PORTSMOUTH — Shawnee State University’s Kricker Innovation Hub (KIH) hosted their inaugural Ignite Portsmouth: Entrepreneurial Journey Boot Camp and Pitch Competition at the end of last month. Eighteen teams of potential entrepreneurs took part in the six-week boot camp to receive support towards implementing their business ideas.
“Offering programming like this is really exciting, and the next step in the development of the Kricker Innovation Hub,” David Kilroy, SSU Director of the KIH said. “The Hub is all about fostering the growth of startups and small businesses in our area. What better way to do that than to highlight folks with ideas for new businesses and products, and show that these ideas can become reality.”
Through multiple sessions the groups learned how to utilize the business model canvas, advanced their skills in marketing their products and services, and received assistance crafting a business pitch. The boot camp wrapped up with its Business Pitch Competition in front of a panel of judges on Jun. 24.
Regional and local sponsors – Tri State Angel Investment Group, Scioto County Commissioners, Scioto County Economic Development, Glockner Auto Mall, Rutman-Burnside Realty, Neal Hatcher Real Estate, OSU South Centers Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, and WesBanco – supported the event and provided cash prizes for the top five winners of the business pitch competition.
In 5th place was Amanda Klaiber for her idea of an artisan lounge called The Landing. Mark Kennedy took 4th place for his idea of a financial education app called The Social Ladder. Tina Chabot took 3rd place for her idea of expanding the Yoga Deck LLC and its offerings of yoga, non-alcoholic beer, artisan teas, and more. Placing in 2nd was KJ Whitaker with his idea of KJ’s Custom Powder Koating. Both Klaiber and Kennedy received $500 for their ideas while Chabot received $1,000 and Whitaker received $1,500 towards their pitches. Claiming first place and the grand prize of $5,000 was Kristy Cartee for her ideas of establishing Counting Star’s Book Lounge – a physical retail space that serves beverages, sells books, and hosts social activities for the community.
“When I first signed up for Ignite Portsmouth, I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” said Cartee. “But now, I am so glad I did. I’m very thankful for everyone who made it possible. The people I’ve met along the way have been very encouraging and I’ve gained so much knowledge. Counting Stars Book Lounge has been a dream of mine for several years and Ignite taught me the steps to turn that dream into a reality. Winning this means someone believes in my idea and believes in me.”
Cartee plans to use the grand prize money to help with a down payment on a location for her book lounge. She will also have the privilege of pitching her idea in front of the presenting sponsor – the Tri-State Angel Investment Group.
“I’m equally excited and nervous to take the next step and present my idea to the Tri-State Angels,” she said. “To have them back me would be the ultimate dream come true.”
The KIH plans to make Ignite Portsmouth an annual event, hoping to spark inspiration and provide entrepreneurial planning in the area.
“It was great to see so many good ideas,” said Derrick Parker, Program Coordinator at the KIH. “Honestly, I wish we could have given prizes to all the participants. But each and every one said they were glad to go through the program. Going forward, they will still be able to connect with the Hub and get further support for their ideas.”
The KIH will be hosting another entrepreneurship boot camp later this summer, this time geared towards those in drug rehabilitation and recovery communities.
The Kricker Innovation Hub is a regional leader in entrepreneurship and innovation whose mission is to help businesses and entrepreneurs grow and bring their ideas to tomorrow’s market. To learn more about the services offered by the Kricker Innovation Hub, visit ssuinnovation.com.