Ready. Get set.


Learn about START, our 10-week entrepreneurship incubator taught by Columbia Business School faculty.
Deliver your vision into the world while building a sustainable business model to shepherd its growth -- and yours.


In the ever-shifting American religious landscape, the vast majority of philanthropic and venture dollars are directed towards sustaining legacy institutions, while entrepreneur-led startups are frequently an afterthought. Start seeks to provide an ecosystem of support – the highest-level resources – to the faith-rooted spiritual entrepreneurs who are building the next iterations of faith in action, and reweaving the social, cultural, and spiritual fabric of America.

Start is an MBA-level certificate program that develops your skills as a Spiritual Entrepreneur and prepares you to imagine, design and launch a spiritual enterprise.  Start is taught by seasoned faculty from Columbia Business School and Glean, with additional instruction from a diverse group of field experts. Our “hands-on” course addresses critical issues at each stage of the venture development process and prepares you to embark on your spiritual entrepreneurship journey.

Applications are currently closed.

This course is for...

Faith-rooted leaders of all backgrounds seeking to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, a robust skill set focused on best serving their constituents, and the frameworks and tools to build an innovative venture that bring their faith into action.

Visionary spiritual entrepreneurs who are prepared to design, build, launch, and grow a venture that helps supports meaning-making, belonging, and the pursuit of equitable justice.

What does Start offer you?

A three-part MBA-level entrepreneurship certificate program taught through our partnership with Columbia Business School: opening online retreat, weekly 2-hour online classroom meetings, feedback on assignments and coaching from course faculty and peers in your cohort, and a two-day closing retreat at Columbia.

Step-by-step guidance in identifying a problem, conducting a customer discovery campaign, designing a value proposition, creating a business model, and taking steps toward launching your venture

A multifaith cohort of like-minded innovators who share wisdom from diverse perspectives

Ongoing venture development coaching by Glean faculty from Columbia Business School and our network of subject-matter experts


Access to experts in new product innovation, marketing and advertising, design thinking, organizational culture, and more


Course Structure

Start is comprised of three major modules that build upon each other throughout the duration of the course: Insight, Design, and Launch. Hover over each module below to read an overview, and continue scrolling to read more about what you can have expected to accomplish during each module.


4-week course in customer discovery and design thinking explores a problem from the perspective of the people who experience it and identify specific benefits that might be delivered through a new and unique solution



4-week course in business model development and testing hones your idea and prepares you to launch a prototype to test key assumptions and venture viability




2-week course guides participants through a structured test of the venture with real customers and final preparation to launch their venture





Program Benefits

This course will help you understand a problem from the perspective of the people experiencing it and conceptualize a solution that can make a real difference in their lives.  At the highest level, you will come away with clear answers to the following questions:


  • What metrics are critical to measure and validate psychological, social and spiritual impact assumptions?

  • How do I identify and articulate individual, communal and spiritual problems in an accurate way, reflecting how people truly experience these problems and their associated challenges?

  • How do I create effective interview protocols and surveys to help validate my assumptions on customer problems (pain points), solutions, and benefits (expected gain)?

  • How do I assess current solutions in the ecosystem in order to build best practices as well identify gaps?

  • How do I translate the problems people are experiencing into benefits and opportunities for impact of a potential solution?​​




Program Benefits

During this module, you will develop an business model for your venture and develop a plan to test customer acceptance and other key assumptions. At the highest level, you will come away with clear answers to the following questions:


  • How do I develop a business model to test my assumptions about product offerings and market demand?

  • How is building a spiritual venture distinct from other commercial ventures? In what ways are they aligned?

  • How do I create effective interview protocols and surveys to help validate my assumptions on customer problems (pain points), solutions, and benefits (expected gain)?

  • How do I develop a minimal viable product in order to gain additional feedback on critical product performance features?



Program Benefits

This course will help you develop answers to the following questions and prepare you to launch your venture:


  • What is the most agile way to develop new product and services that will gain market traction quickly?


  • How do I integrate spiritual practices into customer engagement, ethical decision-making, sustainable product design, brand messaging, financial planning, and team leadership?


  • What are current approaches for cost effective customer acquisition and retention?

  • How do I communicate our values and principles through conscious branding?

  • How do I build credible financials based on reasonable, benchmarked assumptions?

  • What metrics are critical to measure and monitor new venture success and scalability?

  • How do I approach early funding sources to support early venture launch and growth?​​


Course Calendar

Wednesdays, November 2021 through February 2022: 

  • Wednesday, November 10

  • Wednesday, November 17

  • Wednesday, December 1 

  • Wednesday, December 8

  • Wednesday, December 15 

  • Wednesday, January 5 

  • Wednesday, January 12 

  • Wednesday, January 19 

  • Wednesday, February 2 


Course Requirements

This course requires an intensive commitment by each participant throughout the entire 10-week program.  

  • Reflection essay prior to the first retreat, including individual learning goals (3 hours)

  • Attendance and full participation at the Opening Online Retreat (November 11th @ 12 - 4 PM EST) and Closing Retreat (February 10th & 11th @ 9 - 5 EST) - this requirement is mandatory

  • Timely completion of weekly homework (approx 2-3 hours per week)

  • Participation in the weekly live lecture and discussion (2 hours per week)

  • Presentation of final deliverable at the end of each module - Insight, Design, Launch (4 hours each)

  • Engagement with your coach including an assignment to share three takeaways from the discussion (5 meetings, 1.5 hours each including the assignment)

  • Reflection essay due one week after closing retreat, including self-assessment of individual learning goals (3 hours)


You must fulfill at least 85% of these requirements to be eligible to receive the Certificate in Spiritual Entrepreneurship at the end of the program


We are committed to making this course accessible to and inclusive of all, and we value your participation. As such, we are able to offer limited scholarships to make this program more affordable. Scholarships can be requested in the application.

Individuals or teams of up to three members working on the same venture are welcome to apply.  Cost is $799 plus $250 for each additional team member (max of $1450).