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Branson nonprofit launches 'startup bootcamp'

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Elevate Entrepreneurs, the latest program from the nonprofit Elevate Branson, is launching this year with a focus on helping startups succeed.

Elizabeth Hughes, director of Elevate Entrepreneurs, said a June 24 launch event would lay out the groundwork for the program. The initiative is designed to host two cohorts per year, with the first scheduled to start in September. She said there would be a registration fee of $100-$150 that would be given back after the program is completed.

"I would call it a startup bootcamp," Hughes said. "You have a 12-week business academy, wherein you'll get very pragmatic, methodical learning on how to build and open a successful side hustle."

In launching Elevate Entrepreneurs, Elevate Branson purchased curriculum from Jersey City, New Jersey-based Rising Tide Capital. It's been implemented in 13 states, and Branson marks only the second rural partner, Hughes said.

"On average, the entrepreneurs coming out of this curriculum see a 112% increase in business sales within the first two-plus years," she said. "Rising Tide entrepreneurs have an 87% survival rate compared to the national average of 50%."

Hughes noted, as well, that Rising Tide participants have an average household income increase of 63% in the first two years, along with a 59% reduction in the use of public assistance.

Hughes said she is drawing from contacts in her career to help the program get off the ground, including her time as public relations director for College of the Ozarks.

Jim Freeman, director of the Career Center at C of O, and Hayden Head, a retired professor from the school, will be on board as instructors, Hughes said, noting instructional courses would cover building credit and obtaining capital. Additionally, participants will have access to business coaches who will help startups after the program concludes.

With the first cohort, Elevate Entrepreneurs is capping the class load at 15 participants, Hughes said, and future classes would be capped at 25 participants.

Elevate Branson also is behind the Elevate Community tiny-home project, according to past reporting.

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