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Next Cohort Launching Soon!

Contact the Erie County Public Library’s IDEA LAB for more information!


Interested in Learning More? Read the FAQ’s below:


Start-ups create the most net new jobs. Small businesses remain to be a fundamental economic driver for local economies and job creation, but smaller-scale startups don’t receive the same level of support as their high-growth counterparts. CO.STARTERS narrows that gap.
CO.STARTERS helps people that have an idea to figure out whether or not it is feasible. The 9-week experience teaches the mechanics of vetting an idea and then launching a business or new line of business. Once someone goes through the program, they’ll be better prepared to take advantage of all of the services that exist to help them here in Erie County and northwest PA. Participants also will have grown their network of contacts and peers to work with. Entrepreneurs that experience CO.STARTERS are typically more successful in businesses than those who have not.
Over nine weeks, participants join a like-minded group of entrepreneurs and community leaders to discover a proven method for evaluating opportunities. The curriculum of CO.STARTERS includes: personal and professional development to prepare you for launching a new venture, a basic understanding of financial accounting and legal structures (e.g. what is the break-even point of a new business), and an introduction to building relationships with customers and other key stakeholders.

More importantly, CO.STARTERS is a fun way to engage other early-stage business owners and learn from the community’s collective experience in a supportive environment.

This 2nd year of CO.STARTERS cohorts is powered by the FirstEnergy Foundation!  Other sponsors include Erie Arts and Culture, the Erie Regional Library Foundation, and the Innovation Collaborative! Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA is also a supporter.

The first year launch of the CO.STARTERS program was brought to you through a collaboration of the following partners: Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Bridgeway Capital, Erie Arts and Culture, Erie Regional Library Foundation, Innovation Collaborative, and Tech Tank! They all recognized the need and partnered to fund the cost of licensing and the training of certified facilitators for the pilot year of 2018.

Our other partners are the 17 experienced entrepreneurs that have been certified to facilitate the CO.STARTERS programs! They’re achieving success along their entrepreneurial journeys and are now happy to pay it forward in supporting others.

CO.STARTERS prepares aspiring and existing entrepreneurs that have new ideas and, it builds “community”!

Until now, the only thing that existed in our region, in this early space, were the regional Small Business Development Centers’ “First Step Seminars”, which are a valuable one-time 3 hour course that are the entry way for services from the Centers.

CO.STARTERS is a 9-week cohort based program, facilitated by experienced entrepreneurs.  The program equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools that are needed to turn ideas into action and to turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor. The cohorts are facilitated by experienced entrepreneurs that are focused on improving our communities’ futures and “paying it forward”. In addition to the weekly in-classroom program (typically held at the Blasco Library’s Idea Lab), there are weekly deliverables and guest speakers that share valuable insights.

The CO.STARTERS program addresses a significant gap that existed in Erie in early-stage entrepreneurial support. Though our environment for entrepreneurs is improving and growing every day, until now, there hasn’t been a proven and successful model being applied for people that just aren’t ready for prime time. This program is for people that want to learn and build in an environment that is very supportive and safe, that is led by people just like them, who have been in their shoes.

CO.STARTERS guides entrepreneurs to understand what the steps are to take a solution to market. Participants are also exposed to and encouraged to utilize resources in Erie’s entrepreneurial ecosystem related to capital, mentorship, and consulting.

Partners are rowing in the same direction with the aim of providing a continuous pipeline of support to entrepreneurs looking to build and grow businesses and new lines of business in our region.

The introductory price to participate in CO.STARTERS is $250.

CO.STARTERS’ curriculum is at work in 100+ communities across the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. The fee is applied to the cost of materials and  the administration of the program.

You will leave your CO.STARTERS experience with a clear understanding of how to evaluate ideas and successfully take them to market. You will also have built the supportive relationships (community) that you need to succeed.

Though CO.STARTERS won’t guarantee entrepreneurial success, fame, or fortune (that’s all up to you), CO.STARTERS will provide you with the necessary tools!

The CO.STARTERS program can help anyone exploring a new idea or passion, someone close to starting up, or even an experienced business owner looking to grow, expand, or implement a new idea/program/product.  The skills, insights, and relationships learned and built over the 9 weeks will become invaluable tools for present and future business ownership, product management, or social entrepreneurship.



Tech Professional



Business Owners

Community Leaders

Hear more about CO.STARTERS

Think you’re ready to apply? Simply click the next button below (you’ll see an arrow if you’re on a mobile device)