By Kelsey Allen
Cleveland State’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is hosting its fifth annual StartUp Vikes Weekend from Feb. 23 through 25. The event is open to students, faculty, and the community at large.
Katie Van Dyke, director of the Ohio Small Business Development Center and main facilitator for the event, is anticipating the third sold-out weekend in a row, and business students are not the only ones encouraged to attend.
“The great thing that we’re seeing now is that we have students of all disciplines. We have engineering students, business students, some arts and humanities students.” Van Dyke said. “The more types of backgrounds we get, the better the teams are.”
Van Dyke also shares that the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship learned right away that to be entrepreneurial you have to come from all different backgrounds, and a stronger team needs a more diverse background.
Participants start the weekend by pitching their ideas for startups, and teams form around the best ideas. Once teams are formed, those who are interested have the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops, including Team Dynamics, Business Modeling, and Equity & Operating Agreements.
“We have about eight or nine workshops [this year]. We also have mentors that sit with the groups, it’s a great time for networking and meeting people throughout the community,” Van Dyke said.
The three winning startups at the end of the weekend win a cash infusion and a prize package to help them launch their business, as well as any connections that they made over the course of the event. Since 2014, StartUp Vikes has seen eighteen companies come out of the weekend who are still active today.
The mentors are all experts in their fields, and the team is comprised of entrepreneurs, attorneys, and graphic designers, among others. All of the mentors are volunteers. Van Dyke is thrilled to see more mentor on-board than ever before.
“We have some brand-new mentors this year just because they’ve heard about how fun it is and they want to be a part of it,” Van Dyke said.
Mike Peabody and Michael Taylor, participants from 2017, think StartUp Vikes is a helpful tool, according to the StartUp Vikes website.
“A lot of people have these big ideas about starting their own business,” Mike Peabody, a former mechanical engineering major at Cleveland State said. “But they don’t know what all is involved with getting it up and running. StartUp Vikes helps you with that.”
“As an exercise science major, I didn’t really know much about business going in,” Michael Taylor, an exercise science major from Cuyahoga Community College, said. “But this weekend was a great way for me to get an overview on what all is involved with getting a business started.”