Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 4, 2013

The Company Lab renews SpringBoard program

The Company Lab last week revealed the new face and updated curriculum of its business planning course.

SpringBoard has officially evolved into CO.STARTERS, a program that combines components of SpringBoard with startup methods drawn from the research and experience of entrepreneurs and startup leaders across the country.

“We’ve learned a lot from the hundreds of SpringBoard graduates who have launched their businesses with us,” said Enoch Elwell, Company Lab program director. “We’ve blended their feedback with the high-growth startup principles we use in the GIGTANK accelerator program, giving small businesses powerful tools that don’t require an MBA to understand.”

SpringBoard was developed in 2008 for creative entrepreneurs in the process of launching or scaling their businesses. More than 700 individuals have graduated from the course, which has been offered by various Chattanooga organizations, including LAUNCH Chattanooga, Glass House Collective, UTC, Covenant College, and The Urban League. Hundreds of SpringBoard graduates are now doing business and creating jobs in the Chattanooga region.

Building off the success and momentum of SpringBoard, CO.STARTERS walks small-business owners through the same methods used by high-growth startups in a simple and intuitive way. 

The new CO.STARTERS curriculum is based on a trend that is changing the high-growth startup world: Rather than writing detailed business plans before launching a business, entrepreneurs are building and testing small models first. As a result, they can receive real-time customer feedback, update their model to meet customer needs, and avoid building a business based on incorrect assumptions.

The CO.STARTERS curriculum incorporates that methodology, enabling owners of micro-businesses to start faster, grow cheaper, and achieve more long-term success.

“The everyday, local, passion-driven businesses that are so valuable to our economy have been somewhat forgotten in the high-growth startup craze,” Elwell said. “But the startup world can provide a lot of value to small-business owners. It just has to be tailored to their needs, and that’s what CO.STARTERS does.”

Lane Ford, who has facilitated SpringBoard for several years, believes CO.STARTERS makes it easier for business owners to understand their customers and products, as well as the benefits and advantages they’re providing to the marketplace.

“CO.STARTERS makes you think more about the real meat of your business,” Ford said. “It helps you not be as worried about how the business plan looks. You just make the business itself look good and thrive.”

The Company Lab in the process of scaling CO.STARTERS nationwide. Detroit, Cincinnati and Phoenix already are using pilot versions of the program, and The Company Lab is currently working with more than a dozen communities to train new CO.STARTERS facilitators and implement the program.

To learn more about the CO.STARTERS program, follow CO.STARTERS on Facebook and Twitter, or visit colab.is/costarters.

Source: The Company Lab