If there is one thing this weekend’s epic winter storm showed us, it’s that not even extreme weather conditions can keep Cleveland’s entrepreneurial community from coming out to celebrate its own.
On Saturday, January 19, LaunchHouse hosted its annual Bootstrap Bash at RED Space with hundreds in attendance. “On the worst snowy weather conditions that I think I’ve seen in five years, the fact that we had over 300 people show up is amazing,” says LaunchHouse founder Todd Goldstein. “It’s really a testament to the LaunchHouse community and the overall commitment to small business growth in Northeast Ohio.”
Featuring a live DJ and food from Spice Catering Co., Luna Bakery & Café, and Swenson’s, the event was co-hosted by LaunchHouse and Cleveland Jewish News and sponsored by GOJO Industries, Cleveland & Akron Lexus Dealers, and Taft/. The event also featured a startup showcase with approximately 12 local businesses including Fount, Toasti, Landi Industries, and more—the majority of which are tenants of LaunchHouse's coworking space.
“We recognize that businesses need exposure outside the walls of LaunchHouse, and this allowed them to get in front of 300 people to talk about their business,” says Goldstein.
Two awards were also given at the event to recognize extraordinary local entrepreneurs. GOJO chair and venturer Joe Kanfer was honored with the Visionary Entrepreneur Award, joining past recipients such as Dealer Tire’s Scott Mueller and OverDrive’s Steve Potash. This year’s Bash also marked the inaugural Spark Award, which LaunchHouse awarded in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau to recognize a “rising star” millennial entrepreneur.
Twenty-four companies applied for the award, and the three chosen finalists were Firefly, NOSOTROS Rock Climbing Gym, and Nextgen Restoration—with the latter taking home top honors. “We felt like while we’re honoring entrepreneurs that have been wildly successful, we should also highlight someone who is in the midst of growing their business and doing it successfully,” says Goldstein. “Every large entrepreneur like the Joe Kanfers and Steve Potashes of the world all started somewhere.”
Along with the introduction of the Spark Award, Goldstein says the Bootstrap Bash has grown and evolved in numerous other ways since LaunchHouse first started hosting the event eight years ago. Initially, it was a black-tie affair known as the “LaunchHouse Gala,” but over time, they decided to embrace a less formal approach and hold the event in “an industrial space that felt more representative of entrepreneurship and hard work.”
Plans are already underway for next year’s Bash, and those interested in applying, nominating someone for, or learning more about the Spark Award can do so here. Goldstein also encourages anyone curious about the event to get involved on the host committee or learn more about sponsorship options: “It's a great opportunity for organizations that want to get in front of the LaunchHouse community and the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial scene.”