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That's a Wrap! >> Silicorn Valley Summit

We did it! We hosted our inaugural Silicorn Valley Summit in collaboration with the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer and can we just say, sweet-cornstalks, it was good!
Illinois State Treasurer, Michael Frerichs said,
"We know a major key to economic growth is to support local innovation. It's impactful to advance new ideas and products created by Illinois entrepreneurs who are developing and facilitating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. For this reason, we are fostering relationships with our strategic partners like Innovate Springfield, trying to open new opportunities to founders throughout Illinois.

We know the talent pool is vibrant across our state from the heights of our skyscrapers to the roots of our Cornfields. We know that the entrepreneurial ecosystem is flourishing in Springfield and we are here to provide support. 

Moving forward, we will continue to make strides in making Illinois the tech hub of the Midwest while cultivating relationships between companies and venture capitalists alike."

Can we also say MAJOR congratulations to all of the starters who pitched their concepts at the event?!
  • Kelly Hurst, Being Black at School // A Movement For Equity And Safety For Black Students. Being Black at School is a national nonprofit advocacy organization focused on addressing the complexities of being a Black student in the American education system.
  • Rusty Jones, Hellowater // Made with only quality ingredients, hellowater® delivers wellness benefits for digestive health, immune defense, and the body’s pH balance, with great tasting flavors, zero sugar and inspirational messaging.
  • Lindsay Eck + Angela Troppa, InvolvED // Using innovative, technological strategies with behavioral change research and family systems theory in mind, InvolvED strives to educate and engage families by strengthening relationships between home, school, and community with the overall goal of improving academic, personal, and social-emotional outcomes for all students.
  • Debashree Mukherjea, Novear Therapeutics // Developing a pharmaceutical therapeutic to treat and possibly restore noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Amy Strawn, Preparedness Solutions // Helping countries, cities, communities, companies, and citizens prepare for disasters both natural and man-made with Preparedness Solutions. 
  • Barnabas Helmy, Puck // A Patented Wireless Bluetooth Low-Energy to Infrared Bridge.
ENCORE! ENCORE! [The crowd goes wild!]

The feedback that we have received since hosting the Silicorn Valley Summit event has been incredible. We did it. It was super-duper. We owe it all to the starters that we serve, the iSPI staff, the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer, our founders, and funders. We can't thank you all enough for your support and interest in our activities!

We're so proud of the starters for all of their work and for taking center stage to showcase how we're catalyzing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and making Springfield the center of the Midwest Tech Hub, together.
We're making all the Midwest magic happen.
Thanks for being here with us!

We did it! We wrapped up our Fall 2021 CO.STARTERS Cohort at Innovate Springfield and it was so good! We are shouting it from the rooftops and making serious noise right now.

For the past ten weeks, these founders have poured their hearts, souls, and every spare second into their business concepts. They've gotten all the customer feedback, they've perfected their messaging, they've discovered their break-even point, and they've made serious plans for success.
We want everyone in the whole entire world to know about these STAR CO.STARTERS Graduates from Innovate Springfield. So keep scrolling.

All the high-fives in startup life and BIG TIME congratulations to the Fall Cohort!
  • Kristina Barbee, Ad Astra Wine Bar, and Market // Made for the witty, rebellious, and open-hearted, Ad Astra Wine Bar and Market is the most thoughtful and inclusive wine experience available in Springfield. Our bar and market includes everything you need to craft your own custom wine experience at our table or yours.
  • Danielle Hartman, Full Potential Career Coaching // Rise up to your full potential. If you are ready to take the next step in your career, change careers or overcome career challenges, this is the place for you! This coaching is built for women who are ready to take charge of their careers and thrive!
  • Kasandra Heard, Funky Scentsations // Elevate your at home spa experience with bath bombs, butters, and coming soon, candles by Funky Scentsations.
  • Valancia Joiner, Cupcake Blossom (launching soon) // Celebrate your special moments with flowers that you can eat thanks to Cupcake Blossom! Cupcake Blossom is a home-based bakery set to launch in January of 2022, that specializes in creating cupcakes adorned with delectable buttercream to resemble floral arrangements known as cupcake bouquets.
  • Caleb Leach, The Liar's Group // Hand printed kids clothing & accessories.
  • Anna Myszka, Klarhet Pottery // Offering fully customizable at-home pottery night parties, classes for adults and children, and handcrafted, artisan ceramics.
  • Tom Raymond, The Cats' Pyjamas (launching soon) // A cat café is a café-style foster site for cats that people pay to socialize with and adopt feline friends. We’ll also provide prepackaged foods, and pet-inspired gifts.
CO.STARTERS is a proven effective program that walks a small business starter through the business model canvas and supports them through their customer discovery process. 92% of CO.STARTERS go on to launch their business, and 97% are still in business a year later. 

We've been running CO.STARTERS at Innovate Springfield since the Spring of 2019. Since then, we've graduated 44 starters from the program, including a handful of UIS students. GET EXCITED because the program is being offered for credit in the Spring of 2022. UIS students interested in earning an elective credit as a participant in the CO.STARTERS program should contact Rob Weis in the Office of Engaged Learning for details at


At Innovate Springfield community is what it’s all about! It’s the most collaborative, supportive, and authentic environment we’ve ever worked in. The real magic is in the people who call iSPI their work-home and the passion and value that they bring to our community.

Can we just say, BRAVO! We are clapping for Innovate Springfield member and Fall 2019 CO.STARTERS graduate, Gordon Davis, founder of Whimsy Tea Company for being named Best New Business Downtown by the Illinois Times. This is what being a part of the collaborative community at Innovate Springfield looks like.
Photo Credit: Patrick Russell Creative
Davis said, "We cultivate the unique – that's the great thing about downtown. It's where people go to build their own thing." Experience the Whimsy Tea Company way by visiting their storefront at 316 East Adams Street.
You can also shop from your screen by visiting their website. If you're looking for a unique experience, check out their Tranquili-Tea personalized shopping option. Oh, and don't wait because time is running out to get your extra-special Whimsy Tea Advent Calendar.

Read their full Best of Springfield profile along with the other local award recipients in the Illinois Times or by clicking here.


Stop what you're doing and join us in congratulating Innovate Springfield graduate Harvey Horton, founder of Stuff-It Storage for being named Best Storage Facility by the Illinois Times. We are so proud!
It was crystal clear to us when we first met Harvey that he was going to absolutely dominate and totally disrupt the storage industry. His deep understanding of the problem he intended to solve and unmatched work ethic have paid off. We aren't at all surprised. This is iSPI-Star-Power.
With traditional self-storage, mobile storage, valet storage, and ownership options, Stuff-it Storage is ready to support all of your storage needs. Take a time out to read about how Harvey is solving all those storage industry woes for good and how he has propelled his concept to achieve the title of Best Storage Facility.


Welcome to #iSPILyfe, where we're learning every day and growing every day and we know it. Join us!
ICYMI // We recorded our October Mindfulness Meditation so you can catch a break when it's convenient for you. Everyone is invited to join us for Yoga TODAY at 4:30 PM on Zoom. Don't miss it!
Self-Care for Starters

Prioritizing the health and wellness of those that we serve has always been important to us here at iSPI. All are welcome to join us for gentle Yoga for Starters on the first Tuesday of each month, and Mindfulness Meditation for Starters on the third Tuesday of each month with Innovate Springfield member Amy Denney, founder of Shine Light Therapy.
Date: First Tuesday of each month
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Mindfulness for Starters
Date: Third Tuesday of each month
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
We hope that you'll make Self-Care for Starters part of your
regular work routine with us!
Scope the Full Lineup of Events
Copyright © 2021 Innovate Springfield, All rights reserved.

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