Check out what's happening this week @InnovateSPI
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Don't forget to stuff your socks full of local products and services this holiday season! The iSPI Holiday Shop makes it super easy because when you support local small businesses, you're supporting the local economy in a meaningful way.

If you want to support the creation of local jobs, create a meaningful impact in the lives of your neighbors, bridge the equity gap, and reduce your environmental footprint, you can start by supporting local businesses.

Our final newsletters of the year will feature some of the products and services available in the iSPI Holiday Shop, so cozy up and cruise cyberspace with us.

Ad Astra Wine Bar + Market

Ad Astra is opening their online gift shop with a preview of what you can expect when they open their doors! Get gift cards, purchase memberships, search for locally made artisan products, and more!


Custom Cup Coffee

In order to create great roasted coffee, Custom Cup only selects coffee from superior growing regions around the world, looking for the best offerings possible. By taking pride in their coffee vendors, roasting process, and freshness, you can taste the difference of a roast to order coffee in every cup. Because coffee makes an excellent gift, NOW you can purchase gift cards, totes, stickers, and Hydro Flasks to make their holiday-gift-boxes extra special! ​


Funky Scentsations

Funky Scentsations elevates your at-home spa experience with handmade bath bombs, body butter, and coming soon, candles by Funky Scentsations. Treat yourself to Tropical Funky Body Butter, Margarita Bath Bombs, and other funky-fun spa scentsations.​



Bolster up those gifts baskets and stuff their stockings with fiber-infused water from hellowater! They've recently introduced hellowater Defence, a patented technology that creates a shield against incoming toxins by working with and bolstering our primary chemical processing engine, P450, helping your body accelerate the removal of toxins.

​Available at: Target, Walmart.


Kathi, Kelly & Me

Show them just how thoughtful you are with a handmade gift crafted right here in the heartland. Kathi, Kelly & Me are three Springfield-based educators who LOVE to craft and share their talents. They've been extra busy in the workshop crafting something for EVERYONE on your list.

​Available at: The Roost, Hilltop Nursery.


Visit the iSPI Holiday Shop


At Innovate Springfield community is what it’s all about! It’s the most collaborative, supportive, and authentic environment we’ve ever worked in. The real magic is in the people who call iSPI their work-home and the passion and value that they bring to our community.

Can we just say, BRAVO! We are clapping for Innovate Springfield member Rusty Jones, founder of hellowater for being named the Official Water of UIS Athetics! This is what being a part of the collaborative community at Innovate Springfield looks like.

Jones said, "We are committed to providing UIS student-athletes with the products and tools needed to improve their performance. With quality clean ingredients, hellowater leads the way in supporting the health and wellness of students and athletes on campus, which makes this hometown partnership between UIS Athletics and hellowater the perfect fit."

Read more about this fantastic collaboration born out of the Innovate Springfield community on the UIS Prairie Stars website.


Stop what you're doing and join us in congratulating Fall 2021 CO.STARTERS graduate, Kristina Barbee, founder of Ad Astra Wine Bar + Market on their latest features in the Springfield Business Journal and State Journal Register. We are so proud!
Barbee said, “I always wanted to open a wine bar or winery and thought if the stars aligned and I won a million dollars I would do it. Over the past few years, I just decided to find a way to make things happen instead of saying ‘if only.’” Ad Astra is slated to open in early 2022 and will be located at 308 E. Adams in downtown Springfield.
​Made for the witty, rebellious, and open-hearted, Ad Astra Wine Bar and Market is the most thoughtful and inclusive wine experience available in Central Illinois. Ad Astra Wine Bar and Market includes everything you need to craft your own custom wine experience at their table or yours.​

Per Aspera Ad Astra, through hardships to the stars! 


Welcome to #iSPILyfe, where we're learning every day and growing every day and we know it. Join us!

Finance for Startups: Credit Building with Justine Petersen

Date: Wednesday, December 1
Time: 12:00 PM - 1 :00 PM
Location: Zoom

In this presentation, Tristan Brown, Asset Building Counselor with
Justine Petersen will share general lending guidelines.

Information presented will include ...
  • Credit improvement tips including a full breakdown of how credit and FICO Scores actually work;
  • Different types of collections and how to bring your overall score up;
  • Resource sharing and how the Justine Petersen Program can help you build your credit and achieve your business goals; and
  • Details on the ins and outs of the Justine Petersen Program.
A little about the presenter...

Tristan Brown, Asset Building Counselor, came to Justine Petersen as a staff member in September of 2021. Tristan works directly with clients located in the Springfield, IL office of Justine PETERSEN. He comes from a financial background previously working at a local credit union in Springfield. He is looking forward to building central Illinois as a whole. 

Register here.

Ransomware and Cybersecurity Discussion: talk with a ransomware responder and negotiator

Date: Thursday, December 9
Time: 5 PM - 6 PM
Location: Zoom

In this presentation, Kurtis Minder, CEO and co-founder at

GroupSense will walk the audience through how he became involved in ransomware negotiation while educating the audience on what the ransomware epidemic is all about. Explaining lessons learned in the trenches of cyber response, and how businesses can protect themselves and avoid becoming a victim.

Reference articles...

A little about the presenter...

Kurtis Minder is the CEO and co-founder of GroupSense, a leading provider in Digital Risk solutions. Kurtis built a robust cyber reconnaissance operation protecting some of the largest enterprises and government organizations.

Kurtis has been the lead negotiator at GroupSense for ransomware response cases. He has successfully navigated and negotiated some of the largest ransomware, breach, and data extortion cases world-wide.

With over 20 years in the information security industry, Kurtis brings a unique blend of technical, sales and executive acumen.

Register here.

The application is LIVE for our Spring 2022 CO.STARTERS Cohort at Innovate Springfield. The spring cohort will run on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM starting February 16 - April 20, 2022.
CO.STARTERS is a proven effective program that walks a small business starter through the business model canvas and supports them through their customer discovery process. 92% of CO.STARTERS go on to launch their business, and 97% are still in business a year later. 
Throughout the program participants...
  • engage in the customer discovery process;
  • determine the appropriate legal structure for their concept;
  • find their breakeven point, and create financial projections; and
  • perfect their messages and develop plans to grow their concepts over time.
The program ends with a Celebration Night where the starters share their concepts in a traditional startup pitch event. Take a little timeout and watch our most recent celebration night on our YouTube Channel.

We've been running CO.STARTERS at Innovate Springfield since the Spring of 2019. Since then, we've graduated 44 starters from the program, resulting in 2 downtown brick-and-mortar locations, soon to be more!

We have also graduated a handful of UIS students from the program and we're super excited because the program is being offered for credit in the Spring of 2022. UIS students interested in earning an elective credit as a participant in the CO.STARTERS program should contact Rob Weis in the Office of Engaged Learning for details at
ICYMI // We recorded our November Yoga for Starters session so you can catch a break when it's convenient for you. Everyone is invited to join us for Mindfulness Meditation on Tuesday, November 16 at 4:30 PM on Zoom. Don't miss it!
Self-Care for Starters

Prioritizing the health and wellness of those that we serve has always been important to us here at iSPI. All are welcome to join us for gentle Yoga for Starters on the first Tuesday of each month, and Mindfulness Meditation for Starters on the third Tuesday of each month with Innovate Springfield member Amy Denney, founder of Shine Light Therapy.
Mindfulness for Starters
Date: Third Tuesday of each month
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Date: First Tuesday of each month
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
We hope that you'll make Self-Care for Starters part of your
regular work routine with us!
Scope the Full Lineup of Events
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