Note to Reporters: A video featuring clients of CSU’s Hatchery is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcT6XIjhKbU. For additional video assets, contact Mike Hooker at 970-491-1545 or email@example.com
Five new tenants have moved into the Colorado State University Hatchery at Rocky Mountain Innosphere, Northern Colorado’s premier business incubator.
The new companies are all graduates of the Venture Accelerator Immersion Lab in the CSU College of Business, a 16-week course in the Institute of Entrepreneurship that pairs student entrepreneurs with mentors and business advisors. The next cohort of a dozen companies enters the program this Fall semester.
“The mission of the Accelerator program is to educate students and to be an integral part of the Northern Colorado entrepreneurship ecosystem by providing real-life experiences, connection to resources, and funding opportunities with the ultimate goal of creating self-sustaining ventures,” explained Charisse Bowen, director of the Institute. “The Hatchery extends the support we can provide to some of the most promising businesses.”
Colorado State was also just named one of the 50 Most Entrepreneurial Universities in the country by Forbes magazine.
The new Hatchery companies, which moved into the large office suite on June 1, are deYrd (pronounced D-Wired), a producer of easy-to-use wireless ear buds; Greyfall Training, dedicated to providing survival training to individuals as well as consulting to law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and federal agencies; TurfToes, which makes flip-flops that recreate the sensation of walking barefoot through grass; Tadpole Pedicabs; and Living Ink Technologies.
Living Ink is housed in the Research Innovation Center on CSU’s Foothills Campus, to have access to wet lab facilities, but will have access to all support and services provided by RMI to develop their greeting cards printed with blooming algae in a rainbow of colors.
deYrd, Living Ink, and TurfToes participated in the inaugural CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge Collegiate Track in May, also sponsored by the Institute for Entrepreneurship.
Greyfall Training held its first product launch on Aug. 2-3, a land navigation course that trains participants how to use a compass, map and GPS devices. The class will be offered again Aug. 16-17 and Sept. 6-7 in Lory State Park.
“The Accelerator program really helped me with the ins and outs of how to start and run a business,” said Joe Kuper, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who founded the company with his brother, a former Marine. “We were operating as consultants, but talking to the subject matter experts at CSU helped us build a better business model, do market research and focus more on the outdoor education part of the business.”
The student entrepreneurs have the opportunity to occupy the fully furnished space in The Hatchery for 12 months.
The Hatchery opened in 2013, and the first three companies “graduated” on May 8, 2014. CamKeeper LLC, The Wild Gym Company, and Stuff N’Mallows all used their year in The Hatchery to take their businesses to the next level.
“Innosphere is very excited to be partners with the CSU College of Business on the Hatchery program. Over the past year, Innosphere has developed a customized process for supporting the CSU startup companies that helps identify and drive business outcomes by each company on a quarterly basis. We see supporting the Hatchery as a long-term program to support student startups in Fort Collins,” said Mike Freeman, CEO of Innosphere.
Stuff N’Mallows made their debut on the national stage this summer at the Chicago Sweets and Snack Expo, the largest confectionery trade show in the world, where the chocolate chip-stuffed marshmallows were one of five nominees for Most Innovative Product.
“It was our first trade show where we exhibited,” co-founder James Schrack said. “It was cool to see Stuff N’Mallows there beside products from Hershey’s and Kit Kat Unwrapped. And we gained really good attention from the industry, too.”
Stuff N’Mallows are now available in nearly 100 stores in 19 states, including New York, Minnesota and Illinois as well as Colorado. Not bad for an idea that started as “an easy A in entrepreneurship class,” according to Schrack.
The company has moved out of the Hatchery but not out of the Innosphere; Schrack and partners Paul Jenkins and Tyler Krenzelok now have their own space as Innosphere clients.
Schrack said the Hatchery experience “gave us the kick in the butt to be a real company. It was like we got to double dip with the expertise from CSU and the resources of the Innosphere. I’m excited to have the new companies here, and I look forward to helping them in any way we can.
“That’s what I love about the Innosphere and The Hatchery,” he added. “That community feel of being with other startups working through the same issues.”
The Hatchery is funded by private donations, and sponsored by the CSU College of Business.
For more information, go to the Institute’s page on the College of Business website, biz.colostate.edu.