CentreWorks to host Liftoff entrepreneurship class this spring

Published 9:39 am Friday, January 27, 2023

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CentreWorks will hold its sixth LIFTOFF entrepreneurship class from March 1 to May 3. Applications are accepted online at CentreWorks.org.

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The class is for emerging entrepreneurs and those curious about entrepreneurship. It teaches the foundation to start or enhance any business.

The program meets once a week on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. for 90 minutes, and it goes for 10 weeks. It costs $75 for Kentucky residents in Boyle, Garrard, Mercer, Casey, Washington, Marion, and Lincoln Counties.

Liftoff combines Centre College students with community members, pairing them in teams to work on their business ideas. Centre students start the course when their semester starts on Feb. 1, giving them time to learn and prepare for when community members join in March. CentreWorks Directors Anthony and Andrea Margida teach the class.

Community members usually come in with a tentative business idea they want to develop, and students help them. But this time, Centre students will also be developing their own business ideas, which is a bigger commitment for those students.

Anthony Margida said they have 13 students enrolled, and are expecting about 12 to 15 local entrepreneurs to apply, which will allow the teams to be one-on-one.

Throughout the class, local professionals will come to teach segments on law, marketing, administration, and financial components.

CentreWorks started this class in 2020 as a way to teach and support area entrepreneurs and foster local business growth. The Margidas teach the Human-Centered Approach to Innovation, a form of design thinking.

“Anybody can be an innovator, and you can be an innovator by first focusing on the people you want to serve,” Anthony explained. “That’s where business starts, is to find out who you want to serve, not what product you’re going to offer them, but who do you want to serve. And if you involve those people in the process of developing your product, identifying and solving problems, and forming products and prototypes, your odds for success are much greater.”

Entrepreneurs in the class go through the process of interviewing people they want to serve, defining a problem they want to solve, developing a prototype solution, testing it, and making final changes to their prototype.

“What they’re being taught here in terms of the entrepreneurial mindset is really a growth mindset that is empowering in life beyond business,” Anthony said.

Over five sessions, Liftoff has had 45 community members and 52 Centre students. Community graduates have launched 12 startups.

Some of those successful startups by Liftoff graduates include Plaid Elephant by Kate Snyder; GeriActive by Amanda Pruitt; Larland Beef by Laura Richard; York’s Corks by Kathy York; Parthenon Greek-American Eats by Megan Berketis; Shamrock Legacy Coaching by Susanna Thomas; and AgeWell Senior Service by Mandy Emmons, which offers comprehensive services for senior citizens to stay at home longer rather than go to a care facility.

Anthony said most people don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs, but anyone can become one.

“It’s all about building this culture of innovation,” Anthony said. “You don’t have to be born an entrepreneur, you can become an entrepreneur by taking on the mindset; we talk about the characteristics of the mindset, we teach those, we practice those as part of Liftoff.”

The class will end with a showcase of all the business ideas on May 4. Class members will present their ideas in a pitch competition where the whole community can meet, see, and understand what the entrepreneurs do.

There will be celebrity judges, free food, and it will be open to the public to attend.

Liftoff applications are being accepted at CentreWorks.org, and class members will be announced at least 10 days before the March 1 start date.