Startup Support

Columinate: Who We Are

At Columinate, we are catalysts for common good. Our consultants share strategies, tools, and skills to help purpose-driven organizations build and empower community. From the city to the suburbs and beyond, co-ops are both the foundation and the backbone of strong communities. Our role is to illuminate solutions to guide these organizations forward. Founded in 1994, Columinate works with mission-driven organizations on their most [...]

Columinate Supports Ohio Startup Gem City Market

Consultants bring innovation, passion to the groundbreaking project (from Left) Corrine Saunders, Kenya Baker, Lela Klein, Wynston Estis and Amaha Sellassie participate in the Gem City Market ceremonial groundbreaking. Dayton, OH September 30, 2019: A groundbreaking engagement is underway between Columinate consultants and Gem City Market in Dayton, OH. The consulting cooperative is providing managers-on-contract to support a 2020 store [...]

Know Your Where & Why: The Value of CAT Surveys

Knowing where you draw your business from is a good idea; knowing how you’re performing in your trade area is even better. A Customer Address and Transaction (CAT) survey accomplishes both, giving you a valuable snapshot to inform marketing focus. It’s a straightforward analysis worth returning to time and time again. “The CAT survey is particularly useful for generating more sales without spending a [...]

Co-op Capitalization Campaigns that Engage and Inspire

Research suggests that public speaking tops the list as the number-one fear-inducing activity for most people. Put that together with asking people for money, and you’ve got a potent combination for high anxiety. If you have a project you believe in—especially if you’re a cooperator seeking to finance a startup or expansion—sharing your passion for why you think people should support it doesn’t have [...]

Video Field Guide: Membership Growth

Ben Sandel is a board leadership consultant and capital campaign expert working with startups and established co-ops helping them to reach their fundraising goals using best practices and clear planning gleaned from a multitude of successful fundraising efforts from food co-ops and startups nationwide. In this short presentation, Ben imparts some great top-level wisdom about how to plan and organize a successful campaign and [...]

East Aurora: Early, Impactful Investment Led to Opening Co-op

East Aurora Co-op Market East Aurora, NY Founded:  2010 Opened:  June 2016 Number of members:  1,280 Number of employees:  25 Member investment:  $200 Retail square feet:  4,445 East Aurora Food Co-op in upstate New York has been open for over a month now, but they continue to celebrate the co-op’s opening in large and small ways.  It is always a giant accomplishment for a [...]

When and Who to Hire (or Contract) for Startups

As a new co-op project progresses through the 3 stages of the development process and the workload and complexity of the co-op development process increases, founding team and board members often wonder when to hire help, and for what roles. Though the size, skills and situation of each startup group vary, there are points along the 4 Cornerstones in 3 Stages development model where [...]

Membership Growth Strategies for Startups: Common Features of Success

By Ben Sandel 182 January-February 2016 Gaining members quickly and efficiently is a major hurdle for most startup co-ops. A co-op is selling a dream when it has no store, minimal (if any) staff, and, when organizing in areas that don’t have other food co-ops, no credible examples to refer to. This can make membership growth slow and painful. Nevertheless, some startups have had [...]