Creative Startups Libraries as Launchpads Program - an EDA Story of Success
Working Closely with Libraries, Libraries as Launchpads Increases Access to Support for Underserved Entrepreneurs
Powered by a 2020-22 EDA Economic Adjustment Assistance investment, Creative Startup’s Libraries as Launchpads Initiative set out to improve access to entrepreneurial support in Northern New Mexico by tapping into existing community resources.
Starting a business is a challenge and finding support on the journey can be just as hard, especially for those in under-resourced communities. Creative Startup’s Libraries as Launchpads initiative works with libraries, activating them as accessible centers of economic opportunity for early stage entrepreneurs. Through the EDA funded program, public and tribal librarians and community-based educators across Northern and Central New Mexico would be trained, supported, and certified to deliver pre-accelerator workshops to startups in public libraries.
However, as the Covid-19 swept across the world, libraries shuttered their doors, tribal communities restricted their access. Libraries as Launchpads, as originally designed, was not possible. Creative Startups quickly retooled, as the EDA Story of Success shares:
“…Creative Startups was able to turn the challenges into new opportunities.
‘We were given the opportunity to reach people beyond the confines of geographic locations. We made some enhancements to our online learning portal, improved our communications, and increased our partnerships with rural and Indigenous-led organizations,’ said Creative Placemaking Program Manager Ginny Sterpka. ‘We ended up reaching more counties than we hoped, creating new partnerships, and launching additional courses.’
By the end of the two-year program, Libraries as Launchpads ended up activating 24 tribal or public libraries in 14 New Mexico counties to support entrepreneurs, double the amount they anticipated.
More than 120 entrepreneurs, of which the majority were women and minorities, went through the five-week course. 75-percent of participants went on to launch their businesses and a year later, 39-percent continue to grow their businesses.
‘Entrepreneurs finished the program saying they were more comfortable with pitching their business, prototyping products, and projecting and managing cash flows. We also helped improve access to mentors and expanded their business networks,’ Sterpka said.”
While working closely with librarians, through workshops and outreach initiatives, a new Libraries as Launchpads Initiative was formed. The Certified Entrepreneurship Librarians training program was built in response to a desire expressed by librarians - to be equipped to support entrepreneurs anytime they seek support through the library. The 8-week program works with librarians to build their knowledge, networks, and confidence in supporting entrepreneurs. Designed to accommodate the unique qualities of each library and utilize existing community assets, the training supports communities in their efforts to foster the creative economy, create a unique sense of place, and encourage local business development.
Initially a grant funded program, Libraries as Launchpads’ Certified Entrepreneurship Librarians training program is now available to individual librarians across the US and Canada.
Registration is open through February 15th, 2023. Visit LibrariesAsLaunchpads.org to learn more and register.
About Creative Startups
Creative Startups is an unmatched leader at providing creative visionaries with the guidance they need to launch and grow their creative companies, from shaping early ideas to scaling globally. Their network of 400+ alumni companies span the globe, raising $301 million USD in venture capital, creating almost 900 jobs, and generating $100 million in new revenues. Their accelerator faculty teach at Stanford, Harvard, ArtCenter, RISD, and their 120+ global mentors are founders, executives, and investors with leading creative companies like Cirque Du Soleil, Disney, Embodied Labs, and Meow Wolf. While most accelerator programs focus solely on technological innovation, Creative Startup’s programming is based on the unique needs of creative entrepreneurs.