At Utah Valley University’s first VentureCon on Tuesday, the variety of student businesses was impressive.
VentureCon was the Entrepreneurship Institute’s first foray into a student business trade show, but it’s one Peter Robinson, Morris Professor of Entrepreneurship at UVU, plans to repeat. Business-minded students from entrepreneur classes and other disciplines at the university were able to show off their ideas, products and innovative processes, while networking with other students and local business leaders.
“In our classes, we talk about minimal viable product and this is it,” Robinson said, looking around at the 30 different businesses on display in Centre Stage of the Sorensen Student Center.
The atmosphere in the room was one of excitement, reflecting a microcosm of Utah County’s startup scene — with some businesses just starting out, while others were already on their way to success. From a trash valet system to paint removal, and outdoor products to bibs, Robinson said at least five of them were already sustainable businesses, and he suspected many more would be so very soon.
A few of the ready-to-launch student business ideas included: Whitney Cheney’s LaLa Swimwear, unique high-end swimwear for little girls that will roll out soon; Aurora Hansen’s OCD Organizing, a professional organizing business launching May 1; and Terry Bailey’s InstaLinked, a business social media referral platform.
Jase Warner, founder of Letter Love Goods, which focuses on trending home décor, came to Tuesday’s event with success already in the bank. Inspired by his wife, his letter boards already sell through his company’s website, Etsy and Amazon — bringing in thousands of dollars each month.
The variety of business ideas was as varied as the students themselves. On either side of Warner were two different wooden sunglasses business. Those were flanked by art, jewelry and tech businesses, and a monthly subscription club for women. On another aisle, a company devoted to creating a social media platform to motivate and inspire addiction recovery, faced a husband-and-wife duo who created a personal training app.
As Robinson greeted the entrepreneurial students, he was excited about how quickly VentureCon came together. Robinson credited one of his students, Javier Godoy, for the idea and the execution.
“Javier asked me, ‘What do you do to promote student business?’ And I didn’t have a great answer. So he and I put our heads together and came up with this. That was six weeks ago,” Robinson said.
Godoy commandeered a booth at Tuesday’s show, promoting his own venture OrangeWave Solutions, an accounting and bookkeeping service for small businesses. He too was excited by the turnout.
“All these businesses are able to show their products and services,” he said.