September 25, 2022

Unitranche

Supportive Business Potential

Local News: Main Street Eureka Springs launches Ozark Incubator Program (3/31/22)

Main Street Eureka Springs is offering three sessions of the Ozark Incubator (OZ INC) Artist and Makers program starting in May 2022. The program uses the CO.STARTERS Core, a 10-session, cohort-based program that equips artists and makers entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools needed to turn business ideas into action. 

Drawing from the experience of successful entrepreneurs and startup veterans from around the globe, the OZ INC program, in partnership with CO.STARTERS, walks creative small-business owners through lean, effective business modeling methods simply and intuitively while connecting them to a supportive community of peers and mentors. Rather than treating a venture as a large corporation and writing a detailed business plan, OZ INC participants are encouraged first to build and test small models. In the process, participants receive real-time customer feedback, update their models to meet customer needs, and avoid creating businesses based on incorrect assumptions.

The OZ INC program is open to all artists and makers in Northwest Arkansas, and the door is open wider for LGBTQ+ and 50+ artists and makers. Statistically, those two groups of entrepreneurs are marginalized in the business development space, and OZ INC is making sure they are represented in each cohort. In addition, this unique cohort program will culminate in a wholesale market for Northwest Arkansas retailers to meet the makers and purchase directly from them.

In Northwest Arkansas, OZ INC will be implemented and facilitated by Main Street Eureka Springs facilitator Kristen Schmitt-Dykes, a seasoned entrepreneur with more than two decades of professional experience in all business operations. Schmitt-Dykes has owned and operated several businesses and has extensive knowledge in sales, marketing, and media production. Schmitt-Dykes is a certified small business consultant, a published author, and is an avid traveler, having recently spent a year in Thailand.

Main Street Eureka Springs is bringing 15 years of entrepreneur consulting and development to this project to ensure the expansion of artist and maker entrepreneurs in the region. The 10-week program will kick off in May 2022. The application is open now at mainstreeteurekasprings.org and is due May 6, 2022, for the first cohort starting May 14, 2022.

Eureka Springs has been an artist’s community since the 1930s. It is the perfect backdrop to develop an incubator that focuses on developing entrepreneurial resources and education for artists and makers throughout Northwest Arkansas. Main Street Eureka Springs wants to be the hub for that education and development, creating a community of prospering artists and makers and a resource for retailers looking for products made in the region.

“Although the pandemic stalled us to launch this program, we have refined the offering to help regional Northwest Arkansas artists and makers go to market. They will have the opportunity to grow and develop their business acumen and create a community of makers launching their ventures. We intend to create that ongoing entrepreneurial resource hub for them over the long term,” said Jacqueline Wolven, executive director of Main Street Eureka Springs. “It’s also important to the organization and the region to have an incubator hub that is open wider for LGBTQ+ and 50+ artists and makers to ensure a thriving community over time. Lastly, retailers will also be invited to connect directly to the makers creating an ecosystem that thrives in the region.”

Small business remains one of the fundamental economic drivers for local economies and job creation. Still, these smaller-scale startups have not received the same level of support as their high-growth counterparts. Main Street Eureka Springs OZ INC, with the partnership with CO.STARTERS, aims to narrow that gap.

“If you look beyond Silicon Valley and New York, there are countless communities that are full of talented entrepreneurs, but they lack the organized community support they need to thrive,” said Enoch Elwell, CO.STARTERS Founder. “CO.STARTERS provides a structure for these communities to achieve their economic growth goals and gives them an easy way build the connections they are already trying to grow.”

For more information on OZ INC, visit mainstreeteurekasprings.org.