CO.STARTERS is a ten-week business development program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs put ideas into action, and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving small business.

SEPTEMBER 2023 | KEC Cohort

Status: Applications Open until Friday, Aug 25th, 2023.

Start Date: September 13th

Location: Knoxville, TN

Program Fee: $250

Applications for Co.Starters are closed. Email for more information about our programs.


Need a business plan? We do it a different way. Throughout this business model discovery process, participants identify and test business assumptions through customer interactions, develop a functioning business model, learn valuable management and marketing skills, and receive constructive feedback from advisor, peers, and former grads. At the end, you’ll have the tools, framework, and momentum you need to make your vision a reality–and the best part is you won’t be in it alone. It’s business plan 2.0.


If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to launch a new product or service, CO.STARTERS is for you. Co.STARTERS helps you build your business plan in a flexible community environment. The only real prerequisites are: having a business idea you’re ready, willing and excited to share and work on; and a willingness to study, shape and fine-tune that idea in a supportive, collaborative and welcoming environment. If you’re creative and community-minded, and you’re serious about turning your passion into a sustainable small business, we’re looking for you. No business plan required.


During CO.STARTERS, you’re not being lectured. This is isn’t your parent’s business plan class. This is an action-driven, collaborative process with a small and supportive group of like-minded entrepreneurs, led by a facilitator who’ll introduce concepts and help you immediately put them to work. We’ll discuss concepts, problems and solutions during class; you’ll apply them to your project or business during the week; and we’ll review and fine-tune together, so we’re all shaping toward success. You’ll leave the program with a deep understanding of how to create a viable business, and how to repeat that process with your next great idea.




Uses simple, easy to understand language and addresses the full spectrum of adult learning styles.


Brings people together to learn from one another, creating a strong network of support for startups.


Helps you and your business benefit from our welcoming community of creative entrepreneurs.


Offers a tangible process for identifying, testing, and adapting business assumptions to create a viable startup, and provides practical steps to launch, rather than theoretical concepts.


Assumes customers should be the primary concern in every aspect of creating a business, rather than spending months on a business plan.


Helps shape passions into viable and sustainable business models, whether you’re a graphic designer, a jewelry maker, or the next next big software success story. Don’t spend months in garage writing the perfect business plan, come build a business model with us.


During CO.STARTERS, you’ll develop and fine-tune your business idea, building models based on your assumptions, tweaking your next steps through real-time customer feedback, learning valuable management and marketing skills and receiving constructive feedback from advisers, peers and local businesses. By honing your business (rather than your business plan) and updating your approach based on real feedback and customer demand, you’ll gain the skills you need to develop a viable business model.

  • Week 1: Knowing Yourself | Dig into what’s driving you and understand what it will take to achieve your dream.
  • Week 2: Understanding Your Customer | Pinpoint what your customer wants and how to adapt to their needs.
  • Week 3: Business Solutions + Starting Small | Test your solution by starting small and making adjustments as needed.
  • Week 4: Getting, Keeping, and Growing Customers | Build customer relationships through your messaging & marketing.
  • Week 5: Revenue, Pricing, and Distribution | Figure out your logistics and how you’ll make money.
  • Week 6: Legal + Accounting | Understand the systems and structures you’ll need to support your business.
  • Week 7: Financial Modeling | Determine your costs and whether your business model is financially viable.
  • Week 8: Funding + Raising Capital | Know your options for finding the funds you need to grow sustainably.
  • Week 9: Growth Plans + Goal Setting | Gain momentum and leave with a strategy for achieving your goals.
  • Week 10: Celebrate! | Reflect on your journey and celebrate your success. Your future starts now.


CO.STARTERS lasts ten weeks, meeting one evening a week for three hours. Facilitators include educators and active entrepreneurs, and guest speakers include specialists and professionals from leading marketing, branding, legal and finance firms and agencies, as well as local entrepreneurs.


The course fee is $250 dollars and includes materials. Full payment is required at the start of your first session. This fee is non-refundable.

KEC will send out an invoice through PayPal or Stripe to receive your payment. 

If you feel that CO.STARTERS could add value to your community, we’d love to hear from you!

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