Mon 4/7 @ Noon
By Josh Usmani
It’s no secret that we love our local businesses. Our city’s young, energetic entrepreneurs are the backbone of our local and regional economy. This Monday, The Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur Expo will feature a full day of information, advising and networking opportunities. The event will take place in the atrium of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
This year’s event features 99 entrepreneurial companies, 82 service providers and support organizations, 33 providers of capital and nearly 900 attendees already registered.
“Every year, we’re always excited to see the diverse, young companies that participate—from app developers to environmentally conscious cleantech firms to companies creating life-saving technologies,” says Samantha Fryberger of JumpStart (and organizer of the Northeast Ohio Entrepreneur Expo). “This year, we’re even more pleased to see so many experts step up to be Speed Advisors. Their guidance and willingness to give back is a testament to the generosity and vision of the Northeast Ohio community.”
From Noon until 3pm, local businesses will be showcasing their goods and services at tables throughout the atrium. At 1pm, investors, service providers and members of the media will participate in Speed Advising Sessions for young entrepreneurs. The advisors are pre-matched with entrepreneurs, and will offer advice and feedback during fast-paced “office hours.”
“I think the Speed Advising portion of this year’s Expo is the perfect chance for me to connect and support a big pool of startup companies all at once,” explains Jose Vasquez, CEO of Quez Media Marketing. “When you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, sometimes one piece of well-timed advice is all it takes to find a new breakthrough. Hopefully, I can offer that level of advice.”
Following the Speed Advising Sessions, organizers will announce the winner of the Charter One Foundation Student Business Idea Competition. At 3:30pm, a moderated Investor Panel will discuss “Attracting Capital Between the Coast.”
“Events like the Expo help start important conversations,” adds Tom Lix, Founder/CEO of Cleveland Whiskey. “Conversations with media, potential investors, even potential partners—they all begin face-to-face in this environment and that’s critical. As a participant, I get great feedback and always walk away with new ideas, and every year I meet new people and begin to form new relationships that help me grow my business.
“When I moved here from Boston about 8 years ago, my friends would call, wondering why I was in Cleveland,” continues Lix. “They were absolutely incredulous when I started telling them I was thinking seriously about staying. Now, they call and more often than not ask about business opportunities in the region. We are a growing and increasingly recognized community of entrepreneurs, and the word is getting out there. The Expo is just one of many the things that’s helping us along the way.”
The event will conclude with a large-scale Networking Happy Hour reception featuring Burning River Coffee Club, Startup Weekend, SunDown RunDown, TechPint and other peer-networking opportunities in the area.
Organizers have also scheduled a number of additional events. On Wed 4/9 8:30-4:30, Cleveland State University’s Student Center Ballroom will host the 2014 Female Entrepreneur Summit – featuring panel discussions, breakout sessions and luncheon keynote speaker (and world-renowned swimmer) Diana Nyad.
This weekend, (Fri 4/11-Sun 4/13) organizers host the Cleveland Startup Weekend. This weekend-long competition challenges young entrepreneurs to think big and quickly. Participants will compete while networking. The various activities are aimed at giving participants a taste of entrepreneurship.
Starting on Fri 4/11, NEOSA Tech Week will feature over a dozen events – including a virtual job fair, pitch night, networking events, NASA Space Apps Challenge and NEOSA Best of Tech Awards. The event was started in 2011, and continues to connect entrepreneurs, educators, students and executives.
All events are FREE and open to the public, but registration is required.
Josh Usmani is a 27 year old local artist, curator and writer. Since 2008, his work has been featured in over 50 local and regional exhibitions.