Create a Culture of Locally Supported Innovation and Small Business Success in Your Community
Let Reinventing Rural help you bring the magic of CO.STARTERS to your rural town
Creating thriving business communities
Partner with Reinventing Rural and CO.STARTERS to jumpstart your business goals
Proven programs to create lasting entrepreneur communities
With the help of community supporters, we believe your community can be transformed. It's happening in Burns, Fossil, Lincoln City, Reedsport, Veneta, and other rural places in Oregon where CO.STARTERS is taking root.
Helping sponsor CO.STARTERS in your area not only supports new business, but it connects you to a growing entrepreneurial movement with a proven economic impact on the local, national, and global levels.
Learn how your involvement will help shape the future of business in your area. Engage your organization with entrepreneurs, business owners, creatives, investors, and community-loving people who are making an impact in your community and beyond!
Reinventing Rural helps you bring the magic of CO.STARTERS to your rural community so that you can build a locally-driven vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. We ensure you develop pipelines of support for your starters at every stage of their journey.
CO.STARTERS WILL ENERGIZE YOUR MAIN STREET
CO.STARTERS didn't come out of some big city or University where terms like "Angel Investor," "Venture Capital," and "Unicorn" are used. CO.STARTERS grew from a recognized need in Chattanooga, Tennessee where artists, creators, makers, and others needed better support to start and grow businesses that benefit Main Street and not Wall Street. CO.STARTERS blends extensive knowledge from years of non-traditional business support with the most effective high-growth startup methods used today to support starters who create jobs in your communities.
What we do
Turn passion into thriving business
Reinventing Rural + CO.STARTERS supports your work at the intersection of economic and community development to help individuals and communities thrive through entrepreneurship.
What began as a transformation story on local Main Street has grown from a program, to a company, to a global community and network with a growing list of offerings.
Reinventing Rural helps bring CO.STARTERS to your rural community. We support you, as you grow and build your own, locally driven culture of innovation.
Beginning in 2008 in Chattanooga, Tennessee as part of a five-year Main Street revitalization effort, we recognized a growing need to provide business support to artists, creatives, and others who didn’t fit traditional models. In response, we adapted existing business planning resources to serve groups of people interested in launching or refining creative businesses.
We set out to create something intentionally and completely new— something with a new mindset not focused on scarcity or exclusion, but on need and value. While providing this kind of business support was incredibly valuable, the connection and community resulting from the program were often the most beneficial aspects.
Over the first four years in Chattanooga, more than 1,000 people went through the program. The local work grew to support not only small businesses, but also high-growth startups.
Through our early work with creative entrepreneurs we found that business support combined with community building led to significant transformation and unlocked potential. We wondered, how could we make this happen everywhere?
CO.STARTERS launched nationally in 2013, packaging the best of our learnings from years of small business support and melding it with the most effective high-growth startup methods—all grounded in a community context.
Today the CO.STARTERS network consists of communities all over the country and spreading around the world, with thousands participating in its programs annually.
2-Day Intensive Workshop
CO.STARTERS Bootcamp is a 4-part series delivered over 2 full days designed to help you learn a proven framework to refine your business idea.
Over the 2 days you will identify how to better understand your business idea and how to refine it using customer feedback.
You'll cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in a safe and supportive environment. You'll gain tools to market your business and gain customer awareness. Learn about business legal structures and the basics of financial modeling and build momentum.
Start building your thriving business
CO.STARTERS Core is a three-month, cohort-based program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor.
Modular Youth Program
Building on the proven CO.STARTERS model, CO.STARTERS Generator is a modular program that helps teens explore their passions through generating, testing, and launching ideas.
With the ability to choose which modules are best suited to your timeframe and context, CO.STARTERS Generator is a great way to inspire youth with the vision, enthusiasm, and tenacity needed to move from idea to action.
CO.STARTERS equips individuals and communities to thrive through entrepreneurship.
Transformation by focusing on real community needs - jobs, revitalization, and growth opportunities for local talent.
A Rural Oregon Success Story Published by CO.STARTERS
Steep Creek Studio
When Silje Christoffersen moved back to her small, rural hometown of Enterprise, Oregon, she knew she wanted to pour into her community through her passion for design.
Enterprise, Oregon is a tiny rural town bordered by forests and valleys. There are only about 2,000 residents in the town—not the most likely candidate for an entrepreneurial revival. Recently, though, the town has been seeing an uptick in entrepreneurial activity, thanks to the nonprofit Reinventing Rural’s work in providing support and resources for all sorts of entrepreneurs in the small town.
Silje Christoffersen, who runs the design studio Steep Creek Studio, is one of these entrepreneurs.
She’d grown up in Enterprise, but moved to Idaho for her partner’s job in 2019. She had always been interested in art and design, so, after moving, Silje pursued several graphic design and branding jobs, working with businesses such as a women’s clothing company, a civic organization, and a creative agency. In January of 2021, Silje took a job as the graphic designer for a local motor vehicle parts manufacturer to further hone her skills.
“I had exposure to speaking in a lot of voices,” she explained.
In 2022, she started feeling a strong pull to return to her hometown in Oregon to open a design studio of her own.
Because of Enterprise’s small scale, Silje wasn’t sure if her hometown would have the resources to support her business. But it was important for her to invest in her community and follow her passion for art.
When she found out that Reinventing Rural had partnered with a local economic development organization to offer CO.STARTERS courses to entrepreneurs in Enterprise, Silje decided that would be a great way to see if she could realistically turn her passion for design into a business. She had always done projects on the side for people in Enterprise. Now, she would have the opportunity to see if her small town could sustain a full-fledged graphic design studio.
“CO.STARTERS Bootcamp and Core were helpful in teaching me not to let perfect be the enemy of good. Especially since we’re in a rural place, it’s easy to compare ourselves to businesses with more resources and funding, and think we need all that to get started. But that actually sets you up for failure. CO.STARTERS helped me to re-center, realize that I don’t need all of that, and distill my resources to the least I needed to just get started."
In December of 2022, Silje joined CO.STARTERS Bootcamp to get Steep Creek Studio off the ground. Even though she was a bit overwhelmed at first, struggling with worry and imposter syndrome, she was encouraged by the community she found in the two-day business planning intensive.
“Everyone came in with different experiences and levels of where we were with our businesses. It was a very accessible, welcoming environment to ask questions, and it gave me the confidence to just get started,” Silje explained.
After CO.STARTERS Bootcamp, Silje officially registered Steep Creek Studio, which has attracted a steady stream of local and national clients, to the extent that she’s been able to support herself with her work full-time. While she’s still refining her specialty, the studio offers a wide variety of design work, including graphic design, illustrative and traditional art, and logo, promotional, and website design.
To build on what she had learned in CO.STARTERS Bootcamp and continue solidifying her business, Silje enrolled in CO.STARTERS Core, a longer and more in-depth cohort-based program, in January of 2023.
“CO.STARTERS Bootcamp and Core were helpful in teaching me not to let perfect be the enemy of good,” Silje said. “Especially since we’re in a rural place, it’s easy to compare ourselves to businesses with more resources and funding, and think we need all that to get started. But that actually sets you up for failure. CO.STARTERS helped me to re-center, realize that I don’t need all of that, and distill my resources to the least I needed to just get started.”
She also appreciated that CO.STARTERS Core reminded her that she would learn things along the way.
“That would be my advice to entrepreneurs just getting started: Your business model canvas and business plan don’t need to be perfect!” she said. “Unexpected things might happen, and it’s important to be open to letting the process itself show you how to move forward.”
From the CO.STARTERS Blog - Original Article Here