Winston Starts, in conjunction with West End Learning, now offers the Winston Starts Hub, a one-stop-shop connecting founders, mentors, partners, and resources to support scaling businesses. Winston Starts members can access the Hub at www.winstonstartshub.com.
Establishing a central database for business resources has been on Winston Starts’ agenda for a while, and lockdowns related to COVID forced leaders to consider safe ways that could enable members to share information digitally. Their goals were to support founders, better connect their community, and exchange resources virtually.
Bob Boles, former Winston Starts President and a current mentor, explained the advantages of having the Hub, “The Hub is giving us a digital content platform that enables us to deliver valuable content and resources to our companies when and where they need it. It provides a many-to-many form of collaboration and content sharing that is much stronger/richer than one-to-many forms of content sharing. It also provides us with a way to organize our information and content that we had struggled with previously.”
“Peer and mentor advice, and pre-vetted resources, are invaluable to other founders joining our program,” said Betsy Brown, Vice President of Business Development and Cohort Operations at Winston Starts and a champion behind developing this new kind of curriculum for founders. “Working with Andrea and West End Learning has been fantastic as they have the professional experience and educational background to build a custom platform to hold any number categories relevant to a startup. They also have the ability to scour resources to find the latest material to support the information that we want to store on our platform, updating it in real time with the latest articles, podcasts, etc. Instead of utilizing a canned, outdated curriculum, we can customize and grow the content as we go.”
She described the Hub as, “a fantastic platform for peer collaboration. Founders will share what worked for them and what didn’t. The Hub is becoming an important backbone for building our rich custom scaling program for startups ready to grow as efficiently as they can!”
"Instead of utilizing a canned, outdated curriculum, we can customize and grow the content as we go.” --Betsy Brown, Vice President of Business Development and Cohort Operations at Winston Starts
Content on the Hub is provided by the Winston Starts community, including guest speakers. One of the most popular pages features guest speaker Doug Kaufmann, an expert on product-market fit; it includes a video of his presentation and a selection of recommended podcasts, videos, and articles on the topic. Other sections share profiles on all mentors, founders, and companies in Winston Starts, organizing them by industry, company stage, and more. A directory of investors and services for entrepreneurs is also included. Additional recordings and resources from Winston Starts members are continuously added, growing the library for future members.
For founder Kevin Clark of Point Motion, having access to the Hub’s resources gave him the support he needed for his startup. "The Hub helped put us in touch with employee handbook guides and useful presentations, which reinforce important concepts for startup founders. Other organizations supporting founders should have a resource like this."
The Hub lists People, Companies, Resources, and Service Guides, all of which are part of the Winston Starts network. After selecting each category, a breakdown of subcategories is provided on the page to help users find who and what they are looking for easily. For example, a search on intellectual property retrieves instructive articles, videos of guest presentations on the topic, mentors with IP expertise, and legal firms specializing in IP.
The Hub’s Service Guides is one of its most-used features. This area of the Hub lists Winston Starts’ partnerships with vendors and includes information about member discounts. Winston Starts mentor Jeff Livesay noted, “We have used resources like the listing of investors and service providers. The resources helped us organize our efforts for those kinds of contacts. ”
"The Hub helped put us in touch with employee handbook guides and useful presentations, which reinforce important concepts for startup founders. Other organizations supporting founders should have a resource like this." --Kevin Clark, Founder of Point Motion
Barbara West has used the Hub for her new role at Winston Starts. “As a new employee to Winston Starts, the Hub gave me instant access to all of our mentors, founders, and alumni. When I am going to meet a mentor or talk with a founder for the first time, I always go to the Hub first and read their bio or read up on the founder's company. It has helped me tremendously.”
West End Learning powers the Hub platform and is also a member of the Winston Starts community. Its founder, Andrea Eastman-Mullins, became aware of this need through discussions with leaders at Winston Starts. “I thought we could help with what we were building in entrepreneurship,” she said. West End Learning’s academic platform, Syllect, is a curated database of online resources devoted to entrepreneurship education for college students. “I noticed that incubators and accelerators also had a need to educate entrepreneurs, and some of the best resources were already there within their community. Creating the Hub for Winston Starts allowed us to think creatively about supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Andrea said. “It was a gratifying collaboration.”
Interested in creating a similar Hub for your incubator or program? Contact us to see how we can help.