Fast-track your online business with E-Commerce Ignitor 2.0 |

Fast-track your online business with E-Commerce Ignitor 2.0

Tom Durkin
Special to The Union


Who: Sierra Commons and Rebound Nevada County

What: E-Commerce Business Ignitor Course 2.0

Where: Interactive online via Zoom

When: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday, July 20 through Friday, July 24

Admission: Free (pre-registration required)


The first E-Commerce Business Ignitor Course in May was so successful that Sierra Commons is going to do it again.

“The Sierra Small Business Development Center, Nevada County Economic Resource Council, and Rebound Nevada County are sponsoring this free crash-course on online merchandizing,” announced Robert X Trent, executive director of Sierra Commons, a nonprofit business education and coworking center in Nevada City.

The class begins Monday, July 20, at 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. through Friday, July 24. Students attend this interactive class via Zoom, a free online video-conferencing platform.

The E-Commerce Business Ignitor Course 2.0 is designed to fast-track pandemic-impacted local businesses into getting online and operational by Labor Day, Trent said.

While last May’s E-Commerce Business Ignitor Course 1.0 concentrated on bringing physical stores online and taking existing virtual enterprises to the next level, “we want to broaden our target audience for this one,” said Trent, who founded the Sierra Commons coworking space more than 10 years ago.

He is inviting service providers, artisans and community groups to join the course along with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and people who want to start a new business.

Teachers for the 10-hour course include entrepreneurs Barry Friedman, Erin Thiem, Kory Richardson, Mike Mooers, Adam Trowbridge and Trent, who is the course facilitator. They will put students on a fast track to building and marketing a profitable online business.

Volunteer technical and creative consultants will work one-on-one with students to develop a functional e-commerce store. The consultants are working professionals in website development, photography, graphic design, copywriting, marketing and bookkeeping.

Basic consultations will be free and advanced assistance will be offered at “steeply discounted rates,” according to Trent.

Additionally, professional advisors from the Sierra Small Business Development Center will be available at no charge to students. “They are not only financial advisors, they are strategy, e-commerce, website design and operational experts,” Trent stated.

The E-Commerce Ignitor Courses are a direct response to the pandemic crisis which has crippled local businesses. The course is a condensed version of Sierra Commons’ signature six-week Business Ignitor Course, which has helped launch more than 100 local businesses in the last eleven years.

“Not everything in the standard Ignitor Course is covered, just what is needed to get students selling online in a very short time,” he explained.

“This is going to take some work,” Trent cautioned. “We have a team of professionals who are giving their all. We expect our students to have an equal investment of their time and resources.”

“If students can dedicate at least 15 to 25 hours a week, leverage their own internal resources and take advantage of the help we are offering, it’s possible for even a digital Luddite to be up and running profitably by Labor Day,” Trent asserted.

A bonus advantage of all Business Ignitor Courses is the esprit de corps classmates develop with their fellow entrepreneurs and instructors. “We learn, teach and share with each other,” Trent said. “You’re not alone.”

The E-Commerce Ignitor Courses are part of the emergency action response to the pandemic by the local business community. Rebound Nevada County is an ad hoc, consortium of local agencies, including Sierra Small Business Development Center, Nevada City and Grass Valley Chambers of Commerce, members of Nevada City and Grass Valley City Councils, Sierra Commons, Grass Valley Downtown Association, Nevada City Film Festival, Bear Yuba Land Trust, Miners Foundry Cultural Center, Nevada County Arts Council, Nevada County Economic Resource Council and the Sierra Business Council.

“Sixteen students in the May E-Commerce Business Ignitor Course 1.0 achieved their online goals and were selling as of June 1,” Trent reported. “We will be adding to that number by Labor Day and helping build a more resilient local economy.”

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer based in Nevada City. More info at

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