Meet the Fall 2019 CO.STARTERS

The CO.STARTERS program is a nine-week cohort-based curriculum that runs an individual through the business model canvas from start to finish. Innovate Springfield runs 2 cohorts per year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. The CO.STARTERS program challenges participants to:

  • test their assumptions,

  • experience customer discovery,

  • fine-tune their message,

  • cultivate organic mentor relationships,

  • find their break-even point and more!

Get to know the starters who participated in the Fall 2019 cohort, and learn more about the program on our website at: https://www.innovatespringfield.org/co-starters

Meet Brian Boucher, FOUNDER of Brian J. Boucher/Junkyard Dev, providing independent PC game and app development.

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Alton, IL

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: It's a great community with plenty of things to do.

Q: What's your horoscope sign?

A: Scorpio

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Take breaks.

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I am currently leading my second game development project with an online game development community.

Meet Stephanie Cullen, FOUNDER of Stephanie Cullen Design. Stephanie Cullen Design is a freelance digital artist and designer providing creative communication solutions to individuals and small businesses.

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Springfield, IL

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: I love Springfield because it has all the charm of a small town with a bigger city vibe. My favorite part is the downtown area. The people and community are great and so supportive of one another. I see the potential for growth and opportunity here in Springfield. There is always something to do and Springfield clearly has a passion for the arts.

Q: What's your profesh bio?

A: I have been working professionally as a graphic designer for over 10 years. I recently left my full-time position to work on more projects that I have a passion for and that make an impact on my community. I help individuals and small businesses tell their story and connect people.

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Take a break to walk my dog, Rusty - a 3-year-old Boston Terrier

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: When my father passed away the summer I graduated high school I understandably struggled in my first year of college. I found graphic design shortly later and finding that passion helped me to overcome the difficulties of losing a parent and graduate with honors. I then worked as a graphic designer for 10 years, paying off my student loans (all on my own), and then decided it was time to take the leap to entrepreneurship and start my own design company. Although it is a new adventure, it has been a great experience and success.

Meet Mary Senger, FOUNDER of Coffee and Curios. Coffee & Curios is a full-service occult library and cafe where you can study, shop, and sip magick.

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Springfield, IL

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: I love Springfield because it's growing and we all have opportunities to be part of that growth.

Q: What's your profesh bio?

A: Mary Senger was born on Christmas day, giving her a false sense of importance. While she spent her childhood seeking magic, she didn't discover it until adulthood. Magic, storytelling, and her cat, Mogwai, are the great loves of her life. She's written some books, but none of them are finished or very good. On top of her full time job, she reads tarot and runes and makes magical artifacts for art shows and events.

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Listen to podcasts.

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: In summer 2016, I taught a screenwriting workshop for middle schoolers and helped them write and act in their own short film, which I produced and edited with help from a local videographer.

Meet Kevin Wasmer, FOUNDER of Pedal Python. At Pedal Python, we make and sell the best cable organizer option for musicians, sound professionals and home electronics consumers.

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: St. Louis, MO

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: The community here is soooo supportive, it's a great launching pad for any company trying to get the heartbeat of middle America.

Q: What's your profesh bio?

A: I'm an electric guitar player and singer for the band Enamel. You learn a lot of DIY skills being in a rock band, everything from writing songs to doing promo to designing merch and websites. When other guitarists started asking where they could buy the cable organizer system I invented to make my load-ins faster, the light bulb went off and I started Pedal Python.

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Write songs in my head.

Q: What motto/quote do you live by?

A: Done is better than perfect.

Meet Gordon Davis, FOUNDER of Whimsy Tea Company, committed to bringing the best teas in the world to you, at affordable prices.

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Cadillac, MI

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: It is a town of great historical significance and infinite opportunities for the future.

Q: What's your profesh bio?

A: Crew Leader to Park Ranger to Teaching Assistant to Youth Counselor to Firefighter with 20+ years of IT work mixed in.

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: I drink Jasmine Tea.

Q: What motto/quote do you live by?

A: Seek first to understand.

Meet Kelly Sholtis, LeAnn Divjak + Kathi Lee, FOUNDERs of Kathi, Kelly & Me. Kathi, Kelly & Me is a super fun business offering unique, hand-made crafts and crafting experiences for the craft-lovers in your life.

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Springfield, IL (Kelly) Havana, IL (LeAnn)

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: I was born and raised in Springfield it is where my family lives. I love all of the local restaurants, breweries, and shops that call Springfield home. (Kelly)

I live and work here with my family. I have lived in and around Springfield my whole life. It is the biggest small town you will ever live in. (LeAnn)

Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: I have 18-year-old triplets and I am so proud of the amazing adults they are becoming. (Kelly) I have done a half marathon in 15 states. (LeAnn)

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Drink hot tea! (Kelly) Exercise at 5 AM (LeAnn)

Q: What motto/quote do you live by?

A: It doesn't matter how fast, forward is forward. (Kelly)

Meet Laura Rabe, FOUNDER of Cherrybrook Photography. Cherrybrook Photography is a specialty photography business located in Springfield, Illinois and serving the greater Midwest area. Specializing in event coverage and the delivery of stunning portraiture that captures the story of the day in one picture, we book 6-18 months in advance and offer more info at www.cherrybrookphotography.com

Q: Where's your hometown?

A: Payson, IL

Q: Why do you love Springfield?

A: The community. There are so many opportunities and things to do.

Q: What's your profesh bio?

A: I'm Laura Rabe, a professionally trained photographer and former military photojournalist that wanted to capture history. I now capture the history of individuals, documenting their love story on one of the biggest days of their life. I specialize in delivering stunning portraiture that shows action and captures the story of the day in one picture. I book 6-18 months in advance and offer more info at www.cherrybrookphotography.com

Q: One thing you do to stay sane during the workday?

A: Run. Every day.

Q: What motto/quote do you live by?

A: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better ..."


Q: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: Running a small business and keeping everything straight.

Learn more about CO.STARTERS at Innovate Springfield on our website: https://www.innovatespringfield.org/co-starters.

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