Colorado State students expand businesses in The CSU Hatchery

Nicholas LeVack

Consumers can one day feel the grass between their toes wherever they go or take a scenic Fort Collins tour by pedicab thanks to the Colorado State University Hatchery’s new student businesses.

Turf Toes, a venture designing a synthetic grass-lined sandal, is located in The Hatchery with four other businesses. The Hatchery is an office space rented out by CSU and provided to business owners who completed the CSU Venture Accelerator Program.

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Along with Turf Toes, The Hatchery hosts Grey Fall, which provides outdoor education and consults paramedics, law enforcement and firefighters on tactics in emergency situations; Tadpole Pedicabs, which offers Fort Collins tours in a front-loaded pedicab or “bike taxi” — Living Ink, which creates time-lapse greeting cards using algae; and D-Wired, which is producing intuitive wireless earbuds.

In June, The Hatchery opened its doors to this latest cohort of five student businesses, which have since grown their ventures utilizing The Hatchery’s resources.

“Basically, they give it to … the companies they think will perform the best with using this office,” said senior business major and Tadpole Pedicabs co-founder Andrew Victora.

For these start-ups, the office space itself has been instrumental to the growth of their businesses.

“Having a space where you can lay your grass out and talk about stuff one-on-one … I mean, it’s been a huge help,” said senior communications major and Turf Toes co-founder Braxton Norwood.

Tanner Eley, a senior majoring in bussiness, takes a brief break from his work with Turf Toes at The Hatchery.
Tanner Eley, a senior majoring in business, takes a brief break from his work with Turf Toes at The Hatchery. (Photo credit: Jillian Keller)

“[The Hatchery] really adds to the credibility of my business,” said senior natural resources, recreation and tourism major Joseph Kuepper. “It gives me [a space] to do meetings, interviews and … all the office work that I do actually need to conduct.”

They also benefit from sharing the office space with other businesses.

“It helps having different companies that are going through the same problems,” Kuepper said. “[Another business owner] might have a problem that I dealt with last week, and so I can help him resolve that a lot quicker.”

In addition to an office space, these businesses benefit from advisers with field experience.

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“If you need anything, they’re there to help you out,” Kuepper said. “They can identify … difficulties you might be experiencing and the solutions for them.”

Following in the footsteps of Hatchery graduates like James Schrack, who found success selling chocolate chip-stuffed marshmallows called Stuff’n Mallows, the current businesses are optimistic about what they can learn during their stay in The Hatchery.

“I’ll learn whatever I can and apply it to my business,” Kuepper said.  “The Hatchery is really providing me with the resources to help my business succeed.”