Governor’s Virginia Velocity Tour Visits Strome Entrepreneurial Center
Virginia Velocity Tour visited the campus of ODU at Strome Entrepreneurial Center Sept. 21 on a mission to recruit, celebrate and support Virginia startups. This five-city tour, complete with an eye-catching campaign bus, floated down Interstate 64 and into Strome’s parking lot. In Richmond the previous night, ODU alumnus Hamilton Perkins won the $25 thousand grant in the pitch competition reminiscent of television’s Shark Tank. Perkins pitched his designer handbags made from recycled plastic. The tour brought that Monarch momentum to Norfolk, disallowing heavy flooding to dampen the startup spirit.
In celebration of the day’s activities, director Nancy Grden and a team at Strome welcomed the crowd with a speed networking event. ODU President John Broderick’s remarks to the crowd were warm and inviting, embracing the can-do attitude. He stated he wishes to help keep innovative business ideas in the area. After President Broderick’s comments, Grden instructed attendees to break the ice with those around them.
Josh Ebreo has utilized Strome’s services during his time at ODU, sharing about his app Noteify, stating, “this center gives us a place for everyone to come and show what they’re working on.” Another startup idea shared was Student Veteran House, a social entrepreneurship idea for disabled vets. Their mission is to provide studend veterans 100 percent accessible housing. Akeyla Reid, ODU alumnus and faculty member, said this experience “helped open my eyes to all the different facets of how Virginia’s economy is growing and I am really appreciative of that.” Grden gave credit to the success of the event to those attending, including the student and ODU alumni businesses.
The Virginia Aquarium was the venue for the grand finale in Hampton Roads, and ODU freshman Michael Freeman was in attendance. “I am grateful to have Strome because it has introduced me to opportunities I would like to pursue upon graduation,” Freeman said.
The final event of the evening was the pitch competition featuring six different startups in science and biotechnology from across the Commonwealth. Adartis took home the prize money with their bio-pharmaceutical firm focused on improving animal health. Other pitchers included Attention Point, Cardinal Mechatronics, Go Go Band, Sanyal Biotechnology and Track Patch 1 Corporation. Track Patch, based in Norfolk, has utilized Strome as well as the Health and Sciences department on campus, developing their device to help loved ones and caretakers know when someone with Alzheimer’s has wandered off. Ending his pitch, CEO John Reese stated, “Other companies find them after they’re already lost. We don’t lose them!”
Larry Wilder, a member of Gov. McAuliffe’s office, cited the Ensminger Fellowships at ODU as capitalizing on the assets of a university and fostering the entrepreneur spirit as an exciting opportunity. Wilder’s excitement peaked when discussing the governor’s desire to see startups in Virginia. “First and foremost, he is an entrepreneur. If you were to talk to him about our economy, the first word out of his mouth would probably be ‘jobs,’ the last word would be ‘jobs’ and every other word would be ‘jobs.’ He’s walked the walk and now wishes to empower others to do what he has been able to do.” This conversation was a promising end to an amazing day of celebrating the startup spirit alive and well in Monarch Nation.