CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp powered by RISE Collaborative

8-week, online program for current and future business owners in Southern Virginia

CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp

8 Weeks of Live, Online Training Sessions

During this 8-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 8 consecutive weeks. For previous cohorts, the program has been held on Tuesdays from 6pm-9pm on Zoom.

Who should apply? This program is ideal for people who are new business owners, if you have started a business in the last 1-3 years. The program is also open to people who are just getting started or have not opened their business yet.  This program is designed to serve businesses in Southern Virginia – see Eligibility for which localities are included.

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 8 weeks into yourself and your business, you’ll receive insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn business ideas into action. Plus, you’ll be eligible to enter a RISE business pitch competition.

What is the time commitment? Participants should expect to dedicate 6-10 hours per week to this program, including participating in the live, online training sessions and interviewing potential customers.

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 CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp program. The SBDC consulting services are available at no cost. Learn more at >

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

Participant Requirements

1) Participants should have the strong desire to start or grow a 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

Important Program Dates

CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp 

Previous cohorts have met online for 8 consecutive weeks, on Tuesdays from 6pm-9pm on Zoom. Zoom is a free, two-way video meeting platform.

Dates for the next cohort are to be determined.



The CO.STARTERS Business Bootcamp powered by RISE Collaborative is open to anyone who either  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 two weeks before the program start date. 

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


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 CO.STARTERS Core program are below.


CO.STARTERS Core is an 8 week, comprehensive cohort style business planning program. Each of the 8 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 6 of the 8 training sessions, including attending session 1.
  • Demonstrate engagement in the sessions and complete weekly fieldwork as assigned.


  • Session 1 is mandatory.  This session is important for understanding the expectations of the program and meeting your fellow CO.STARTERS cohort participants. 
  • 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. 
    • 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. A participant who accumulates a total of 3 or more 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 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 8-week training and all course materials.

Program Facilitators

Our CO.STARTERS certified facilitators are passionate about supporting you on your business journey.

Sheri McGuire

Longwood SBDC Executive Director and Associate VP for Community and Economic Development at Longwood University

Katherine Beale

Longwood SBDC Consultant

Jacob Dolence

Director, Educational Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at Longwood University

Hope Harris-Gayles

Longwood SBDC Marketing Consultant

Lin Hite

Longwood SBDC Director – South Boston Office

Andrew King

Director of the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Hampden-Sydney College

Michael Scales

Longwood SBDC Western Region Business Analyst

Lauren Mathena

Director of Economic Development and Community Engagement, Mid-Atlantic Broadband (MBC)


Interested in the business bootcamp program?

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“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.”

Carl Bassfield, Owner of In-depth Productions and CO.STARTERS Completer

Program Information

How does it work?

Participants enter into a facilitator-led, collaborative process with a small and supportive group of 10-15 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.

CO.STARTERS Canvas (click to view larger)

What will I learn?


Week 1

Entrepreneurial Self Assessments/Intros/Basics

Week 2

Knowing Your Customer

Week 3

Refining the Idea/Solution

Week 4

Building Blocks – Distribution, Pricing, Revenue

Week 5

The Bottom Line – Startup Costs, Operating Costs, Breakeven

Week 6

Financial Modeling – Cash Flow, Projections, Capital

Week 7

Marketing and Messaging – Growing a Customer Base

Week 8

Planning for Growth – Goals and Presentation Prep

Past Guest Speakers 

Hit play on our CO.STARTERS YouTube playlist to hear from a few speakers that have spoken to previous RISE Collaborative CO.STARTERS cohorts.

Presented by

CO.STARTERS powered by RISE Collaborative is 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.
CO.STARTERS powered by 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.

Supported by