Entrepreneur Express opens eyes and minds to local businesses

Born from Torchbearers’ 2017 Activate Akron conversations within community impact, the Entrepreneurship Express rolled out on April 27th. 30 Torchbearers loaded onto the downtown trolley for a tour highlighting entrepreneurship in Akron. The tour was hosted by Heather Roszczyk, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Advocate for the City of Akron Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

The first stop of the Entrepreneurship Express was the Bounce Innovation Hub, where attendees met with Audrey Wallace from Komae and Parag Jadgale from Revenue Conduit. The two shared how the Bounce Innovation Hub helped them scale up their operations and discussed how Akron is the perfect size for a start-up business. Torchbearers got to see firsthand how a collaborative space, like Bounce, creates opportunities for new businesses to forge partnerships with other community businesses.

Next up was the Akron Urban League. Fellow Torchbearer and Senior Director of Funder Relations at the Urban League, Edwin Hubbard, served as the guide. Edwin explained how the Urban League gives local organizations a space for hosting events and also keeps a meal pantry for those in need. In addition, the facility offers cultural competency training programs. While there, Associate Director Kimberly Irvin Lee gave the group a behind-the-scenes look at one of the latest innovations at the Urban League: the new STEAM education room where youth can experience the power of 3-D modeling and other advanced technologies.

Summit Artspace served as the last stop. There, Executive Director Kamelia Fisher discussed programs that help artists move their projects into profitable spaces. One such example was that of Totally Tangled Creations, a boutique in Summit Artspace run by April Couch. April spoke of the importance of making art accessible for an everyday buyer to use. She does this by printing her artwork on merchandise such as t-shirts, notepads, and other affordably priced items, allowing her to build sustainable sales and giving her the flexibility to work on larger passion projects.

Following the tour, the group congregated at Jilly’s Music Room to debrief while enjoying food and live music. The Entrepreneurship Express offered a small taste of the incredible resources the city has to offer budding new businesses.