In 2006, InnovateU (formerly Operation JumpStart) was created at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
This program offered the FirstStep FastTrac course developed by the Kauffman Foundation to aspiring entrepreneurs.
In the program’s first five years, over 600 individuals in rural communities in Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee had completed the program.
This lead to the immediate creation of 225 new businesses, with an additional 25% of participants going on to launch within 2 years.
Of those nearly 300 businesses, 58% were low income, 36% were unemployed, and 24% were minority owned.
In 2011, the Foundation joined with the Missouri Innovation Corporation (MIC) to continue the development and distribution of the program.
This lead to the training of over 8,000 entrepreneurs by more than 150 Affiliates nationwide.
In 2016, the Foundation transferred ownership of the program to the MIC.