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CEO Start

Validate your business idea and get started in CEO Start

CEO Start powered by CO.STARTERS is a 10-week cohort-based program that prepares aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with insights, relationships, and tools to turn their ideas into viable businesses. 

Cohorts of 10 to 15 entrepreneurs will work through the nationally recognized curriculum focused on testing ideas and identifying key assumptions through interviews, peer-to-peer conversation, research, and facilitated discussions on key foundational elements.

Participants who complete the program will walk away with a solid foundation of business fundamentals, access to resources, a community of support, an understanding of their next steps, and the confidence to move forward with their idea. 

This program is powered by CO.STARTERS, in collaboration with Hennepin County and the cities of Brooklyn Park and Bloomington.  

A framework for validating business ideas

Through this hands-on workshop, entrepreneurs will turn their passion  into a tested concept ready to launch.

In this cohort-based program, a group of entrepreneurs will:

  • Build community and peer-to-peer relationships
  • Gain business knowledge and learn to keep it simple
  • Follow a focused path to develop and fine-tune their idea using the CO.STARTERS lean business model canvas
  • Critically examine their idea through real-time collaboration and expert feedback

Participants will leave the program with a deeper understanding of how to create a sustainable venture, articulate their models, and repeat the process with their next great idea. 


To qualify for CEO Start, participants must:

  • Be a resident of Hennepin County
  • Have an idea or an existing business in an early stage
  • Be willing to question, shape and fine-tune that idea
  • Be willing to talk about the idea with others

About the CEO Start program

CEO Start is powered by the CO.STARTERS curriculum in collaboration with Hennepin County and the cities of Brooklyn Park and Bloomington. 

CO.STARTERS is a nationally recognized community-based approach to economic development,  beginning in 2008 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of a five-year revitalization project. Founders recognized a growing need to provide business support to entrepreneurs just getting started. Today, the CO.STARTERS network consists of thousands of success stories around the world.

National program results

  • 24,700 entrepreneurs served
  • 1,620 leaders trained 
  • 95% of participants continue working on their venture after one year
  • 70% have generated a profit
  • 150% increase in gross annual sales

Based on 2022 data from CO.STARTERS

Apply Now

Applications are now open for the inaugural CEO Start cohort. Applications will be accepted through application close date – December 1, 2023 with programs dates beginning at the end of January 2024.

Priority consideration will be given to business owners who apply by November 15. The program will run from January 2024 through the beginning of April 2024. Hours of commitment per week will be one evening of 3 hours in person and 2 to 5 hours of independent work to be completed outside of course time. 

Spots are limited and fill quickly for this competitive program, so apply today by completing this form.

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Brandon Bell