Bruce Leech
Executive Director
Greetings from London. I am finishing up a Study Abroad program to London with 16 DePaul students and it has been a great experience for all of us. Having lived in London off and on for 10 years, I am always amazed at how vibrant this city is 24X7. It is also a pleasure to see London again through the eyes of our students seeing it for the first time! I have not been to London in a while during the Christmas season and I forgot how decorated this town has become. From Oxford Street to Regent Street to Bond Street, the holiday lights are on most buildings and above the Streets, which helps light up this city since the sun is going down at 3.30pm! The large Christmas tree, open air market and street performers in Covent Garden also add to the holiday cheer this time of year.
The main goal of our Study Abroad program to London is for our students to look for business ideas that exist in the UK that don't exist in the US and develop a business plan on their idea. They are working in teams to look at unique business models, be that a unique restaurant, retail shop or use of technology. They will then pitch their UK inspired business ideas to some judges when we get back home on December 14. In addition to making them work, they are enjoying the great restaurants in London. Somehow London got a bad rap for good food but since I have been coming here most years since the mid 1990’s, I am on a mission for my guests to really enjoy the London food scene. There are every ethnicity of restaurants you can imagine, especially Indian. We have also dined on Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Brazilian, Thai, Turkish and of course British with their great sticky toffee pudding, followed by a whiskey (aka scotch). As I write this on our bus, we are visiting Warwick Castle and Shakespeare birthplace in Stratford on Avon (had to include some culture on this trip) and we will go to Windsor and St Paul's Cathedral tomorrow before returning home. 
Finally, it has certainly been a challenge navigating all the Covid restrictions during our trip and everyone here is doing their best to remain safe while new procedures are unfolding in the USA. We know this coming year will continue to be a challenge for all of us, but together we will get through this safely. As I sign off from London, I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great New Year in 2022. Thanks again for being part of our CEC Community!
We completed our 11th annual CEC Innovation Expo with 8 students presenting their ideas and awarded $5,000 in scholarships. The student business ideas were innovative and purpose driven. Many of these ideas went forward to compete in our Purpose Pitch competition.
This year, we took DePaul students virtually on a tour of our incubator partners, to meet with successful startup founders and learn about the many resources available throughout Chicago's entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Welcome Back Expo
Our Welcome Back Expo was a huge success! At our Expo this year, attendees learned more about the CEC's upcoming programs and events, resources for entrepreneurs such as CEO and Net Impact student organizations, and successful entrepreneurship stories from our DePaul student and alumni startups: DeoBlockCocktail Claw & Reusabowl. Thank you to all who showcased and attended!
1871 Tour
The CEC took DePaul students to 1871 for a private tour and to learn about the resources this unique incubator has to offer for startups. Thank you to everyone who participated! Students from every college across the university are welcome to apply to participate in 1871's programs and events. To learn more about 1871 and to get involved, please email us at
The CEC's Startup 101 workshop is an opportunity to learn how you can get involved and connected in the entrepreneurial community. Bruce Leech, Executive Director of the CEC, conducts this informative and fun workshop once every quarter.

In this workshop, Bruce shares with us what it takes to start and sustain a business (and how the CEC can help!). Bruce brings stories from his expertise and real-world experience - bootstrapping a $90 million business- to DePaul students, alumni and the community.
The CEC closed applications and is now excited to launch its first SII in the winter of 2022! 

Social impact entrepreneurs pay close attention to how their businesses affect and benefit others. As an in-person incubator program, we will provide resources for the participating entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses.

Our pilot incubator program will boost the success of entrepreneurial ventures, owned by DePaul students, alumni, and community members. Participants will have the opportunity to work with cohort peers, DePaul faculty, mentors, student interns and expert entrepreneurs, to further develop their social impact businesses.

If you have any questions or are interested in learning more, please reach out to
This blog is launched to highlight incredible entrepreneurial stories by DePaul University students, alumni, and faculty as well as small businesses throughout Chicago. With each blog post, the CEC hopes to promote entrepreneurship resources and educational content, inspire prospective entrepreneurs, and influence businesses to Do Good and Do Well in Chicago.

If you have any questions or are interested in being a contributor, please reach out to
To View the DePaul Entrepreneurship Blog
During the winter and summer quarters the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center was able to offer 38 students the opportunity to pursue internships among startups in the Chicagoland area. Despite the vast challenges and limitations in the workforce over the last year, each student intern was compensated for their hard work. 

The CEC Internship Program pays students $2,000 stipend for 120 hours of work with a local startup each summer. If you're interested in learning more and participating during summer 2022, please email
This year our mentorship program with Brad Emanuel serving as the chair has grown to 50+ mentors! Our mentors offer a variety of expertise to help entrepreneurs succeed in their business ventures. The program is open to all DePaul students, alumni and community members so if you need help with marketing, legal, loans or a variety of other business concerns, don't hesitate to ask for help from one of our mentors.
To sign up for the Mentorship Program
In this challenge, 13 DePaul students were split into teams to come up with a marketing strategy for local business Danie’s Detox Drinks, founded by Danie Marshall, a graduate of Sunshine Enterprises’ Community Business Academy.

The CEC Hackathon Challenge consists of three rounds. During the first round, each student entrant conducts a competitive analysis of the business. A panel of judges – consisting of mentors from Sunshine Enterprises, CEC staff and local business professionals – then selected five student winners, who each received a $300 scholarship award. In the second round, students split into five teams and worked with a mentor to help solve the startup’s challenge. On March 2, each team pitched their business strategy to Marshall as well as an audience of more than 75 people.

In round three, the winning student team continued working with Marshall for an additional two weeks to help implement their idea for her business. Each student was given an extra $700 for their time.

DePaul MBA student Claoe Louis (BUS ’07), who was a part of the winning team Pearfection, says participating in the Hackathon provided an opportunity to put his MBA training to use. 
A DePaul University team took home the winning prize at the Campus 1871 Pitch Competition hosted by Chicago’s digital startup hub, 1871, this past April. The annual event, held virtually this year, included a two-week educational program for university students to learn and develop entrepreneurial skills, build connections and pitch their businesses to a panel of tech industry leaders in Chicago.

Kellstadt Graduate School of Business student Teagen Andrews, MBA graduate and current master’s student Virgini​a Head, along with their teammates, DePaul undergraduates Mudabbir Tariq and Requel Young, won $2,000 in prize money for pitching their business, ReusaBowl – an app that enables restaurants to utilize and maintain an inventory of reusable containers, made from recycled plastic, for off-premise dining.
At this year's Purpose Pitch, our attendees presented stellar business pitches and showcased their entrepreneurial spirits. Congratulations to all of our finalists! Each year, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center spotlights purpose-driven business ideas that focus on doing good and the bottom line. The annual event explores the ideas of purpose-driven startups in Chicago. The Purpose Pitch is a unique pitch session where startups pitch their greater purpose and how they plan to fulfill that purpose through their business objectives. If you would like to learn more and get involved, please email
To Watch Purpose Pitch 2021 Competition Video
"Pitch Madness was a wonderful experience - making these kinds of events virtual as necessitated by the pandemic is always tough, but Pitch Madness was definitely the best organized and most well-put-together virtual event I've had the opportunity to participate in. The chance to network with some of the other students and organizations involved was really great as well because my startup is still finding its way in the Illinois entrepreneurial ecosystem. The judges' feedback was illuminating and Natrion is taking the advice we received to heart. My team and I are ecstatic to have had the chance to represent the University of Illinois and we'll be putting the prize money to use to continue building out our R&D center at the University of Illinois Research Park." Alex Kosyakov, 2021 Pitch Madness 1st Place Finalist.

The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center is the proud host of the annual Pitch Madness competition. During the event, participating universities throughout the Midwest showcase their best student entrepreneurs, who pitch their businesses via Zoom. A panel of judges then determines the best and most innovative business idea among these universities. Students compete for a share of $10,000 in prize money.

This year, Drake Burciaga represented DePaul University in Pitch Madness with his innovative idea If you would like to learn more and get involved, please email
To Watch 2021 Pitch Madness Competition Video
DePaul University's MS student, Victoria Martin Del Campo (winner of 2020 Purpose Pitch) and her business Lets Liink, competed in the Big East Pitch Challenge on February 25th. Victoria did a great job against all the other Big East schools, which was a virtual competition this year.
New CEC Advisory Board Members!
This year, the CEC has added six new members to the Advisory Board:

  • Kimberly Weiner
  • Diane Hasty
  • Eric Gastevich
  • Michael Dufton
  • Stephen Ball
  • Randi Binstock

Welcome to the CEC team!
The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center has curated a list of external and university-wide resources with the latest events, competitions, programs, incubators and more for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

1871 hosts Early Stage Info Sessions every Tuesday. These sessions show startup founders all of the resources 1871 has to offer. Sign up and learn more about how 1871 can help your business.
2112 is Chicago’s first business incubator focused on the development of entrepreneurs in music, film/video and creative industry-focused technologies.
All DePaul students and faculty have access to our office space and programming at 2112.
MHub is having a Corporate Finance Structure: Debt Financing event December 21st. Sign up now to learn the ins and outs of bank loans for your business.

ISTC is a member-driven nonprofit organization that cultivates technology-based economic development throughout Illinois, offering mentorship programs and startup challenges for students and entrepreneurs. All DePaul students & faculty have access to their programming and events.
Questions? Please email us at: