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CSU Venture Accelerator Program welcomes 12 new student ventures

Colorado State University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship hosted its Venture Acceleration Celebration Thursday in Rockwell Hall West, introducing 12 new student ventures entering the fall Venture Accelerator Program.

The event served as the kick-off party for the 16-week program. During the fall semester, the student ventures will meet each Thursday for workshops covering topics like marketing, product development and finances. They will also also have the opportunity to develop important contacts in the business world.

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Businesses included QuadshoX, which is working to revolutionize manual wheelchair suspension; Smoothie Cubes, a health food company that makes nutrient-packed cubes as additions to smoothies or any meal; and BAUS Tech, which hopes to provide drone services for existing markets.

“I’m really excited by the diversity of these teams,” said outgoing Institute for Entrepreneurship Director Charisse Bowen. “They all seem willing to work hard and make the most of this opportunity.”

For MBA student Aaron Sebesta of Growing Capital, a venture aimed to provide affordable financing for rural farms in Central America, the Venture Accelerator Program offers a “wealth of opportunity.”

“(It’s the) impetus to continue to move forward as a company,” Sebesta said.

Sam Heitzer, a business administration senior, co-founded Gamification Consultants, which applies gaming principles to the workplace as motivational and organizational tools.

“This is such a great program to be working with,” Heitzer said.

On August 28, 2014 members of the Institute for Entrepreneurship gathered in Rockwell West to congratulate the 12 new businesses accepted into the Venture Capital Program.
On Aug. 28, 2014 members of the Institute for Entrepreneurship gathered in Rockwell Hall West to congratulate the 12 new businesses accepted into the Venture Accelerator Program.

Bowen believes the incoming student ventures are only getting better.

“It really does seem like these new companies are getting more and more sophisticated,” Bowen said. “I think they’re hearing the success stories and learning from them.”

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One such success story is CSU Venture Accelerator Program alumnus James Schrack, whose company, Fort Collins Specialty Foods, found success selling Stuff’n Mallows, chocolate chip-infused marshmallows. According to a press release, their product is now available in nearly 100 stores across 19 states.

“It’s been great talking with some of the new companies and getting to share our experiences with them,” Schrack said.

Change Composite founder Nathan Saam, a CSU alumnus who is developing an environmentally- friendly bicycle helmet, is ready to hit the ground running in the Venture Accelerator Program.

“It’s like we’ve been thrown into the deep end,” Saam said. “And we’re ready to rock.”

Collegian Reporter Nicholas LeVack can be reached at news@collegian.com and on Twitter @NicholasLeVack.

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