Entry to Entrepreneurship

Entry to Entrepreneurship


The 2019 Entry to Entrepreneurship program starts September 25, 2019.

Apply here!


Launched in 2015, BerkShares, Inc's business planning program Entry to Entrepreneurship guides students through the process of writing a business plan, while maintaining a special focus on the local economy. Participants are asked to consider what we are currently importing to this region that we could be producing for ourselves instead and are encouraged to look at these “gaps” in the local economy as business opportunities.


The program is offered by BerkShares, Inc. in partnership with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network’s Berkshire Regional Office and in collaboration with Berkshire Community College, whose South County Center hosts the weekly class sessions.


Over the ten-week program, students benefit from the expertise and support of the local business people who volunteer their time in the classroom as instructors, mentors, advisors and business plan reviewers. The program culminates in a public presentation of business ideas by students to an audience of community members.

The curriculum can be found below.


"I wish I had had an opportunity like this when I was in high school – I would probably be a better entrepreneur today!" - Barth Anderson, co-founder of Barrington Coffee Roasters & "on-call" advisor for students in our Entry to Entrepreneurship program.





This program has been made possibe by the following organizations, businesses, and individuals:

The Turkeybush Foundation, The Elitzer Family Fund, Hellman, Shearn, & Arienti LLP,  and Keith & Aldonna Girouard, Black Rock Farm, Mark De Celle of Ameriprise Financial, Schumacher Center for a New Economics, Charles and Angeliki Keil, Cloud Mountain Foundation, Nancy Fitzpatrick and Lincoln Russell, and Smitty Pignatelli.


Entry to Entrepreneurship Resources:

Welcome Packet

Import Replacement Worksheet

Value Proposition Worksheet

Market Research Worksheet

Small Business Finance slideshow


Class of 2018 Students and Mentors

From L to R: Jessica Garb, Kate Chebatoris, Mark Phillips, Chris Blair, Jeff Egan, Howard Lefenfeld, Oskar Hallig, Rachel Moriarty, Bob Climo, Michael Lesko, Maggie McRae, Henry Tirrell

Class of 2017 Students and Mentors

From L to R: Keeley Farnam, Samuel Webb, Jeferson Vera, Anna Houston, Hank Ferlauto, Charley Seckler, Carla Hamida, Vito Vitrano, Lillian Bender, Monica Yen, Alice Maggio, Joe Testa, Andrew LaPatin, Phyllis Webb, Megan Smith


Class of 2016 Students

From L to R Front: Alice Maggio, Fiora Caligiuri-Randall, Hannah Steurnagle, Emma Mitchell, Finn Chebatoris, Michaela Loring, Tyler Coon, Luke Bartini
Back: Zoe Becker, Anna Dupont, Elizabeth Orenstein, Ethan Benoit, Nathaniel Chase, Donovan Sawyer, Abby Quenneville, Nick Dillon

Class of 2015 Students

From L to R: Shane Sims, Gisele Desjardins, Josh Goldberg, Rachel Moriarty, Alice Maggio

Week One: Introductions and Import Replacement

We began Entry to Entrepreneurship with an introduction to the concept of "import replacement," one of the key concepts underlying the Entry to Entrepreneurship course. The following video is an introduction to import replacement.

Week Two: Business Fundamentals

The second lesson is led by Regional Director Keith Girouard and Senior Business Advisor Nancy Shulman of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center. Keith and Nancy present a class on the "fundamentals of business" and walk students through the Business Planning Worksheet. This worksheet provides the outline for the business plans that students prepare during the course.

Keith introduce a tool for evaluating business ideas, and explained that often you need to weigh your priorities as you think about your business.

Week Three: What's your Value Proposition?

The third class is on marketing and market research. We introduce the concept of a 'value proposition,' and illustrate the principles of marketing to participants. Students are provided guidelines for the information that one needs to gather when conducing market research. Guidelines can be seen here.

Week Four: The Beauty of Small Business

Our guest in week four is Phyllis Webb, co-owner with her husband Dale of The Magic Fluke Co. in Sheffield, MA. The Magic Fluke Co. makes ukuleles and other musical instruments, sourcing all their parts from within the United States and often from within New England. Phyllis Webb presents her business to the Entry to Entrepreneurship class as an inspirational example of a small manufacturing business in the United States that seeks to be as local as possible.

Week Five: The Numbers

Keith Girouard, senior business advisor and regional director for the Pittsfield office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network returns for week five, this time to talk about "the numbers." Students are introduced to a process to identify and calculate start up expenses and develop a budget for their business.

Week Six: Law and Order

In week six, a local lawyer reviews the legal requirements to launch a business. A bookkeeper shares how to track income and expenses and familiarizes students with basic profit & loss statements and balance sheets.

Week Seven: Financing a Small Business

In week seven students learn about small business lending from local experts--the commercial lending team from Lee Bank!

Week Eight: 10 Things an Investor Wants to Know

In week eight our guest speaker is Erik Bruun, President of SoCo Creamery and founding board member of the Railroad Street Youth Project and Project Native. Bruun presents a lesson called "10 Things An Investor Would Want to Know," in which he offers ten different elements that students ought to consider including in their presentations. Students practice their "pitch."

Week Nine: What's Next? Resources for Ongoing Support

In the last class before the final presentations, we discuss different support systems available to students after graduation from Entry to Entrepreneurship. Julie Hannum, director of off-campus centers at Berkshire Community College, describes the different business programs offered by BCC. Keith Girouard discusses what his organization offers to people who are interested in starting or developing a business. Students are introduced to BerkShares local currency as tool to help develop their business and the local economy.

Week Ten: Entry to Entrepreneurship Showcase

In the final event for the Entry to Entrepreneurship program, students present their business plans to the public. Each student received  BerkShares in seed money, presented by BerkShares, Inc. Upon submitting their final business plans, students receive feedback from business plan reviewers and mentors, to help them improve their business plans.

Recordings of past presentations from 2017 and 2016.