Events and Mentorship

Find information about upcoming events at Students can also search for mentors with diverse areas of expertise and connect through the platform.

2018 Purpose Pitch Competition

The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center held the Second Purpose Pitch Competition, a  new venture competition on May 3, 2018. This competition sets itself apart from others because we are promoting entrepreneurs to build what they believe with a purpose-driven business idea. We believe the purpose is innate wishing any company and has to be accessed to reach its full potential. Current DePaul University undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni, were eligible to compete. After a competitive process, 4 startups were accepted to do a 5-minute pitch their business and purpose. Startups focused their presentations not only on the business model but the overarching purpose and problem they are solving in society. A total of $25,000 in prize money was awarded to contestants.

This year’s purpose pitch winner was Ann Foley, Founder of 10th Avenue Tea. The first runner-up was Adero Knott, Founder of AK Prosthetics, followed by Estaban Perez, Founder of Universala Esports. The finalists were rounded out by Savy Leiser, Founder of the Furever Home Friends.

Pictures by Kathy Hillegonds/ DePaul University:

Special thank you to all of the sponsors that made the Purpose Pitch possible: Cedar Hill and Sheikh Faisal Center for Entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

LAUNCH Artist in Residence

LAUNCH Invitational Residency is a professional service /professional development program for students in the Chicagoland area. This is the first year DePaul has participated, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored three students to attend the program. The company introduces students to the tools, resources, and networks that will help them achieve their goals. Faculty from the Art Department (LAS) and CDM each nominated students; three Art students are going forward. 
Facilitated by a team of Artist Leaders and Guest Speakers, LAUNCH’s pedagogical model focuses on practical skill-building workshops, creative activities, collaborative brainstorming sessions, and one-on-one consultations. At this critical point in their careers, the  it allows artists a chance to access tactical advice, devote time for introspection about the future, and engage with established, rising, and innovative thinkers in the field.

Congratulations to the student who were chosen- Jireh Drake, Maya Sato, and Charlotte Mukahirn.

DePaul and 2112

The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University is the first university partner at 2112, the Chicago incubator focused on the development of business and entrepreneurs in music, film/video, and creative technology. Check out the press coverage.

Starting autumn quarter 2017, all DePaul students will have access to our office space and programming at 2112. Check out the workshops and events that will be available and watch for an email at the beginning of autumn quarter with details on how to reserve space and tickets.

Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Taylor Jennings

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, Taylor Jennings, a DePaul Junior double-majoring in Business/Hospitality Leadership and Marketing, reflects on her time as an intern at Chicago Foodseum, the first nonprofit food museum.

While I have had a lot of opportunities for learning during my internship at Chicago Foodseum, the greatest thing I learned was how to adapt when things do not go quite as planned. I am one of those people that wants to have everything planned to a T, and I sometimes find it difficult to respond to sudden changes. Interning with Foodseum has taught me to not only be able to adapt to sudden changes but to embrace them. For example, there are a lot of uncertainties and variables that go into opening a museum exhibit. We have been waiting for nearly a month on the lease for our space and in response, our timelines and schedules have changed dramatically since I began. Working with Kyle and his design head, Tomas, has taught me that sudden change and adaptation, more often than not, leads to a better outcome, and that sudden changes are no cause for panic. I also learned how to better take authority in situations that I am unfamiliar with. Being an exhibit coordinator means reaching out to a lot of people with impressive titles and backgrounds, but doing so is no cause for alarm and is best handled when you are well prepared and confident in your approach.

As an entrepreneur, my internship has taught me a lot of character attributes that an entrepreneur should possess that I did not have before. I have become more professional, more authoritative, more direct and knowledgeable in my engagements, and mostly, more confident in myself. Being more confident in reacting to changes and in dealing with superiors (whom I am essentially courting for donations) was something that I had no familiarity with. Now I know that just because I am unfamiliar does not mean that I am not capable. I’ve also learned that no idea is too extreme. Opening a food museum is a lofty goal that some people may initially be confused by, but Kyle has taught me that confidence in your dream will get you to the end. When you believe in yourself people will begin to catch on.

Looking back at this experience, I will most certainly remember my growth and development as a person. I was given a lot of responsibility and was initially sort of overwhelmed, but it did not take long for me to become comfortable in my position. If it were not for Kyle giving me such a great position as exhibit manager, I would not have developed as I have mentioned above. This experience is one I will never forget for many reasons, but most certainly because of the trust that was put in me from the beginning that allowed me to flourish so much.

Although the internship program is officially over, I will be staying with Foodseum for a little while longer. Our first, exhibit, “The Hot Dog and Encased Meats of the World”, opens in mid-September and I want to follow it through to the end.

– Taylor Jennings

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.

Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Omar Ortiz

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, Omar Ortiz, a sophomore double-majoring in Marketing and Finance, reflects on his internship experience at Levi Baer Consulting, LLC, a consulting company offering engaging workshops and games that allow individuals, teams, and entire organizations be more effective.

This summer, I had the privilege of working alongside Levi Baer and his consulting company Levi Baer Consulting, LLC. Although I had originally decided to work with Bold Bee Consulting, a similar consulting company, I later discovered that this company was no longer running. Instead, Levi, one of the two founders of Bold Bee Consulting, decided to form a consulting company of his own with many similar ideas and values that made Bold Bee Consulting my number one choice.

I was immediately given the title of Project Coordinator. Levi and I got along very well from the start. We met weekly to assign projects and set deadlines for those projects. I had many projects this summer ranging from reaching out to potential clients, to making business decisions, and even editing a video. In the end, I believe I got a wonderful taste of what it takes to run a startup business. Levi was starting his business from scratch, and it was great to work alongside him and help in any way that I could. 

The most unexpected element of this internship was how able I was to carry on many tasks outside of my comfort zone. I reluctantly chose to take on the task of reaching out to prospective clients via telephone and email. Doing this via email was pretty easy and something that I’m used to, but doing it via telephone is completely different. Nonetheless, I was able to accept the challenge and go through with it in a professional manner. More than anything, it made me more confident to do similar tasks in the future. 

As an entrepreneur, this internship showed me all of the hard work that is needed to start a business. The first month and a half of my internship was spent doing all of the little tasks that are needed before even beginning to accept clients. I was in charge of creating company documents that would be presented to clients, I helped revise the company website, and I generated content for the company blog. All of these tasks were necessary before we actually began “working” and generating any income. I’ll definitely remember the co-working spaces that I visited. Before this internship, I wasn’t aware that spaces existed where entrepreneurial and creative-minded individuals gathered and worked, while contributing to a community of like-minded people. These co-working spaces are a great haven to go and be productive throughout your day. If it weren’t for the price tag attached to the privilege of being a member at one of the spaces, I would definitely find myself there almost every day.

As far as advice, I would highly encourage any entrepreneurial-minded students to apply to this internship. It provides a great learning experience and really shows you what it takes to run a business. On top of that, you meet very driven and motivated people. All in all, it’s a wonderful experience that is worth taking advantage of.  

– Omar Ortiz

Levi Baer and Omar Ortiz

Levi Baer and Omar Ortiz

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.

Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Lena Newkold

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, junior Lena Newkold, a Management/Entrepreneurship major with a minor in Studio Art, reflects on her time at Meliora K, a sustainable cleaning products company.

Meliora K is a sustainable cleaning products company that was founded in 2013. The company is currently run by the founder, Kate, and the CEO Mike (also husband and co-owner). The company not only sells and distributes products via local stores in the Chicago area, but also has its production facility in the owners’ home. The message to the customers is transparency in everything that Meliora K does and makes. The company shares its product recipes with its customers and even uploaded a video demo on how the products can be made at home. To show transparency in its actions, Meliora K started to report on and track garbage from the manufacturing process and as of May 2015 the company is a certified B-Corporation, reinforcing its commitment to corporate social responsibility.

My daily duties during the Startup Internship Program included quantifying and analyzing the competition’s social media efforts and then formulating recommendations for Meliora K’s social media. In order to understand the kind of information that the competitors were posting about, I categorized all of their Facebook and Twitter posts into seven categories. This was quite tedious due to the high content volume; nonetheless, it was necessary in order to be able to come to meaningful conclusions later down the road. The last two weeks I spent picking out useful information from the large data table that I created and putting together a PowerPoint presentation.

My greatest learning experience was having the opportunity to work alongside the founders of a small, but amazing company and being able to hear their personal insights on how to run a business.

The most unexpected element of this internship was how much work went into what I thought would be a quick project. I was under the impression that I would have time leftover to work on other tasks, but time ran out after completing the social media analysis project.

As an entrepreneur I learned that success only comes after putting in the hours and devoting attention to only the company. The founders of Meliora K showed me what it looks like to build a business. Very often one reads stories of how companies made it big, but very rarely does one see articles on the day-to-day sacrifices and activities that have to happen to get there. I learned about what these sacrifices and activities look like by having the privilege of working alongside two great entrepreneurs who devote their free time to realizing their company.

I enjoyed how helpful and kind the founders were. I went into the internship expecting to be given work to complete entirely on my own. I was afraid that I would not be able to ask questions of the founders, but they were very responsive when I asked them for help and guided me in the right direction when I needed tips.

My advice to students interested in doing an entrepreneurial internship is to pick a company that interests them. Their choice should not be centered on how big and well established the company is, but on how passionate they are about the company’s purpose. Not every workday at a startup is exciting, so if the business’ background is something in which the student is passionate about, the slower days will still end up feeling productive.

– Lena Newkold

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.

Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Jasmine Farley

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, sophomore Jasmine Farley, a Computer Science/Software Engineering major, reflects on her time interning at FanPay, a crowdfunding website helping college athletes earn an education.

FanPay is a company that motivates college athletes to graduate from college by offering them a monetary incentive through crowdfunding. As an intern, I worked directly with the one of the owners of the company, Tony Klausing, and assisted him with his projects. Because FanPay does not have an office, I worked remotely most of the time, with the exception of the weekly check-in I had with Tony at a local coffee shops. Most of the summer, we worked on getting more traffic and funding on the website, because not many people knew about FanPay yet. One of my projects was to gather a list of 100 companies, finding reliable contact information and contacting them to see if they would be interested in sponsoring FanPay. As expected, there was a lot of rejection. My greatest learning experience during this internship has been learning to accept rejection. Before starting at FanPay, Tony warned me that there would be a lot of rejection, and told me about the piles and piles of cease and desist orders, but I didn’t fully believe him until I experienced the rejection myself. One part of the project was to send proposals for sponsorship to various companies. Of the 50+ companies we emailed, not even a quarter of them responded, and of the ones that did respond, only about 5 companies were interested in sponsoring. Having this internship, and especially working with Tony, has motivated me to work harder and not to give up, even when  faced with what seems like endless challenges. Developing upon these traits has made me a better entrepreneur.

Looking back on this internship experience, I will definitely remember my personal development and how much I have learned from working with Tony over the course of the summer. I think one of the biggest lessons Tony has taught me is that success does not happen overnight, or over months, or possibly over a year. Before having this internship I was accustomed to doing work and seeing the effects of the work I have done; however, working with FanPay (and I’m sure any startup) requires patience and faith that your work will eventually pay off.

If I had to give advice to other students working an entrepreneurial internship, I would say that although it may seem as though the work you are doing is not immediately affecting the company, it is important not to give up nor to stop giving your all, because if you stay consistent you will eventually see the results of your continuous hard work.

I really enjoyed my internship experience this summer. This experience allowed me to help FanPay become a better company and in return, it helped me become a better entrepreneur.

– Jasmine Farley

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.

Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Annie Schmittgens

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, Annie Schmittgens, a junior majoring in Management/Entrepreneurship with a minor in Studio Art reflects on her internship experience at Spare to Share, an online private sharing network within residential buildings.

This summer, I worked for Spare to Share. Spare to Share is a community management tool that is in residential, coworking, and commercial buildings. They promote community and make communication easy between tenants and building managers.

I was on the social media, community engagement, and marketing team. I worked to spread the word about Spare to Share, and increase engagement with our customers. After getting to work, we would begin the day with a check in meeting to see what everyone was working on. I always dedicated a part of my day to complete social media research on prospective customers, then I would check our social media platforms, work on projects to engage our customers, and create a series of videos about Spare to Share and the summer intern team. I also had the opportunity to join the sales team and visit prospective customers. I got the chance to dabble in many different aspects of the company, which gave me many new opportunities and learning experiences.

After my summer working closely with a Chicago startup, I think my greatest learning experience was collaborating and playing multiple roles in the office, as this was the first time that I had an team of other interns to work with. The nine interns all had different major and minor backgrounds, but that didn’t prevent us from helping each other on our various projects. During my past two internships, I was the only intern. This meant that there was not much collaboration because I was given a project and I completed it the way that I thought made most sense. This summer, when I was given a project, I was able to discuss and work with my co-workers, making for a much richer experience and end result.

I would say that the most unexpected element of my internship was how hard I found it to market and sell a product that was not tangible and still in the process of being developed. This internship has affected me as an entrepreneur because it gave me insight into a different kind of business that I have not worked for before  – selling and marketing something that is not tangible. This was difficult because I found it hard to explain to our prospective customer what our product was, when I knew that it was changing and evolving.

After a summer working with Spare to Share what I enjoyed most was getting to know the other interns. I loved going to work to see them, and found so much joy in working with them on projects. What I’ll remember most is the people and the Level Office environment.

For any other students who are able to participate in an entrepreneurial internship I would say to stay open and do not be afraid to speak your mind and share your opinion. In a startup setting, everything is fast moving and sometimes it is hard to make your point, especially if everyone in the office is saying something different, but speak up! Your opinion does matter, your thoughts are valuable, and not sharing them is a disservice to the company you are working for. 

– Annie Schmittgens

Annie working at Spare to Share.

Annie working hard at Spare to Share.

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.

Startup Internship Program: Reflection From Alyssa Prince

Thanks to a gift from the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center sponsored 6 undergraduate student internships during the 2015 summer at premier Chicago startup businesses.

Below, senior Management/Entrepreneurship major, Alyssa Prince reflects on her internship at Kannatopia, a social media company focused on connecting the cannabis industry.

Alyssa Prince and Kurt Akers of Kannatopia.

Alyssa Prince and Kurt Akers of Kannatopia.

I have been working with Kannatopia as a business intern for the past month and a half. Kannatopia is a tech-startup and social media platform focused on connecting individual members and various medical marijuana related businesses who are interested and involved in the newly emerging cannabis industry. Our main goal is to provide users with a space to write about and share personal experiences and stories, relating to cannabis, with other like-minded people. Kannatopia’s platform features unique characteristics that differentiate it from other competitors in the cannabis-application marketplace.

As an intern at Kannatopia, I am responsible for a lot of idea generation while the company is in its beginning stages of software development. Since neither the website nor mobile application have been launched publicly to users yet, I am mainly responsible for curating different content to be placed in various parts of the company’s blog and web and mobile platforms. The day-to-day at Kannatopia starts with me working on gathering relevant contact information from various news and media authors who cover topics such as startups, technology, and/or cannabis. I have also been working on gathering any and all information on the 60 dispensary and 21 cultivation permit holders awarded to people by the Illinois government. After spending some time on this, I usually work directly with CEO, Kurt Akers on generating all sorts of different content from different blog topics to creative brand image ideas to specific content for the web and mobile application.

One of the greatest learning experiences I have taken from this internship opportunity, being on the employee end of a startup, is that it is really important for employees to feel the work they are completing is of value to the company. Assigning an employee work, when he or she does not understand exactly how it is going to benefit the company as a whole, can make the work difficult to complete. Another learning experience I will take with me from my internship is that it is essential for all teammates of a startup to be on the same page and aligned with the same mission and goals. Without this like-minded glue, a startup will run into issues because members will be unable to come to unanimous decisions pertaining to various business tasks and ideas.

The most unexpected element of my internship was the prep work that is needed to be done in order for some small task to be accomplished, which is just a small piece of the puzzle. It is unbelievably crazy how much fine detailing goes into the finding and starting a new company. I was really surprised at some of the details Kurt asked for my opinion on, in relation to either a feature or the physical design of the app or website. It would be something minuscule, but it was an aspect that actually played an important part in the overall Kannatopia platform.

My internship with Kannatopia has both inspired and reassured my plans to pursue a career in the medical cannabis industry. My internship has also helped me to layout some potential options I can take in order to accomplish my goal of eventually starting my own business. As an entrepreneur, this experience has made me realize that being a successful entrepreneur involves going out there and giving your all. There is a big difference between someone who says they are going to do something and someone who actually goes out and works for what they want. I enjoyed the industry most about my internship with Kannatopia. Getting to complete tasks relating to a subject matter that I love learning and talking about made the experience really enjoyable and easy to do.  

My piece of advice for future students working with an entrepreneurial startup internship is to make sure you have the right match between yourself and the business. Make sure your goals align with the goals of the company and then both sides will benefit in the long run.

-Alyssa Prince

Alyssa Prince at Kannatopia

SIP intern, Alyssa Prince, brushing up on her startup knowledge at Kannatopia.

As a finale to the 2015 Startup Internship Program, please watch a short video, with comments from all 6 student interns.