Jonnay Wenger had her hands full.
She had just moved to Blount County, Tennessee, with her husband and three children—a ten-year-old, a thirteen-year-old, and a two-month-old baby.
As the boys got settled into school, Jonnay realized she didn’t have much to do with the baby, particularly when it was too hot or rainy to be outside.
That’s when the idea of a kids’ indoor playspace started brewing.
Her family had moved in 2021, and by 2022 Jonnay was looking at spaces that could accommodate the indoor playspace that she was envisioning.
That’s also when she connected with Sky City Entrepreneur Center, a CO.STARTERS partner in Blount County. “Sky City Entrepreneur Center was a great place to launch my business and start forging relationships with other small businesses in the area,” Jonnay said. “It gave me a lot of confidence moving forward with that level of support.
She joined a CO.STARTERS cohort at Sky City in the fall of 2022 to iron out the plans for her business.
“I kind of joke that CO.STARTERS pointed out everything I didn’t know how to do,” she said. “But it also gave me realistic expectations of what starting a business would look like behind the scenes. The program gave me resources and helped me build connections with other entrepreneurs in the area so we could cheer each other on.”
"CO.STARTERS gave me realistic expectations of what starting a business would look like behind the scenes. The program gave me resources and helped me build connections with other entrepreneurs in the area so we could cheer each other on."
By December, shortly after she had graduated from CO.STARTERS at Sky City, Jonnay had secured a location for Lil Cub Den. Amidst the bustle of the holidays, renovations on the building had begun, and Jonnay was gearing up for a mid-February grand opening.
The entrepreneurial community she had built at Sky City encouraged her throughout the process and into the new year, when she applied to Sky City’s LaunchPad pitch event.
The LaunchPad featured five entrepreneurial finalists, a board of local judges, and a cash prize. Lil Cub Den’s opening week coincided with the LaunchPad event, where Jonnay won Judge’s Choice and was awarded $2,500.
“So far, it’s been a really great community and really great space,” Jonnay said. “People bring their kids for playdates, birthdays, and designated one-on-one time. And it’s amazing that we get to see things like babies’ first steps and first walks.”
Lil Cub Den also offers open play during the week, which is a perfect option for stay-at-home families and grandparents looking for a fun and safe spot for their kids to play.
Throughout the process of starting and opening her business, Jonnay has learned to let go of the idea that you have to have everything figured out before you can get started.
“You’re never going to have all the answers—entrepreneurship is a constant learning process, and you have to just get started. Done is better than perfect.”