Lauren and Erik Zilen standing outside the bakery they own in Chattanooga, TN.

Help entrepreneurs build thriving businesses.

We equip cities, entrepreneurship hubs, and community organizations with proven programs and tools to help local entrepreneurs grow and thrive.

Lauren and Erik Zilen | Niedlov's Bakery & Cafe

Proven & trusted

Over a decade of entrepreneur support

Communities Supported
Leaders Trained
Entrepreneurs Served
A photograph of Buddy Palmer

Buddy Palmer

Executive Director (Former)

A headshot of Monique Priestley, founder and Director of The Space on Main in Bradford, Vermont.
"Since starting CO.STARTERS, we've seen more energy in the town around supporting people who want to start businesses, and more understanding about fostering entrepreneurship."

Monique Priestley

The Space on Main

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How can CO.STARTERS help me build my community's entrepreneurial ecosystem?

CO.STARTERS offers a full suite of programs, tools, and resources that will help you build your community's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Not sure where to start? Consider signing up for our Ecosystem Accelerator to create a strategic action plan for your community.

How does CO.STARTERS work?

We partner with you and equip you to support local entrepreneurs. Using our train-the-trainer model, we'll train your organization and local business leaders to administer and facilitate each of our best-in-class programs. No one knows your local community like you do, and we can't overstate the importance of connecting entrepreneurs with the local resource providers and other entrepreneurs in the community.

Is CO.STARTERS an accelerator?

While we offer a wide range of programs designed to serve entrepreneurs at multiple stages of business, we are known for our flagship program, CO.STARTERS Core. This multi-week, accelerator-style program is designed to take entrepreneurs from idea to launch.

Why use CO.STARTERS programs when I can just create my own?

The beauty of CO.STARTERS is that we've already done all the work for you. We did the countless hours of research. We've prepared the marketing collateral and promotion plan for you. We'll train your facilitators on how to deliver the program. We'll survey your participants and provide you with clear reports on the results (have we mentioned our amazing results, by the way?). And best of all, we have a dedicated team who can answer all the questions you'll have along the way.

So yes, you can create your own program. But why reinvent the wheel?

What kinds of organizations do you work with?

We work with a huge variety of "entrepreneur support organizations" (ESOs). Our members range from Chambers of Commerce to local governments, Main Street organizations to coworking spaces, local universities to entrepreneurship hubs. We've even had arts organizations, churches, public libraries, and high schools join our network!

Why does CO.STARTERS use the lean startup method in its programs?

The #1 reason small businesses fail is a lack of product-market fit. We use the lean startup method to help our alumni avoid this common pitfall by starting small, failing fast, and doing extensive work on customer discovery before they invest too much money in a solution to a problem no one has. We guide them through this process using our CO.STARTERS Canvas, our version of the beloved lean startup canvas.

Who are your programs for?

Our programs are designed to be accessible to someone with zero business background. So while they're beginner-friendly, seasoned entrepreneurs can greatly benefit from our programs. This is because our programs don't so much teach business concepts as they lead entrepreneurs through an active process of testing and refining their business models. We like to say that our programs are for any entrepreneur who is stuck!

I’m an entrepreneur. Can you help me with my business?

Although we don’t provide direct support to entrepreneurs at this time, we recommend you check our local partner map to see if there are any organizations near you that are running CO.STARTERS programs. 

You can also download the CO.STARTERS business model canvas for free! Use it to visualize how your business works.

How do I bring CO.STARTERS to my community?

We're so glad you asked. Schedule a call with our team to learn about becoming a local partner!