Twenty-eight Grove City College students are participating in the 2018 VentureLab, an early-stage business and social enterprise idea lab sponsored by The Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation that provides seed grants, coaching, mentorship and guidance to student entrepreneurs.
Nine student-conceived start-up ideas will benefit from the VentureLab program. They made the cut after students successfully persuaded an Application Review Panel that their business proposals had potential and they had the “right stuff” to be successful entrepreneurs.
”This year’s cohort of teams is incredibly strong as some of the teams have already won various competitions for their ideas,” Yvonne J. English ’97, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation and the lead coach for the teams, said. “I look forward to seeing how far the teams can go with the help of the VentureLab program. The supporters within the VentureLab network are very excited to be involved in various ways from mentoring to giving educational seminars to making financial contributions to help fund team grants.”
These nine teams were selected for the 2018 VentureLab cohort:
- Cajόns – Andrew Graber ’20, an Entrepreneurship major from Atglen, Pa., wants to sell handmade wooden drums called cajόns, which are designed and crafted by musicians and artists in Nashville, Tenn.
- Chute! – Stephen Weaver ’19, an Entrepreneurship major from Milwaukee, Wisc., Levi Roberts ’19, an Entrepreneurship major from Clarks Mills, Pa., and Boyce Cubarney ’19, an Entrepreneurship major from Zelienople, Pa., propose a social business venture directly helping veterans by transforming military surplus into outdoor products.
- Graphrite – Samuel Kenney ’18, a Computer Science major from Pottstown, Pa.; Madeline Williams ’18, an Entrepreneurship major from Kailua, Hawaii; Austin Zick ’18, an English major from San Diego, Ca., and Keith Meikrantz ’18, a Mechanical Engineering major from Waxhaw, N.C., are working on a durable and unique tool for engineering and math students that aids in the drawing of clean and accurate sketches and graphs on homework and notes.
- Humanitree – Jared Grace ’18, a Computer Information Systems major from Ocala, Fla., Christian Talbot ’18, a Computer Information Systems major from Collegeville, Pa., Mona Ni ’18, an Electrical Engineering major from Berwick, Pa., Noah Newell ’18, a Computer Science major from Saratoga, N.Y., and Chrystian Rajchel ’18, a Computer Science major from Harmony, Pa., are working on a social network for social betterment that makes it easy for nonprofits to publicize community projects so that people can find, share, volunteer, and support.
- Mended Sock Co. – Sophia Stangebye ’20, an Entrepreneurship major from Roswell, N.M., Laura Williams ’20, an Exercise Science major from Kailua, Hawaii, Alex Bailey ’20, an Entrepreneurship major from Sinclairville, N.Y., Caroline Parker ’20, an Entrepreneurship major from Durango, Colo., and Alex Halton ’20, an Entrepreneurship major from Colorado Springs, Colo., have created a socially-minded e-commerce business that sells cute and cozy socks online, of which a portion of the profits will support A21, an anti-human trafficking organization.
- PeeWee Packs – Hannah Vaccaro ’18, an Entrepreneurship major from Merrimack, N.H., is working on a potty training incentive that prompts toddlers to use the toilet through color-changing, picture-revealing cards.
- Té Amo Organic Tea – Edgar Mark Sotomayor ’20, an Entrepreneurship major from Butler, Pa., and Ryan Budnik ’19, a Business Management major from Grove City, Pa., are selling “some pretty bomb organic tea” to raise funds to plant trees in Haiti.
- Trajectory – Daniel Toney ’18, a Computer Science major from Elkins, W.Va., Jeremy Bost ’18, a Computer Science major from Pfafftown, N.C.; Andrew Vogel ’18, a Computer Information Systems major from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Sam Casteel ’18, a Computer Science major from Springfield, Va. are working on an iOS app to facilitate personal growth by connecting mentors to mentees in organizations like churches and college groups.
- VoterIQ – Tyler Gustafson ’20, a Political Science major from Shippensburg, Pa., Ethan Fry ’19, an Economics major from Mansfield, Pa., and Benjamin Tobias ’19, an Entrepreneurship major from Davisburg, Mich., are developing an app to inform voters with up-to-date, non-partisan information about politicians’ voting records.
The mission of VentureLab is to help the Grove City College campus community explore and develop new ventures based on their own original concepts. It serves as a valuable starting point for innovation and enables aspiring entrepreneurs to gauge the feasibility of their ideas. VentureLab connects teams to resources within Grove City College, the community at large and industry-specific experts, some of them alumni, who serve as mentors. Teams are also eligible to apply for seed grant funding support to prove the viability of innovative ideas or to assist in taking an idea to the next level after the idea has been vetted.
In addition, the Venture U program, created to support the VentureLab cohort, is open to all students on campus, regardless of major. Venture U is a seminar series that focuses on the nuts and bolts of starting a business. This year’s speakers include Wendy Mascio ’88 (CompleteIt Consultants), Evan Addams ’10, Brian Slawin (Ben Franklin Technology PArtners), Jon D’Silva (MMI Intellectual Property) and Brent Moon ’06 (Foresight Law).
The Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation at Grove City College seeks to educate and inspire principled, high-impact entrepreneurs whose innovations improve people’s lives and solve important problems. The College’s Entrepreneurship program recently received national recognition by winning the 2018 Model Emerging Program Award from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.