Driving Innovation is a program launched by theCO in October of 2017, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that it really came into full swing. January was the start of a lot of new things for theCO, and the different buses that make up Driving Innovation were no exception, each having their own specific undertaking. theLab, the first of these buses, focuses on STEM education and has been visiting various kid’s camps, festivals, high schools, and colleges since this spring. Now finishing their second creation, theVenture, Driving Innovation is shifting its focus to small business owners and entrepreneurs for this specific bus. The end goal is to have three unique buses altogether, but the last one is still in the process of being developed.
The overall mission of the Driving Innovation program is to take these tech-oriented buses to at-risk and distressed counties in Tennessee to educate and inspire communities that would otherwise not have the chance to engage in business and personal growth opportunities. theVenture is the size of a tour bus and will tour to festivals, Chamber of Commerce events, and other entrepreneurship-focused events. Although theCO is still planning details about what will take place inside of theVenture and finishing up renovations, the hope is to have the bus ready to roll by September.
The idea behind theVenture is similar to theCO’s CO.STARTERS program, a nine-week program that essentially takes you through everything you need to know to start a business, from marketing and branding to paying taxes and hiring employees. theVenture will be comparable in that you get a crash course in similar aspects of entrepreneurship. Small business owners will be able to ask questions and get advice from professionals who have experience and can speak from their success. It will be like a rolling conference room where individuals can interact and engage with lawyers, marketers, social media experts, and more.
Bria Pittman, Program and Outreach Manager for Driving Innovation, says her aspiration for theVenture is “mainly to inspire local entrepreneurs.”
“You never know; someone could start a business locally that creates jobs for other people, and even if it’s a small business that creates one or two jobs, that has the potential to grow and create even more jobs,” she says.
Pittman is an entrepreneur herself and graduated from CO.STARTERS in October of 2015, so the idea of producing and generating a community for entrepreneurs in a local and rural area is something that resonates with her.
“Sometimes more than anyone, entrepreneurs can feel very alone because the majority of people around them are not entrepreneurial,” Pittman says. “It’s about helping them start a business and stay encouraged and keep it moving forward. It’s also about community; we want to try to create that in other areas where they don’t have as many opportunities.”
Look for theVenture rolling into your town soon!
To learn more about theVenture, theLab, and all that the Driving Innovation team is up to, visit their website, and follow @tndrivinginnovation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.