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The National Center, Creative Startups Join Forces for Five-Week Innovation Challenge
Program available to Arizona-based, Native-owned startups

MESA, AZ- The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and Creative Startups are partnering to bring a new accelerator program to Native American entrepreneurs and businesses based in Arizona. Innovation Challenge is a five-week, intensive, cohort-based, and hands-on course providing entrepreneurs essential knowledge and insights into pathways to business growth and sustainability. Topics include customer discovery, business model development, pricing and cost management, cash flow projections, and building a sales funnel. Registration is due on September 25. Participation is limited to 25 businesses to ensure each business receives personalized attention. Click here to register today.

“The National Center is thrilled to partner with Creative Startups to provide yet another avenue for Native entrepreneurs to achieve their business dreams,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “I encourage Arizona-based Native-owned businesses – or Native entrepreneurs with a great idea – to sign up for this innovative and hands-on programming.”

Participants who register by September 10 will only be charged $69.99 per person, or $139.99 for a business with up to three founders. After September 10, the fee increases to $89.99 per person, or $199.99 for a business with up to three founders.

This course is ideal for Native American entrepreneurs building businesses in innovation and creative fields including tech, animation and gaming, film and media, fashion and design, food and agriculture, and more. Ideal applicants are in earlier stages of business set-up and growth, with revenues below $250,000. For more advanced businesses, sign up to be notified when we open applications for our full Accelerator.

“Through our partnership with the National Center, we hope to uplift new businesses that will transform their communities,” said Alice Loy, PhD, CEO and Co-founder of Creative Startups. “Bringing in the National Center’s decades of experience working with and advocating for Tribal enterprises was essential to our efforts, and we look forward to seeing the participating businesses grow and thrive.”

Creative Startups has worked with over 450 startup and scale-up companies in the USA, Middle East, Asia, and Europe. These companies have generated $100 million in new revenues, created nearly 800 jobs, and raised over $300 million in financing. Based in New Mexico, Creative Startups works with Native communities and entrepreneurs to design and deliver relevant entrepreneurship programs for Native businesses.


The weekly cohort meetings will take place online using Zoom. The program culminates in an in-person, two-day gathering “Deep Dive” to be hosted at the National Center headquarters in Mesa, Arizona on November 9 and 10.

Benefits to Participants

  • Launch your business or enter into a new growth market
  • Understand business model fundamentals and focus your priorities as startup founder
  • Set a path toward business growth that aligns with your values and vision
  • Build a Cash Flow Plan
  • Gain insight into sources of capital and fundraising processes


Important Dates

  • September 25th – Registration closes
  • October 3rd – Payment closes
  • October 11th – November 5th — cohort meets twice weekly for 1 hour on Tues/Thursdays
  • November 9th and 10th – “Deep Dive” at National Center headquarters in Mesa, AZ



Those registering by September 10 will be charged $69.99 per person, or $139.99 for a business with up to three founders. Those fees increase to $89.99 and $199.99 respectively, after September 10. The course fee covers all course content and materials, as well as meals during Deep Dive. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. Payment due upon registration.


How much time should I plan to spend on this course? 

Most participants spend about 10-12 hours/week. As an entrepreneur, you know that you get out of it what you put into it!

I don’t have customers yet. Is this course a good fit?

Yes, this course can help you move into the market and get started! There will be some content that will be more challenging for you – but lots of entrepreneurs have gone from idea to launch through the Challenge.

My business isn’t in the creative industries. Can I still register?

Yes, and the core content is relevant to all growth businesses. The case studies and speakers will likely be “creative” in nature, but we have had many tech and manufacturing companies join our programs.

Course Format

  • Active Learning, not Passive Watching. Entrepreneurs are do-ers. This course is all about doing. No boring videos, no lengthy lectures. Instead, as experienced entrepreneurship educators, this course puts to work the best practices of experiential learning including peer-based learning, discussions, case studies, hands-on activities, and self-reflection.
  • Learn with a Cohort of Peers. Being an entrepreneur can feel lonely. This course gives you a chance to connect with other entrepreneurs in breakout groups, class discussions, and on slack. Together you share challenges and wins, hard-won knowledge and networks that will accelerate one others’ success.
  • Accountability and Feedback. Building a successful company is only partly about knowing the ins-and-outs of business. Most of it is about implementing your plan. With accountability “peer pods” and ample peer feedback, this course provides the structure and support essential to putting your plan into action.
  • The Real Deal. Engage with mentors and investors who have successfully slogged through the challenges of raising the right capital and growing creator-led companies. You’ll hear from founders of Native Realities, The Feasting Place, Beyond Buckskin, and more.