7:30 a.m. may come early, but that doesn’t keep the Wakeup Startup crowds from forming at Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office. Wakeup Startup (WUSU) is an entrepreneur-driven movement designed to connect those committed to creating, building, and growing companies and innovations. Occurring on the second Friday of each month, it’s also rapidly becoming the place to see and be seen in the entrepreneurial world.
What started as an event has quickly evolved into a full-fledged movement as evidenced by the packed house month after month. With standing room only, the regulars arrive early for the best seats and their pick of highly-acclaimed Buckeye Donuts (which have also become an event staple). Founders and Innovators take center stage to pitch their ideas to an eager audience and panel of industry experts. Candid feedback, connections, and additional creative solutions are the usual takeaways from this monthly forum.
The groundswell of entrepreneurial activity landed the movement on some high profile radars. After attending several Wakeup Startups, Craig Marshall, an Office Managing Partner at Ernst & Young LLP, saw an opportunity to support this effort. Ernst & Young LLP has long been a champion of the entrepreneur; celebrating the efforts of self-starters with programs and awards like the Entrepreneur of the Year program and the EDGE Award which celebrates entrepreneurs delivering, growing and executing.
“Ernst & Young LLP has long been a champion of the entrepreneur; celebrating the efforts of self-starters with programs and awards like the Entrepreneur of the Year program and the EDGE Award— which celebrates entrepreneurs delivering, growing and executing.” Marshall said. “We saw an opportunity to help perpetuate the Wakeup Startup movement by becoming one of the first sponsors. We fully support the Wakeup Startup mission and want to help engage as many entrepreneurs as possible in the Wakeup Startup experience, it’s a must attend event for all innovators and big thinkers in the area.”
The pairing of organizations is seen as a natural one by one of the Wakeup Startup founders, Dan Rockwell.
“It makes perfect sense. There was an immediate need for an open community pitch forum where founders could share their ideas and connect with the region’s movers and shakers. We positioned it at Ohio State’s TCO since that was emerging as a hub for innovators and big ideas,” said Rockwell.
“Ernst & Young LLP started participating early-on and saw the feedback and results these founders were getting and wanted to see more of that in our community. They’ve always been big supporters of entrepreneurs and startups so the alignment happened very organically. With their help we hope to grow this and offer more,” Rockwell added.
Along with aiding the Wakeup Startup movement, Ernst & Young LLP has long-term plans to remain involved with the entrepreneurs and innovators that participate in Wakeup Startup through a mentorship role. Earlier this year TCO launched a New Ventures Center focused solely on supporting startups and looping Ernst & Young LLP onto the scene as mentors is a value-add for entrepreneurs engaged with New Ventures.
“We’re thrilled to include Ernst and Young into our mentor network. Their involvement with entrepreneurs and efforts to move startups forward makes them fantastic collaborators and a great resource for our many entrepreneurs,” said Chris Hirsch, business strategist for the New Ventures Center at TCO. “When you have Ernst & Young LLP and Ohio State at the table, great things are going to happen. Columbus’ startup scene has never had this much momentum; it’s an exciting time to make something happen.”
To join the Wakeup Startup movement check out wakeupstartup.com or contact TCO’s New Ventures Team at hirsch.48@.osu.edu