CEO hosts Start Up Storm to promote entrepreneurship

by Jayde Vogeler, Photography Editor

Starting a business may seem daunting, but every business starts small and starts growing. That small business starts with an individual, which could be you.

Simpson College Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization is hosting Start Up Storm, an all-day event starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Kent Campus Center. The purpose is for college students to reach out and hear how small-business owners around the Des Moines area started their business.

“The event is to promote entrepreneurship,” said junior Megan Myers, president of CEO and a public relations major. “We are bringing three speakers to talk about their businesses, how they started their businesses (and) promote the entrepreneurial spirit.”

The day starts out with pastries and networking with other individuals who are coming to the event. There are three speakers with a panel discussion in between, and a pitch competition.

Myers encourages students of all majors to attend.

“You are still going to get a lot of value to pursue and idea, and that is a good life skill to have,” she said. “Everyone probably has dreams to pursue their ideas to make a difference and impact. I think the speakers will have great advice to give to all students to use.”

Three Des Moines-area small-business owners — David Williamson, Megan McKay and Ben McDougal — will be speaking at the event.

Williamson is an artist who takes trash from the river and turns it into art. He has worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to create sculptures out of trash for Project AWARE which promotes environmental stewardship.

Marilyn Mueller, professor of business and faculty adviser for CEO, is excited for Williamson to share his story and how he takes trash and turns it into treasure. She said Williamson has spoken at Simpson before and had a full house in Great Hall.

“David Williamson is a creativity guru who is an interesting and fun speaker sure to engage everyone,” she said.

Megan McKay started Peace Tree Brewery in Knoxville and is now in the competitive market.

Ben McDougal hosts the 1 Million Cups event in Des Moines each Wednesday morning. Created by the Kaufman Foundation in Kansas City, 1 Million Cups is a national program designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs, according to its website.

Students and community members can come and go as they please. Myers hopes to continue it in the future and kick it off with a bang.

“I don’t want to think of it like a forum event, but it is pretty similar. There is a lot more value to it behind it because it is a full day and there are speakers coming,” Myers said. “We want students to look forward to it every year because there will be valuable speakers and want to go to.”

The pitch competition is held during the event where students present their ideas or what their business is like, similar to “Shark Tank.” A panel of area business owners are judging the competition including Brenda Easter, executive director of the Indianola Chamber of Commerce, Garret Fusco, of Studio Fusco, Geri Seiberling, of Etc! Graphics, Terry Pauling, of Exit Realty, and Todd Kielkopf, of KAdvise.

“Each brings a unique perspective that shows different paths in entrepreneurship in the local community,” Mueller said.

Ryan Snaadt, a senior majoring in business management and minoring in sociology, is pitching his business in videography that he has had for several months. He focuses on low-budget, quick, actionable video services in the metro.

Snaadt became interested in the competition after discussing his desire to grow his career and videography services in the Des Moines area with Mueller.

“I am quite nervous about pitching even though I have had an internship in direct sales and am an extrovert,” Snaadt said. “I am confident in what I have accomplished in the last six months, and regardless of the result of the competition, I feel that I have learned a lot about my entrepreneurial drive and what it takes to start a business.”

“What an opportunity to network, learn, and open your eyes to what other students are doing to pursue their passions,” Snaadt said

More information can be found on CEO’s Facebook page and Twitter account, @SimpCoCEO.