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July 3, 2014

Entrepreneurs share ideas at Startup Vikes

July 3, 2014

By Lalita Smith

Start Up Vikes was held Friday, June 20 though Sunday, June 22 in Fenn Tower.

The event was open to all Cleveland State University students and alumni as well as community members.

Start Up Vikes was designed as a way for the innovations and inventions of developers, creators and “startup enthusiasts” to share ideas, attend informative workshops, build inventions and practice pitching their designs and ideas.

The event was hosted by the Monte Ahuja College of Business and was coordinated in part by Shannon Lyons, chief business development officer and partner of LaunchHouse.

LaunchHouse is a company that assists, invests in and transforms the ideas of innovative startup companies. According to the company’s website, their goal is to “become the leading business development firm for entrepreneurs in the Midwest.”

Over the weekend, around 45 people — students and community members — participated in the event, along with the 25 mentors and five judges.

According to Lyons, the event was created as a way to prepare for the introduction of the Entrepreneurship minor that will begin being offered at Cleveland State in the fall as well as serve as a launch for a new initiative on campus called “Start Up Support at Cleveland State.”

“It’s [the entrepreneurship minor] not just coursework. It’s really intense and exciting classes; no student has ever experienced something like this, it’s really going to be exciting and very innovative,” Lyons said.

The premise of the weekend was participants would pitch their ideas, form teams, build a prototype and validate the concept of the prototype, and then pitch their idea and prototype to a panel of judges who then chose three winners, said Lyons.

Participants also took part in 54 hours devoted to educating teams about starting a company.

“We wanted to see more student run companies and one of the good ways to do that is a startup weekend, [however] we changed the design quite a bit because this is the first time it’s happened on campus,” said Lyons.

This year’s first place winner was MemCare, second place was PICME, and the third place winner was Getting in the mood.

The winners received various cash prizes as well as tickets to the TedX convention.

Although Lyons served as the chief facilitator and organizer of the event — she adds that it was truly a collaborative effort between, she, LaunchHouse, and Cleveland State faculty and administration.

Lyons adds that they are already gearing up for next year’s event.

“This is the beginning of something really interesting at Cleveland State — supporting entrepreneurs and supporting startups,” said Lyons.

“The university is really thinking ahead and being very forward thinking and I think students are just going to love it.”