A new venture in Ferguson will offer training and assistance to area entrepreneurs in an effort to help spur economic development. Spark Tank – Ferguson, a new pilot program of the Benedictine College School of Business, based in Atchison, Kan., brings together faculty and staff from the college’s Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance and Economics and its Cray Center for Entrepreneurial Services with local partners Civil Righteousness, based in Ferguson, and Premier Business Brokers, based in St. Louis. The group has developed a website, Spark-Tank.org, and plans to start soliciting entrepreneurs, mentors, and Spark Tank team members in August.
“The resilience of the Ferguson community has been tested like no other over the past eight years,” said Jonathan Thomas, president and CEO of Civil Righteousness. “Today, we are poised for a renaissance due to the wealth of talent here and our communal commitment to overcoming yesterday’s challenges. I have great expectation for the potential that will be realized and the lives that will be transformed through entrepreneurship.”
The program contains three phases. After the application period, Phase 1 is six months of training by Benedictine College School of Business faculty, who will facilitate learning about being an entrepreneur and starting a business. This will include content on lifestyle, business modeling, market research, sales channels, financial analysis, and capital allocation, among other topics.
Phase 2 is the pitch event, which will take place in Ferguson in April 2023. Entrepreneurs will give their business pitches to community members, media, and potential investors. Business professionals interested in becoming part of the entrepreneur’s “Spark Team” will also be present.
Phase 3 begins the day after the pitch event, when entrepreneurs begin the process of “drafting” business professionals for their teams. These professionals (marketing, accounting, sales, engineering, etc.) will become full-time, part-time, or volunteer members of the start-up and will help the entrepreneur’s idea come to fruition.
Premier Business Brokers is working on securing a location to be used as a business incubator where entrepreneurs and their Spark Teams will be able to share resources like office space, telephones, computers, etc. The incubator space is currently in progress and the community is hoping to have it in operation by April 2023, following the pitch event and Spark Team draft.
“We are excited to work with Civil Righteousness and Premier Business Brokers on our first Spark Tank program,” said Dave Geenens, businessman, author, associate professor and director of Benedictine’s Thompson Center. “We truly believe this can make a real difference in Ferguson and it aligns perfectly with the college’s new strategic plan to transform culture in America.”