Episode 7 of Start Dakota brings us an interview between Startup Sioux Falls’ president Brienne Maner and CO.STARTERS graduate Jackie Wilson.
Wilson recently graduated from the EmBe cohort of CO.STARTERS, an offering made possible through the Community Navigator pilot program. She joined the program when her business, As I Am In Christ, was in its early development stages.
Wilson’s business concept is to create a platform for underserved women “to show up authentically as they are and to be able to leverage their skills in the community to get the resources they need and build the life they want.”
She was inspired by her personal experience and says that through the CO.STARTERS customer discovery process, she saw her younger self as the customer.
“I was an underserved teenager and child; I've come from a very difficult background that included a lot of different things that have the ability to put people at a disadvantage as they're starting off in life,” she said.
Wilson says she thinks a lot about what she needed as a teenager and a young woman starting out in life.
“Some of the women in the community are facing difficult situations, and they don’t know what resources are available in Sioux Falls.”
While there are organizations in the community that provide for underserved women, Wilson says many are geared toward giving women what they need in the moment instead of teaching them how to be successful long-term.
“I learned throughout my life that you can give somebody something, but if you teach them how to do it themselves, it lasts a lot longer.”
She is grateful to have been pointed to CO.STARTERS while her idea was in such an early stage.
“I had volunteered with Embe before and when I didn’t know how to get started with my business, I was pointed back to them, and they told me about CO.STARTERS,” she said.
“Another woman opened the door for me, and I want to be able to do that for other people.”
Wilson feels that her business concept has evolved significantly over the 10-week program. Looking to the future, she plans to pursue a degree in social work or sociology and then begin identifying specific resource gaps within the community before setting up her nonprofit.
“I certainly feel like I've gotten more [from CO.STARTERS] than what I initially went into it seeking. I was able to make connections with women in the community who are successful and started businesses out of ideas that they had brewing in their minds, and they actually turned into really successful stories. It's been nice to have those resources offered to us as women that went through that program,” she said.
That’s just the beginning of the conversation. Tune in to hear more about Jackie’s business journey and how CO.STARTERS helps entrepreneurs develop their ideas from the ground up.
- Submit an interest form for CO.STARTERS.
- CO.STARTERS Challenge: What’s your advantage? What is about you and your startup that set you apart from the competition? Do you have more expertise than another business? Do you have more experience than other businesses? If someone else started a similar venture? Why are you more likely to succeed?
- Complete your “fieldwork” before the next episode: Identify what sets you apart from your competition, and make note of it on your CO.STARTERS Canvas.
- Business Minute: Learn more about the SD CEO East Women’s Business Center here.
This project is made possible through a partnership with Startup Sioux Falls and grant funding provided through the Community Navigator Pilot Program, powered by the SBA. More information can be found here.