By most measures, around 9 out of 10 new startups fail in the first year.
They fail because their founders lack capital, can’t afford to pay a team, and/or don’t have anyone mentoring them through the challenges they will inevitably face getting a new business off the ground.
For people of color attempting to grow enterprises in the world’s divested communities, the chance of starting a business that lasts more than three years is even slimmer thanks to the lingering injustices of institutional racism, a dire lack of access to funding, and high barriers to entry imposed by inequitable economic forces.
The Running Start entrepreneurship training program (RST) opens the doors of economic opportunity to BIPOC entrepreneurs living in divested and underserved neighborhoods by guiding them through the process of building sustainable businesses. The program is a project of Urban Array, a minority-led restorative investment nonprofit that invests in entrepreneurs of color, redirecting money, energy, and creativity into divested communities.
Through RST, experienced mentors and business experts bring community members through the stages of venture creation while openly addressing challenges and opportunities unique to minority business owners. In a series of RST sessions, participants will learn the art of customer discovery, design thinking, business model development, hypothesis testing, financial modeling, talent recruiting and management, marketing, sales, and fundraising to build enduring enterprises.
Each cohort of the RST entrepreneurship bootcamp will learn over the course of several months how to test the value of their ideas and validate (or invalidate) the problems they are hoping to solve for their target customers. As teams, they will work to transform their hypotheses into evidence-based insights, refine their businesses, and learn how to pivot as needed on the road to building successful startups. Each team will have a network of volunteer specialists who will do the work that the entrepreneurs learn in the course. This allows them to lead a team to successful execution, bringing to life workshop lessons while producing tangible results.
The bootcamp will culminate in becoming eligible for investment from the Restorative Investment Fund, a community loan fund administered by the Urban Array Foundation to empower divested communities from within through diversified and holistic investments.
RSP is offered completely free of charge to qualifying participants. No prior business or startup experience is necessary — all a person needs to qualify is an idea for a startup and a passion for solving a problem with a business solution.
All alumni of RST maintain continuing access to year-round, wrap around support services through Urban Array’s many programs, including access to a virtual business support network, a one-on-one business growth project manager, in-house talent, pro-bono legal services, continuous learning opportunities, funding, and much more.
Our goal is to provide all the support needed to give minority-owned businesses the best chance possible at overcoming hurdles faced by startups so they can succeed at growing and sustaining successful businesses built to last for generations.