Executive Director Bruce Leech's Message
Greetings and welcome to summer in the city. Before long, we will be back in school, but I hope everyone has a good August and returns safely to campus in the Fall. DePaul is investing in some great technology in our classrooms and our Center to enhance your overall learning experience and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Many students want to be an entrepreneur but they often ask how to come up with a new business idea. For some entrepreneurs, the idea comes naturally; perhaps it came from a current job, or there was an unsolved problem that they experienced first-hand. Many business schools will recommend a method to find a problem in the world or an unmet need and develop a solution. While there are many tactical ways that we teach, one important ingredient is often missed; your sense of purpose and passion!  Before you start to find the problem and solution, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is my personal purpose?
  • What purpose would I like my business to work towards?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • Which ultimate goals drive my ambition?

Once you have a few initial thoughts, see if you can discover your internal Why? Ask yourself: What am I passionate about, What is my purpose in life? and come up with an answer. Then challenge that answer by asking, "Why?" Repeat that five times, as a way of getting closer to the core of what drives you. This is essential not just as a personal self-awareness initiative, but as a key aspect of your business plan. I often play the video from Simon Sinek in class called the Power of Why? It really gets to the important question of not what you do, but why do you do it. I recommend watching this video to everyone. Ultimately, your why should result in a bigger vision for your life. Maybe you aspire to feel like you want to leave the world a better place, and it’s important to you that your work reflects the values you believe in.
With purpose in mind, you can now return to the traditional model of finding a problem in an existing market and then searching for a solution. Next, you can use your sense of purpose to actually formulate the business idea itself, and locate your problem, solution and market. Each Spring, we honor our students and alumni at our Purpose Pitch competition. This annual competition awards our purpose-driven businesses, which is so important to your success in business and in life. To fulfill your purpose and make a living at what you are passionate about is truly the entrepreneurial dream!
CEC's Social Impact Incubator - Save the Date!

The CEC is thrilled to launch its first Social Impact Incubator and provide DePaul students, alumni and underserved local entrepreneurs the skills and tools needed for a successful business that can provide jobs in the community. The program will consist of a six-week bootcamp during the winter quarter, a mentor program and participating businesses will receive an intern. Please fill out this interest form if you would like to participate in the program. More info to follow!
Sales Internship Opportunity

Portra is looking for an intern! Portra is a networking and marketing platform that focuses on helping its users build meaningful relationships and supports
small businesses. As their sales intern, you can gain hands-on experience speaking to customers, building rapport and working closely with the founder. If you are interested, please email Emily Doyle to learn more.
DePaul University and the CEC hosted the third University Pitch Madness event virtually on July 29. One undergraduate student team from each school (DePaul, Michigan State, IIT, Northwestern, WashU, University of Chicago, Iowa, Illinois, and Marquette) competed this year for $10,000 in award money and exposure for their business idea. After the judges scoring, Alex Kosyakov from University of Illinois won the competition this year with his battery technology. We congratulate all the students this year and look forward to being in person next year for our fourth University Pitch Madness competition.
Alex Kosyakov, 2021 Pitch Madness 1st Place Finalist
"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."
Drake Burciaga, DePaul University's Pitch Madness Team & 7th Place Finalist
What do you have planned next for your business?
I came up with the idea of instant parking for the drivers around the world, Parkster.ai, at the beginning of my second year at DePaul after my friends and I were desperately searching for a parking space for 20 minutes at the Lincoln Park campus.  Since then, with the help of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center – especially Professor Bruce Leech and his MGT 270 class – I have taken Parkster.ai from idea to concept to product and now to our first customers here in Chicago. Right now, we are working to partner with municipalities and parking lot owners. Drivers want to find parking spots and cities / parking operators need to fill up their lots. We are starting get a lot of traction and are looking to grow quickly. I recently debuted the technology and presented it at the Parking Industry Expo. I am fortunate to say that we received a lot of positive feedback, so we are riding that wave of momentum, too. 

What were your takeaways from Pitch Madness?
Pitch Madness was great for Parkster.ai because we received detailed, honest feedback from experts in the startup field. The tips for improvement we received from the panel judges are worth their weight in gold. One of the most memorable tips was from Troy Henikoff. He advised us to tell the other side of the story for our partners. It is obvious that drivers really want to find parking faster. However, it’s not so obvious that cities and parking lot owners have problems filling up their parking spaces. When Troy pointed that out, the business model came full circle. The JTBD is focusing in on connecting parking spaces that need to be filled with customers who need to park. At the end of the day, parking spaces are investments. If they don’t fill up these spaces, they will lose money. 

Where do you see your business in five years?
I have been obsessed with this specific idea – instant parking for the world – for almost two years now partly due to the sheer size of the opportunity. Every single driver in the world faces the problem of finding a parking spot every time they drive. There are a lot of unique factors about our current situation. No platform or company exists to try to provide directions in real time to open parking spaces. Because of this, we are creating a whole new industry focused on instant parking. I see us being a leading force in this new industry across the Americas, Europe, Australia, and hopefully Asia. Our solution’s scalability will allow us to do that. I don’t think it’s too implausible to scale as much as Facebook or Google did. But then again, we aren’t trying to be Google or do what they have already done… we are trying to be the next Google. 

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.
Join 1871 on August 26th for an in-depth conversation with Loran Nordgren and David Schonthal, on their newly published book, The Human Element. The authors will explore how The Human Element explores this new way of thinking followed by an open audience Q&A. Those who attend this event will receive a copy of The Human Element.
2112 celebrated National Thrift Day on August 17th with a panel discussion from local thrifters! Attendees learned new thrifting tricks and immersed themselves in discussion about conscious shopping.
Join MHub on August 19th for their Tax and Legal Considerations for Incorporating Your Business class. This class will offer information and advice on both and the legal and tax implications of the most common corporate entities. Led by Adam Spector of DLA Piper, this class will prepare you to make better informed decisions about your incorporation and properly handle the new tax act.

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.
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Questions? Email us at CEC@depaul.edu