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monthly programming


Welcome to our learning community.

As a learning organization, Innovate Springfield is committed to supporting the personal and professional development of the startup founders that we serve.


The founders that we serve span industries and stages of business and they all come to us with a unique knowledge base and unique concepts, we’ve created tracked program opportunities to support them in their concept and professional growth regardless of where they are in their startup process. Check out a sampling of the programs that we hosted to support their continued success.

Interested in attending one of our stellar programs? Be sure to check out our events page. You can also catch our program replays on the Innovate Springfield YouTube Channel.

Innovate Springfield Velocity Program

​These programs are designed to catalyze the development of new businesses and help resource entrepreneurs to accelerate existing businesses.

  • March 23: AI for Business 101

  • March 30: Ideation and Launching Opportunities

  • April 6: Launching New Products and Finding New Markets

  • April 20: The Investing Economy

  • April 27: Marketing in the New World

Have you ever wondered why some marketing strategies are hugely successful – and others fall flat? You may suspect that the folks designing those slam-dunk campaigns are tapping into some kind of inside knowledge, but have you ever considered that their secret may be…SCIENCE!  Understanding the neurobiology of marketing - or “neuromarketing” - can be a powerful tool for growing a successful business.  The more you know about how the brain processes and responds to marketing stimuli such as advertising, branding, and product packaging, the more effectively you can use these insights to build a strong brand identity, enhance your customer experience, optimize pricing strategies, and improve product design. Join Dr. Jorge Villegas for an exciting discussion on how the brain’s networked nature influences how consumers perceive, think, feel, and make decisions– like deciding to purchase your product or service!

The recent frenetic pace of AI models and applications have been unprecedented, in some cases now outpacing Moore's Law by 2 - 4 times, and perhaps faster than any other major technology in our lifetime. Come hear from keynote Doug Hamilton, head of AI at Nasdaq, how AI is being applied in financial trading and other major industry sectors. Also join the conversation with our esteemed AI experts, both industry practitioners and researchers, on how they are capturing these opportunities and considering related concerns. 

Planning for Life: Retirement - with Joe Dunning from Modern Woodmen  (3/16/2023)

Being an entrepreneur is all about doing things YOUR way - and that includes planning for retirement. Regardless of how much you may have saved for retirement, you need to develop a retirement income strategy that will help you to turn your savings into an adequate and sustainable amount of retirement income. With proper planning, you can provide yourself a guaranteed retirement paycheck that will last as long as you live. Join Joe Dunning of Modern Woodmen in this iSPI Collaborative Workshop to learn more about how you develop a plan to sustain your lifestyle and financial security throughout retirement.

The Rule of 26 for Service-Based Businesses: Three Steps to Doubling Website Revenue - with Michael Buzinski of Buzzworthy Integrated Marketing (2/16/2023)

Have you ever asked yourself, "Self, why is digital marketing so complex for service-based businesses?"

Digital marketing is made complex by two main factors:

  1. The intricacies marketing agencies create to measure success for large enterprise companies.

  2. The plethora of tactics and tools available to obtain enterprise marketing goals.

In this iSPI Collaborative Workshop, Buzz will introduce you to the Rule of 26 and how it can double your website revenue!

Stop guessing about how to make your website work for you. Leverage the Rule of 26 to grow your business by working smarter, not harder. Using Michael’s clear and precise three-step website marketing plan will drastically increase the leads garnered from your website and help you get paid what you are worth.

AI: "The Next Gold Rush"   Opportunities and Implications for Your Business and Society (2/9/2023)

Recent advances in AI have many exclaiming "the next Gold Rush is upon us", predicting its impact will exceed the internet boom. Within 5 days of its November launch, 1 million people signed up for OpenAI's ChatGPT. This rate compares to the 2.5 months it took Instagram's first users to download the app, and 1 months for the first million Spotify users to join. Recent thrusts in AI technology like ChatGPT, as well as others, offer significant opportunities for business, and have profound implications for society. 

What are the opportunities for your business? What new startups will be emerging? What are the implications for society? 

These questions, and many more, will be answered by our expert panelist. Please join the discussion and chance to interact with our experts. 

"Level Up Your Startup: Project Management for Entrepreneurs" - with Stephanie Fuller of Iris Consulting Solutions (2/2/2023)

Are you ready to turn your ideas into action? 
Do you have goals but aren’t sure how to get there?
You know you need a plan to ensure your startup’s success, but how do you lay the foundation?

Let Stephanie Fuller of Iris Consulting Solutions LLC lead you on a tour of your startup’s success! In this practical & empowering workshop, you will refine your ability to:

  1. Take a focused and realistic look at where you’re at now.

  2. Determine where you want to be.

  3. Develop a plan to get there.

  4. Implement that plan!

From website development to onboarding employees to optimizing workflow (and more!), Stephanie’s an expert in helping businesses and non-profits coordinate all their moving parts into big-picture success!

One Year From Now (iSPI Edition!) - with Hailey Ellis-Kelley (1/19/2023)

The One Year From Now Vision (affectionately called the OYFN vision) is a 75-minute session that challenges + supports entrepreneurs in crafting a one year vision for themselves that is clear, compelling and actionable.

It creates a simple target that can help you make powerful decisions with clarity and certainty about…really everything.

And when you’re all done, you’ll have created a master list of the specific skills and characteristics you can work on to create the results you want to see in your life.

Knowing what to work on is a major advantage. No more “binge learning ” trying to find the answers outside of yourself. No more guessing. No more relying on hope.

Join Ben Wallace of W Strategies for a engaging discussion on how to boost your email open rates in order to reach a larger audience of potential customers and generate more sales!

Podcasting 101: Behind the Scenes of Launching Your Own Show! - with The Freelance Coach, Laura Briggs (11/9/2022)

Have you been wanting to expand your market reach and influence via a podcast – but aren’t sure where to start? Or how to deliver a high-quality, impactful podcast once you do? Allow Freelance Coach Laura Briggs to introduce you to your new podcast - and the equipment and skills that go into creating engaging, memorable, and motivating content! Laura will walk you through the basics of how to launch a podcast, demo the basic studio equipment that contributes to a clear and compelling podcast, as well as some industry knowledge on what contributes to podcast popularity and longevity.

Planning for Life: Protection - with Joe Dunning from Modern Woodmen  (10/13/2022)

Many of us grew up watching Disney and may still enjoy watching it with our kids and/or visiting Disneyland. But did you know Walt Disney's whole life insurance cash value provided the funds for his dreams when traditional banks snubbed him? Planning for Life is an amazing program to look at creating financial security. Starting with Protection, Joe will be walking through options and possibilities for protecting what matters most to you.

Learning from your Organization - with Stephanie Maynard-Patrick from the UIS College of Business and Management (9/29/2022)

You’ve attended other seminars, trainings, and programs and have the knowledge you need to run a successful business. But learning from others is only half the process. Engaging in learning from within, by examining the firm’s data and operations, allows firms to make discoveries that will lead to further growth and success. From simple analysis of data from one’s HRIS systems to reveal potential problems in people operations to deeper examinations of critical incidents that can allow for improved future performance, owners can learn a lot from their firm if they only take the time to reflect.

Innovating HR with UIS College of Business and Management - with Stephanie Maynard-Patrick from the UIS College of Business and Management (9/15/2022)

While there are a host of legal regulations that HR is responsible for, it can also serve as a strategic driver of the firm. However, as an entrepreneur, it’s vital to control costs and reinforce the culture you are creating, and sometimes the techniques used in larger firms aren’t ideal or worse are just new fads. This seminar aims to show you how to use tools and techniques that are low cost and high impact to replace more traditional practices, allowing the HR function to become more cost-effective and motivating. This presentation will go over several options, and then on how you can invent practices that will work with your organization.​

Challenge Yourself to Power Up Your Purpose
- with Amy Denney! (

Come learn how you can use the power postures of yoga to build your confidence around your purpose and elevate your business to the next level. This one-hour workshop intensive will give you the opportunity for hands-on practice (beginners are welcome and encouraged!). Bring your No. 1 goal and come prepared to set your intention and watch it soar to reality.

*contact Amy at to learn about her 30-Day challenge and private support group to help hold you accountable during the challenge.

In this presentation, Kurtis Minder, CEO and co-founder at GroupSense will walk the audience through how he became involved in ransomware negotiation while educating the audience on what the ransomware epidemic is all about. Explaining lessons learned in the trenches of cyber response, and how businesses can protect themselves and avoid becoming a victim.

*due to the sensitivity of subject matter presented, this session was not recorded.

Leadership Lab // A Dialogue About Leadership Styles

Molly Lamb, DrPH and Executive Director for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership will facilitate a dialogue about leadership styles in this interactive session.

*due to the sensitivity of subject matter presented, this session was not recorded.

In this presentation, Tristan Brown, Asset Building Counselor with Justine Petersen will share general lending guidelines including:

  • credit improvement tips including a full breakdown of how credit and FICO Scores actually work;

  • the different types of collections and how to bring your overall score up;

  • resource sharing and how the Justine Petersen Program can help you build your credit and achieve your business goals; and well as

  • The ins and outs of the Justine Petersen Program.

It's easy to overlook the amount of writing that goes into your business. Everything from pitch decks and presentations, to flyers and websites. That's why Innovate Springfield has partnered with UIS and Kent State University to bring you the experts who can help. If you're stuck or unsure about what words to use to best describe your products, your value proposition, or your "About" page, Dr. Jennifer Martin and Tabitha Messmore have some tips and tricks for you in this session. 

If you were with us for our Introduction to Creative Copywriting and you're ready to take it to the next level, OR maybe you didn't need that intro session but you're attracted to next-level copywriting, THEN please attend our second session for a more concentrated writing workshop with our experts!

In this session, participants will receive more concentrated feedback and advice on your writing needs.

It's 2021 and everything is online or bust [thanks covid], so it's time to evaluate what you do and how you deliver what you do online. Your website is the virtual “front door” to your business. It can be an effective first impression tool and can set the stage for new business and new opportunities. In this presentation, we'll discuss some ideas around how you can improve your website, creating a better experience for your current and prospective customers.

In this presentation, Stephanie Fuller, PMP, CSM, CIA founder and Principal Consultant at Iris Consulting Solutions will facilitate a fun and focused Vision Board Workshop that will assist you in defining what you truly want in your life and, from there, deriving what your goals look like.

The workshop begins with an exercise to define your priorities and ends with a pictorial representation of your goals, created by you!

We are going electronic so get your Pinterest Boards ready as we create an Electronic Vision Board you can display on whatever device you choose to serve as a daily reminder to keep your vision of success top of mind all year long!

You got into self-employment for the freedom, flexibility, and income potential. But it’s a balancing act when you’re wearing so many hats. Discover how to step back and recalibrate your business for growth in this workshop designed for new and experienced freelancers. Learn top strategies for making the most of your time and maximizing every project as you scale.

Reversing the Exodus: Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Young Talent - with U of I Extension Specialist Pam Schallhorn (5/18/2022)

Communities across Illinois continue to experience an outmigration of its youngest and brightest talent. Ever wonder what can be done to reverse this trend?

Although the effects of the pandemic on outmigration have not had much research devoted to them yet, many experts are predicting that the pandemic may have changed migration patterns, especially in younger adults able to work remotely. University of Illinois Extension Specialist Pam Schallhorn will discuss several research-based strategies that communities can implement now to help reverse this trend, including insights into how remote work may provide more opportunities for young people to stay or migrate back to Illinois communities. 

“There are so many things that are impacted by the outmigration of young talent from Illinois communities, including school enrollment, availability of quality health care, future leadership, a skilled workforce and business development” according to the presenter Pam Schallhorn. “Developing a strategic plan to address outmigration and attract young adults back into Illinois communities could have a significant impact on a community’s future.”

They say “facts tell but stories sell.” Selling - well sales is the lifeline for every business, the oxygen that fuels the flame of your business’s success. What if Public Speaking can help you leverage the power of story to grow your business to new heights?

Whether you’re the next Tony Robbins or you are absolutely terrified at just the thought of having to speak publicly, this session will provide key insights on the relationship between Public Speaking and business growth.

You will also learn practical steps on how to improve your public speaking skills. Finally, as a FREE Bonus - Kazim will also share his top 3 hacks for a killer speech that resonates with your audience. Use these the next time you’re having to speak publicly and connect with your audience like very few people do.

Many managers and business owners procrastinate tough conversations with employees, thinking and hoping that if they continue to treat the employee well, maybe the problem will go away. Unfortunately, it rarely does go away and the manager finds themself in what feels like a hostage situation. Discussing job performance (even "soft skills"), and areas for improvement at work is what matters most in your business! If your employees aren't performing at their best, your business can't perform at it's best. In this session, you'll learn practical tips and even some "scripts" to get the tough conversation started. We'll also talk about good leadership habits that prevent hard conversations from becoming hard in the first place.

This University of Illinois Extension program will provide participants with: (1) methods for identifying stress within themselves and others; (2) techniques on providing empathy and active listening;  (3) examples of constructive emotion-focused coping skills; and (4) a guide to identifying warning signs of suicide and effective research-based actions to take if you feel someone is having thoughts of death or dying.

It's been said that "average managers play checkers while great managers play chess" (Marcus Buckingham). But what does this mean? In chess, all the pieces move differently. Each piece has it's strengths and weaknesses. In order to develop a strong team, managers need to play to the differences in what drives each employee. Is your individual a Persuader, a Promoter, a Captain, or a Guardian? And collectively, is your team a Pathfinding Team, Executing Team, or Stabilizing Team? What strategy is the team best skilled to pursue? In this presentation, we'll discuss different business strategies and the different team types that align to each. We'll also talk about communicating across styles to build a stronger team.

Scott Faingold, a full-time faculty member in the UIS Communication department, will facilitate a practical "how-to" workshop on crafting the story of YOU, because your customers, constituents, and adoring followers WANT TO KNOW!

This webinar focuses on creating automated systems using quickbooks online. With an ever-increasing workload, automating tasks is becoming more popular. In this workshop, we will talk about common tasks you can automate using quick books online such as creating invoices, writing checks, running payroll, etc.

In this session we’ll move beyond the foundation of sending a regular newsletter to introduce other time-saving, revenue-generating strategies and tools in the email toolkit.

In this session we’ll make the case for committing to email as an essential customer-building medium. We’ll lay out a simple process to start and/or maintain the habit or regularly hitting send on a newsletter, while also covering some copywriting and formatting basics.

Building a strong brand presence is both art and science. In this presentation, you'll learn the psychology of art and design in marketing, and how you can apply science to build a stronger brand identity.

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