WakeUp StartUp Heads to COSI

Pitch event WakeUp StartUp is headed to a new location and getting a bit of a facelift for the upcoming year. Originally held at the Technology Commercialization Office at OSU, WakeUp StartUp is now calling COSI home.

“COSI really wanted to have a startup angle or a startup connection with the business community,” says WUSU Organizer Dan Rockwell. The science center was looking to capitalize on the growing momentum of the startup community and creative energy in their Franklinton neighborhood.

Rockwell says the event format is getting a refresher as well. Originally focused more on tech startups, WUSU has officially expanded the type of businesses that can pitch.

“In the first year you went though the tech companies,” he says. Lifestyle businesses, restaurants, food producers and retailers are now welcome to pitch. Even with the industry expansion, the pitch event still takes a business focus – how is your business going to make money, do you have a general business plan, etc.

WUSU has also done away with their judging panel. Instead, the floor will be open for audience members to ask questions. Rockwell says the event has gained a loyal group of followers and many attendees are engaged and want to ask questions, eliminating the need for a panel to get things rolling.

The final tweak comes in mixing up the obviousness of a pitching event. The final pitch will be an opportunity for COSI to highlight an exhibit or do a demonstration. For example, Rockwell says last month saw dry ice clouds in the middle of the presentation space and after the start of the year, the event will be held in the newly opened planetarium.

The move is a positive for all involved. WUSU can expand their industries, COSI is getting what it’s looking for, and the door is now open for other kinds of events at TCO.

While WUSU primarily solicits more finished companies or startups, Rockwell says the TCO is exploring events that are more tied with the university that will nurture ideas coming from all facets of the school. When pitching something as a startup, people automatically assume there is a business model, etc. TCO instead wants to take the weight off their shoulders and encourage students to present just ideas and ask where should I go next? As Rockwell describes it, ideas would be nurtured here then graduate to WUSU.

The next WakeUpStartup will be held Friday, Dec. 12. To register, visit wakeupstartup.com.