After six years as Chief Executive Officer, CO.STARTERS co-founder and chairman Enoch Elwell named Chief Operations Officer Jose Alfaro as his successor. Alfaro joined the company’s staff as Sales and Operations Manager in 2017 and was promoted to his role as COO in 2019.
Launched in 2010 as a local program in Chattanooga, CO.STARTERS was founded to empower individuals and communities to thrive together through entrepreneurship.
“CO.STARTERS exists to help people become more whole through business,” said Elwell. “That vision could not be more valuable or important than it is right now. The world is ready for CO.STARTERS, and we’ve been ready for this moment for a long time.”
The company accomplishes its mission by designing accessible programs and tools, most notably its flagship 10-week Core program, that equip anyone with an idea to confidently build a thriving business within a supportive community.
Under Elwell’s leadership, CO.STARTERS experienced tremendous growth, serving over 21,000 entrepreneurs and growing from a single initiative in Chattanooga to a global presence in over 300 communities.
With such growth comes change. Elwell, a serial entrepreneur himself, explained the rationale behind the recent leadership transition. As someone whose talents lie in getting new projects off the ground, Elwell recognized that CO.STARTERS now needs a leader with different strengths.
“Over the course of the COVID pandemic, we asked the question: who are we as an organization? That question brought us back to our foundation and focused us. Over the past year, Jose has led that effort, building a strong team and focusing on growing our core operations and activities.”
Alfaro’s experience prior to CO.STARTERS was primarily in hospitality management, helping franchisees for Hilton, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree, and Aloft Hotels build sustainable brands and business models. At CO.STARTERS, he has focused on growing the organization and carrying it through the COVID pandemic. His leadership experience during COVID offered him clarity around his own passion and purpose.
“I heard someone say that if you have a burning passion to do something, you have to do it—even if it ultimately fails. I feel that passion with CO.STARTERS. I know this company’s potential, and I know I would regret not giving it my all. After sharing that conviction with Enoch, his trust in me confirmed that passion and gave me the confidence to step into this new role.”
As CEO, Jose will continue to advance CO.STARTERS’ mission on several fronts: “We want to expand the thinking in economic development to include early stage, small business support. We also want to connect entrepreneurs with each other and more educational resources. Many entrepreneurs need additional support once they complete our Core program, and we’re working toward a solution to that need.”
Alfaro was named CEO, with Elwell to remain as chairman of the board, effective January 1, 2022.