WINCHESTER — When it comes to starting a new business, Montressa Washington said there’s a mix of people who are eager to do so and others who are worried about starting something new amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington, an assistant professor of management at Shenandoah University and the director of the Shenandoah University Institute for Entrepreneurship, encourages anyone with a business idea to explore the possibility at several upcoming events she is hosting at SU.

“Get Started” entrepreneurship workshops, which will be held virtually and cost $25 to attend, are scheduled for 6-9 p.m. April 28, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. May 15 and 1-4 p.m. May 20. About 20 spots are available per workshop.

The workshops will provide tools, relationships and insights needed to turn business ideas into a reality.

Washington said an entrepreneur isn’t just someone who starts a technology company in San Francisco. It could be someone involved in baking or mechanical work or someone who works in the gig economy.

She also plans to launch a low-cost entrepreneur “boot camp” this summer, with in-person and virtual events. By the end of the program, participants will be prepared to run their own business.

The boot camp is being made possible through a $50,000 grant from the Truist Foundation. The program is open to people from the Winchester area, with 51% of slots reserved for aspiring entrepreneurs from low- and moderate-income backgrounds.

There is a $99 fee to participate. Those who complete the boot camp will receive an Entrepreneurship and Small Business Certificate.

Washington said the upcoming programs are open to anyone and that people shouldn’t feel intimidated because they’re being held through a university.

“I want people to feel that they are welcome, that if they they are interested they should apply,” Washington said. “What you need is a desire and passion and a commitment to want to learn more about entrepreneurship, to want to develop a business, and we will support you and give you the skills and tools that you need for success.”

The boot camp also will include a business pitch contest similar to the popular “Shark Tank” TV show. Participants will compete for a cash prize for the best business ideas.

Washington said applications for the boot camp should become available in early May.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

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