Free entrepreneur program goes virtual to support Dayton’s small businesses

Along with everything else these days, Launch Dayton has turned its Early Risers Academy into an online platform in order to continue serving local business owners and entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis.

The 10-week program is free, which is helpful because so many businesses are feeling the financial crunch right now. Launch Dayton’s current mantra is: If you can’t spend time working in your business, we want to help you work on your business.

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The program is designed to take aspiring entrepreneurs from idea to launch, or to help newer small business owners plan and train to successfully pivot or scale. Aspiring founders will receive pitch coaching and hands-on mentoring, weekly discussions with successful entrepreneurs and experts, access to Dayton’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as alumni support after graduating the academy.

The next Early Risers Academy cohort starts on Tuesday, April 7, and runs through June 9. A tech cohort will launch the following day, Wednesday, April 8, and run through June 10.  If there is enough interest, Launch Dayton will add additional cohorts to meet the need.

Need extra incentive to apply? Each program will conclude with a pitch event in which one graduate from each cohort will win $1,000 to infuse into their business.

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Entrepreneurs of all types are encouraged to apply. “We are intentionally carving out space for minority founders and business owners to access resources that help build solid foundations and provide hands-on support in order to create successful businesses,” said KeAnna Daniels, program manager at Launch Dayton. “We are committed to reaching non-tech and historically under-represented founders who haven’t always felt seen in Dayton’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

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The tech cohort offers in-depth information on topics such as prototype development, and how to design to appeal to end users and for large-scale manufacturing. It will be run by representatives from Converge Technologies, an engineering and business advisory firm that helps companies with development and commercialization of novel technologies. Applicants should be able to commit at least 4 to 6 hours per week on coursework for the duration of the academy.

“From Air Force and university research labs to urban kitchens and garages, innovation is a force in the Dayton region,” Daniels continued. “Our diverse entrepreneurs are developing new technologies and processes and we’re excited to offer these tech-focused cohorts to help them reach the world.”

Early Risers Academy is supported by Launch Dayton partner organizations Wright State Research Institute and The Entrepreneurs Center with their respective grant funds through the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment and Ohio Third Frontier’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program.

Interested applicants can apply here. For more information, contact Daniels  at

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