RISE Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS

Tuesday, January 9 – Tuesday, March 26, 2024

RISE Business Bootcamp

10 Weeks of Live, Online Training

During this 10-week program, you’ll get to know yourself, your customer, and the next steps to move your business forward.  The weekly sessions will provide you with dedicated time to work on your business. You’ll gain a support system of peers and mentors. You’ll get access to a curated mix of subject matter experts, inspiring guest speakers, and regional resources that will help you achieve your business dreams.

This program will meet online for 10 weeks on Tuesdays from 6pm-9pm on Zoom. Participants will need to have access to a 2-way audio/video device to full engage in the live sessions. Sessions will be recorded for later viewing, in case you need to miss a session.

Who should apply? 

– Early-Stage, Growth-Oriented and Scalable Businesses*
– Main Street and Lifestyle Small Businesses
– Soloprenuers and Side Hustlers

This program is ideal for people who are new business owners (started in last 1-3 years), and wanting to get a clear path to accessing capital for growth and scaling. The program is also open to people who are just getting started or have not opened their business yet who are wanting to create a solid business plan before diving in with forming the business.  This program is designed to serve businesses in the localities that make up GO Virginia Region 3 in Southern Virginia – please see Eligibility for which localities are included.

How does it work? Participants enter into a facilitator-led, collaborative process with a small and supportive group of like-minded peers. Working together, participants develop and fine-tune their ideas, critically examining every part and determining next steps through real-time feedback from people in the community, using a simplified version of the Business Model Canvas.

Participant Requirements

1) Participants should have the strong desire to start or grow a scalable business in Southern Virginia. See Eligibility for details.

2) Participants will need access to high speed internet and a personal device (ex. computer or tablet) with the ability to share two-way audio and video. The ability to share video and view the speaker’s shared screen is critical to getting the most out of this program. If you do not have reliable, quality internet access, please do not let this stop you!  Contact your local library or email us at hello@sovarise.com.

Important Program Dates

CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp


December 8, 2023 – Applications due

December 13, 2023 – Applicants who have been accepted into the program will be notified of their acceptance no later than this date

January 9, 2024 – Week 1 – Meet and Greet and Program Overview (1 hour, 6-7pm)

January 16, 2024 – Week 2 – Session 1: Entrepreneurial Self/Intros/Basics; *Attendance at this session is required*

January 23, 2024 – Week 3 – Session 2: Knowing Your Customer

January 30, 2024 – Week 4 – Session 3: Refining the Idea/Solution

February 6, 2024 – Week 5 – Session 4: Building Blocks – Distribution, Pricing, Revenue

February 13, 2024 – Week 6 – Session 5: The Bottom Line – Startup Costs, Operating Costs, Breakeven

February 20, 2024 – Week 7 – Session 6: Financial Modeling – Cash Flow, Projections, Capital

February 27, 2024 – Week 8 – Session 7: Marketing and Messaging – Growing a Customer Base

March 5, 2024 – Week 9 – Session 8: Planning for Growth – Goals and Pitch Prep

March 12, 2024 – Break Week (No live session); Work on pitch preparation for your business

March 19, 2024 – Break Week (No live session); Work on pitch preparation for your business

March 26, 2024 – Week 10 – Live Pitch Practice


The CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp powered by RISE Collaborative is open to anyone who lives, owns a business, or intends to start a business in one of the following eligible Virginia localities: Halifax County, Mecklenburg County, Brunswick County, Lunenburg County, Charlotte County, Prince Edward County, Cumberland County, Buckingham County, Nottoway County, Amelia County, Pittsylvania County, Henry County, Patrick County, Danville, and Martinsville.

An online application is required to participate in the program. Once you apply, we will follow up with you with any questions we have and we’ll let you know if you are accepted into the program by December 13, 2023. 

Access to reliable, high-speed internet is required to participate in the program, due to the live online training sessions. If you do not this internet access at home, we encourage to seek an alternative location where you can access Wi-Fi – like the library, a community center, or the SOVA Innovation Hub coworking space in South Boston, Virginia.

If you have questions about eligibility or need help overcoming any barriers to participation, please contact us at hello@sovarise.com


Program Policies

All participants who are accepted into the cohort must agree to and sign an attendance & fieldwork policy agreement. The attendance & fieldwork policies for the RISE Business Bootcamp program are below.


RISE Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS is a 10 week, comprehensive cohort style business planning program. Each of the training sessions covers a specific topic. Part of the value of this program is the strong network that will develop among participants. For these reasons, maximizing your attendance and engagement in the program is essential to maximizing your readiness to move from idea to action. 

To complete the program, each participant must: 

  • Attend a minimum of 8 of the 10 training sessions, including attending Week 2 (Session 1: Entrepreneurial Self Assessments/Intros/Basics).
  • Demonstrate engagement in the sessions and complete weekly fieldwork as assigned.


    • Week 2 (Session 1) is mandatory.  This session is important for understanding the expectations of the program and meeting your fellow CO.STARTERS. 
    • We understand that absences will occur. Our policy on absences is reflected below:
      • Excused Absences: An excused absence occurs when a participant misses a session (for any reason) but notifies the program administrator in advance. A participant may have a maximum of 2 excused absences. A participant who accumulates 3 or more total absences (including excused and unexcused) will be removed from the cohort. Excused absences can be made up by watching the recording from the missed session in full, meeting with a program facilitator, and performing the required field work for that session.
      • Unexcused Absences:An unexcused absence means that you did not notify the program administrator before the session. A participant who accumulates 2 consecutive unexcused absences will be removed from the cohort.


          • Each week, complete the fieldwork prior to the next session.
          • Prior to the start of sessions 2 through 8, submit a selfie video with your reflections from the prior week. These should be short (3 minutes maximum).
          • At the start of sessions 2 through 8, provide an updated customer count.


The CO.STARTERS approach enables entrepreneurs to rapidly uncover flaws in their concepts and find viable models more quickly. Participants leave the program with a deeper understanding of how to create a sustainable business, articulate their models, and repeat the process with the next great idea.


All applicants who are accepted into the program and are dedicated to completion of the program will receive a full scholarship, thanks to the support from our funding partners. The value of the program is $500 per person which includes the 10-week training and all course materials.

What are the benefits? Each week, you’ll meet with subject matter experts, experienced entrepreneurs, and business consultants who are passionate about helping you achieve your business dreams. You’ll be part of a group of business owners and future founders, who each bring their own expertise to the room. By investing these 10 weeks into yourself and your business, you’ll receive insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn business ideas into action. 

What is the time commitment? Participants should expect to dedicate six (6) to ten (10) hours per week to this program. This includes participating in the live, online training sessions and time outside of those sessions, working on our business by interviewing potential customers and doing market research, financial analysis, and goal-setting. It is a big commitment, but it will be worth it when you have a clear vision for WHY you are in business and your VISION for going forward.

What are customer interviews? Between sessions 2 and 8, you’ll be asked to conduct interviews with existing or potential customers. This might mean talking to strangers. Willingness to do customer interviews is a key part of this program.

Is help available outside of the live sessions? Yes, definitely! Business Bootcamp participants are strongly encouraged to meet one-on-one with the Longwood Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) team of consultants. Many of the SBDC’s consultants are also facilitators in the RISE CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp program. Longwood SBDC consulting services are available at no cost. Learn more at https://sbdc-longwood.com >

Will I be ready at a RISE business pitch competition?  If you invest time and effort into your Business Bootcamp, you’ll be eligible to pitch! As a participant in the RISE Business Bootcamp, you will receive mentorship support from our team of facilitators as you prepare for a RISE business pitch competition.

This program of RISE Collaborative is co-hosted by the SOVA Innovation Hub and the Longwood SBDC, with partial funding from GO Virginia Region 3.

Past cohorts include: 

  1. Spring 2021 CO.STARTERS Blackstone Cohort – in partnership with the Community Business Launch hosted by Downtown Blackstone, Inc. 
  2. Fall 2021 CO.STARTERS Virtual Cohort 
  3. Winter 2022 CO.STARTERS Virtual Cohort
  4. Winter 2023 CO.STARTERS Virtual Cohort

Interested in the business bootcamp program?

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Winter 2023 Cohort Members

Course materials and fieldwork can be still be found on the Canvas learning management system. Your Longwood SBDC Advisors are still available to you, as well!

Program Information

CO.STARTERS Canvas (click to view larger)

What will I learn?


Week 1

–  Program Kickoff  –
Meet & Greet and Program Overview

Week 2

–  Session 1  –
Entrepreneurial Self Assessments & Introductions

Week 3

–  Session 2  –
Knowing Your Customer

Week 4

–  Session 3  –
Refining the Idea/Solution

Week 5

–  Session 4  –
Building Blocks – Distribution, Pricing, Revenue

Week 6

–  Session 5  –
The Bottom Line – Startup Costs, Operating Costs, Breakeven

Week 7

–  Session 6  –
Financial Modeling – Cash Flow, Projections, Capital

Week 8

–  Session 7  –
Marketing and Messaging – Growing a Customer Base

Week 9

–  Session 8  –
Planning for Growth – Goals and Presentation Prep

Week 10

–  Live Pitch Practice  –
Polish Your Pitch – Practice Pitching & Feedback

Testimonials from RISE Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS Participants

Cissy Martin

Cissy Martin

Owner, Shear Happiness by Cissy (South Boston, VA) - Winter 2023 Cohort

"Attending the RISE Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS last winter was a truly enriching experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to acquire valuable knowledge, but I also had the pleasure of meeting a diverse group of remarkable individuals. The connections I made during the camp have proven to be invaluable in my journey towards starting my business. The insights I gained during the camp have shaped my aspirations and provided a solid foundation for my future endeavors. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn, grow, and network through the RISE bootcamp. I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to everyone I meet that is on the journey of entrepreneurship!"

Jan Daniel

Jan Daniel

Owner, Taa Daa the Bakery (Blackstone, VA) - Spring 2021 Cohort

“There’s a risk if you don’t pursue your passion. If you don’t try it, you’re going to beat yourself up for the rest of your life going, ‘I wonder what would have been.’ Now I don’t have to wonder. That’s how I ended up where I am.”

Ruby Reid

Ruby Reid

Owner, Valhalla Organics (Halifax, VA) - Winter 2023 Cohort

"I was honestly skeptical at first, since I've been in business for several years, but I learned a lot of advanced skills in the course, and I especially appreciated the CO.STARTERS Canvas structure for business planning. That was revolutionary for me, as a person who is naturally inclined to write a 20 page business plan with one million bullet points. I also learned (from my peers in the course as well as the course content) how easy and how important it is to create an LLC. I had been operating as a sole proprietorship since 2017, and I created the LLC this year literally the day after my cohort encouraged me to just do it."

Torian Jones

Torian Jones

Owner, beyouniquorn LLC (Farmville, VA) - Fall 2021 Cohort

“It really helped me validate myself, the progress that I had made, and the work I had done... It really helped me break things down as far as the business plan and the cost of products. Even though it was a really rigorous program at times, I can say it really helped me do what I wanted to do...We got into the mental affirmation of ‘you can do this; you were meant to do this.' One of the biggest things that can halt a labor is fear. So, keeping that calm and letting the process happen [is important]. I really appreciate CO.STARTERS and the foundation it helped me establish."

Carl Bassfield

Carl Bassfield

Owner, InDepth Productions (Blackstone, VA) - Spring 2021 Cohort

"The RISE Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS is a huge investment in self — one that's very necessary, especially if you want to become an entrepreneur. Everything is relevant. You're going to use all of the information that they give you.”

Ally Barfield

Ally Barfield

Owner, RV Mom in Pink (Blackstone, VA) - Spring 2021 Cohort

“I didn’t realize that I had good ideas or that my ideas were valid until I started taking the classes. I didn’t know anything about starting a business. The program gave me the tools I needed to make an actual business work. The instructors helped me figure out the financial side of it like pricing products, balancing a checkbook, and figuring out taxes.”

Meet the Facilitators – Winter 2024

Dana Knott, MBA

Dana Knott, MBA

Longwood SBDC Central Region Director

Hope Harris-Gayles

Hope Harris-Gayles

Longwood SBDC Marketing Consultant + Director of Communications & Outreach at Southern Virginia Higher Education Center

Jacob Dolence

Jacob Dolence

Longwood SBDC Business Consultant + Director of Educational Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at Longwood University

Katherine Anne Beale

Katherine Anne Beale

Longwood SBDC Business Consultant based in Mecklenburg County, VA

Andrew King, PhD

Andrew King, PhD

Director of the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Hampden-Sydney College

Jen Cox

Jen Cox

Longwood SBDC Consultant + Director of Local and Community Relations at Longwood University

Sheri McGuire

Sheri McGuire

Longwood SBDC Executive Director + Associate Vice President at Longwood University Office of Community & Economic Development

Lauren Mathena

Lauren Mathena

Director of Economic Development & Community Engagement at Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. & SOVA Innovation Hub

The role of the CO.STARTERS Facilitators is to guide participants through the RISE Business Bootcamp. The Facilitators strive to ask the right questions, draw on the knowledge in the room, and connect participants with available resources in the community and across the region. The Facilitator team works closely to ensure a quality program that meets the unique needs of each of the participants – entrepreneurs and small businesses. We are here for you, whether you want to startup, grow, or scale your business in Southern Virginia.

Learn from Experts & Guest Speakers 

During each week of the RISE Business Bootcamp, you’ll meet with subject matter experts, experienced entrepreneurs, and business consultants who are passionate about helping you achieve your business dreams. Each session includes a deep dives into topics that you’ll need to explore as you startup, grow, or scale your business.

Powered By

CO.STARTERS is about bringing people together to learn from one another in order to create a strong network of support.  Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the CO.STARTERS team has spent over a decade supporting hundreds of communities and thousands of entrepreneurs.  The SOVA Innovation Hub became a CO.STARTERS member organization in 2021, giving access to CO.STARTERS training programs to entrepreneurs across Southern Virginia through RISE Collaborative. By participating in our regional RISE programs powered by CO.STARTERS, you will gain access to a national network of CO.STARTERS alumni.

Presented By

RISE Collaborative’s Business Bootcamp powered by CO.STARTERS is a program coordinated by the SOVA Innovation Hub and the Longwood SBDC. The Longwood SBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University, and local host institutions.  The Virginia SBDC is nationally accredited by America’s SBDC.

RISE Collaborative is funded in part by GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) that strengthens and diversifies Virginia’s economy and fosters the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries.