Several instructors at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) recently attended and completed a training class at the Kauffman Foundation, the highly-influential Kansas City, Mo.-based nonprofit and founder of the nationwide “One Millions Cups” movement and other programs for startup entrepreneurs.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock officials said business consultants Whitney Horton, Nancy Knighten and Jarrod Norwood, along with training manager Shannon Roberts, all participated in Kansas City foundation’s trademarked “FastTrac NewVenture” program on Jan. 21-22.
Each of the UALR staff members are now certified as FastTrac facilitators, where they are trained to use Kauffman materials to drive entrepreneurial learning by “presenting information, asking questions and directing structured, experiential learning opportunities so participants learn in an optimal environment,” officials said.
All four said they plan to incorporate their experience at the Kauffman Foundation into their work with prospective and current small business owners and clients at the small business training center on the UALR campus. As a Kauffman FastTrac affiliate, ASBTDC is authorized to offer the nonprofits’ and FastTrac programs and workshops, university officials said.
Horton said she left Kansas City impressed with Kauffman’s wide-ranging support for entrepreneurs.
“Kauffman understands the long-term positive impact that investing in entrepreneurs has for our local communities. By providing a variety of educational programs, such as Founders School, FastTrac and 1 Million Cups, they are reaching a variety of people as well as a variety of startup ideas,” she said. “In addition, they are not focusing only on metropolitan areas but also see the value in smaller communities and the entrepreneurial activity happening there.”
Knighten added that her Kauffman experience would help her in classroom and consulting settings, and she gained “additional tools and resources to guide entrepreneurs through the business landscape at any stage.”
“Kauffman taught me to focus on the learning style of the entrepreneur and to customize learning about business practices in a format that best fits the entrepreneur’s needs,” said the UALR instructor. “While the course materials available through Kauffman give a guide, the past experiences and passions of all participants help drive the content of the course.”
In explaining the FastTrac NewVenture program for aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs, Norwood said he learned the value of “not just talking at new entrepreneurs, regurgitating information that can be hard for them to understand.” Kauffman facilitation techniques will help him in “leading them to water, not sticking their heads in it,” he said.
“The Kauffman approach is outstanding in the way that it clearly defines goals and hurdles for entrepreneurs and tailors a process that can be daunting into a process that is understandable and streamlined,” Norwood added.
Besides finishing the first-stage training class for instructors, the Kansas City nonprofit also offers continuing education training online. The four Kauffman devotees at UALR now plan to complete the FastTrac GrowthVenture online training in May.
Roberts also attended FastTrac Program director certification training on Jan. 20, where she will now have additional responsibilities for planning and managing the delivery of Kauffman courses. In addition, ASBTDC Consulting and Market Research Manager Heather Robinette previously attended FastTrac facilitator training.
All five FastTrac-certified ASBTDC staff members collaborate as instructors for the 11-week City of Little Rock entrepreneurial training course, which UALR conducts each spring and fall in partnership with the city’s Small Business Development Office. The spring 2015 course meets on Monday evenings at the Willie L. Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center.