December marked the end of our first cohort.  Thirteen founders shared Taco Tuesday, critical feedback, business stories, and memories. What an amazing time we shared!  These founders received help with customer interviews, accounting & finance, business feasibility, mentorship, pitching, and customer persona. Below are highlights from two of our founders, Joy Ellsworth of Clement Waters, and Centoria Roulette-Jackson.

“During my last night face-to-face with what is for me now a trusted community of fellow change-makers, I realize that I gained a fresh understanding of the grit and adaptive planning required to start and run my own small business.  I emerged possessing that which I felt I’d been lacking. When I walked in the door of our cohort’s last session at Project United Knowledge tonight, the excited buzz in the room didn’t seem any different than the other sessions.  Friends were selecting snacks to fuel their upcoming brain-work, chatting it up with classmates, sharing successes and stumbling blocks from their previous week’s execution of homework assignments.  This week would be different, though.  Tonight’s class was our last, and we were scheduled to compete against each other in sharing out business story designed with the Lean Canvas in mind. From the beginning of the nine weeks of this course, all of us changed our business model in seemingly drastic ways.  Not one strong final concept looks remotely similar to the faltering sketches of possibility that were brought in the door at the start.  The crucible of the weekly regimen inspired mental transformations that demanded frightening changes away from our original thoughts.  Desperation was a familiar expression shared among us after we had done market research that revealed fatal flaws in our assumptions about our markets.  It was during those weeks that we realized the true value of our cohort: the shared insights from our counterparts provided a way through our planning dysfunction into the promised land of feasibility.”

“I leave our last class tonight feeling ready to fully take on the demanding path of a starter.  I believe I am now, at my core, a STARTER.”

“It’s not surprising that tonight, seated at a conference table alongside other budding entrepreneurs, every one of us presented our final pitches as confident explorers among friends.  The competition was stiff in the sense that all of us knew that three of us would be going home tonight with a gift of extra help—a marketing package, web design, tech support—but this competition felt as if all of us are on one team, fighting for the same goal.  We cheered for each other.  We joked with each other.  We continued to give feedback that was relevant to the moment, that would make our efforts better, perfectly within the context of our individual business goals. Because Project United Knowledge’s cohort surrounded me with candid encouragement during my introspective search for germane operating rationale to fit a loosely formed idea, what started out as a gut feeling that was impossible to rationalize turned into a clearly defined model for effective execution.  This emergent entrepreneur is grateful to be connected to such an extensive community of small business support.” –Joy with Clement Waters

Centoria Roulette-Jackson shares her thoughts. “The program exceeded my expectations. Because of Project UK, my startup idea is one step closer to becoming reality. I found this experience life changing. I work in the arena of assisting others with changing their lives and it is truly a joy when you can experience that for yourself. I came into this program uncertain but I left empowered.” 

  

“Project UK helped me in so many ways, but I will elaborate on what truly helped me excel and become one step closer to entrepreneurship. The program provided tremendous support, from the facilitators to the speakers, and CEO mentors. The mentors provided were entrepreneurs and experts of their companies. My mentors were great!!!! I could not have asked for better mentors. Having mentorship helped fast track my process. I can’t tell you what it means to be provided one on one guidance by other successful entrepreneurs!” –Centoria Roulette-Jackson

2017 ended with a great group of founders, and we will be excited to support our cohort. If you would like to learn more about our 2018 programs, please contact us or follow Project United Knowledge on Facebook, Instagram(projectuk1), or Twitter.