SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The start of the New Year often inspires people to create goals and resolutions to better themselves. If starting or expanding your business is on the list of 2023 resolutions, then Startup Sioux Falls hopes you keep them in mind.
A $1-million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is helping the local organization expand the CO.STARTERS accelerator program expand to reach even more entrepreneurs in Sioux Falls and beyond.
“And it serves entrepreneurs at all stages. So idea stage, startup stage, operating stage, and the course is really designed to, to allow an entrepreneur to work through their business, on a canvas, a business model canvas that is continually being revised and changed as they work through the program,” program manager Jeff Hayward explained.
Whether you’re just forming an idea for a business or are in the final stages of launching a product, Hayward said the 10-week CO.STARTERS program is offered throughout the year and designed to work for everyone, no matter their experience.
“And so, what I have seen firsthand through our cohorts, and I’ve heard from others as well is that the more experienced entrepreneurs in the room, some, in some ways, become a bit of a mentor for some of the earlier stage folks that are in the room,” Hayward said. “And because, just by nature of the stage of their business, they’ve already blazed that trail, or they have recommendations, or they have lessons learned that they can provide.”
And the help extends the other way, Hayward went on, as the new entrepreneurs can bring a fresh perspective for the more experienced members of the cohort.
What makes the program unique is the different communities and populations served.
The CO.STARTERS program was created to help underserved communities find the resources and mentorship they need to be successful in their businesses.
“So, you know, LGBTQI, plus, rural entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, individuals with disabilities, the list really goes on,” Hayward said. “We, locally, have recognized that there is a need to continue to conduct outreach and support entrepreneurs of all stripes.”
Cohorts pair with local organizations that cater to different demographics, Hayward explained. For example, rural entrepreneurs in Mitchell and Watertown might work with Dakota Resources while female entrepreneurs would pair with EmBe.
In addition to the hard skills needed to start and run a business, Hayward said the program offers networking opportunities for participants.
“And one of the things I think that you know, we shouldn’t I shouldn’t miss on speaking about is the connections that are made through those cohorts and our larger community connections are being made that are providing referrals, collaborations, it’s really businesses supporting each other,” Hayward said. “And it’s one of those things where a high tide lifts all boats, that’s something we’re really pushing for.”
Members also have access to events, webinars and trainings at no cost.
“If you’re unable to attend any of these webinars, which range from QuickBooks 101 and inventory and payroll to financing your business and learning about loan options that are backed by the SBA. Those are the types of programs available and even if you can’t attend registering for it, we’ll get you a link to the video so you can still get those resources,” Hayward said.
In 2022, the program graduated 79 participants and Hayward said there are 10 to 12 cohorts expected in the program in 2023.
If you’re interested in the CO.STARTERS accelerator program you can visit Startup Sioux Falls website.