Rev1 Ventures held their January Founder’s Story: Q&A with Columbus’ Student Entrepreneurs at their facility today at lunch. It’s a great program that typically features a founder from one of their partner companies. But, today it was a panel of student entrepreneurs that shared their business journeys. I’ve been to these talks before and the themes of success and challenges that these students have faced are all familiar. Their resilience along with their realistic understanding of what’s possible all resonated just as strongly as it does coming from any of the other business owners who have told their stories.
Here’s a bit more about the students’ background and businesses as pulled from the event invitation:
Student entrepreneurship is an exciting part of the innovation and growth in our city. Columbus is a community filled with resources for young entrepreneurship. Join us as we sit down to talk with Brooke Yoakam of GiftPocket, Thomas Booker of Rev1 and Your Just Desserts, and Brandon Gotlieb of NXSTOR, as they share their experiences as student entrepreneurs and where they are headed on their startup journey.
About the speakers:
Brooke Yoakam, GiftPocket
Brooke Yoakam, currently a Junior at Upper Arlington High School, is actively involved on her school’s soccer team and volunteering. Brooke is also the CEO of GiftPocket, a mobile app designed to help teens easily store, manage, use, and exchange all their gift cards.
When she was 12 years old, she participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, where she developed the idea of GiftPocket and won funding for the “best business idea." After finalizing her business plan and participating in Customer Learning Lab, she became an engaged client with Rev 1 Ventures, where she received guidance that helped her turn her app idea into a reality.
Yoakam has worked extensively to bring together an experienced team to help her launch GiftPocket in December of 2018. Brooke has been committed and focused on solving the gift card problem that is common amongst teens.
Thomas Booker, Your Just Desserts
A graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) High School Program, a rigorous and internationally recognized college prep course of study, Thomas had originally planned to become a computer science engineer. Five years of entrepreneurial experiences in high school—including building a dessert catering business, Your Just Desserts and being a radio host on Pensacola Business radio X—propelled him toward a business degree.
Having earned a full scholarship to The Ohio State University, Thomas is majoring in operations management in the Fisher College of Business; a program ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. World and News Report. He is actively engaged with other young entrepreneurs on campus.
Thomas is also the Entrepreneur Programs Intern at Rev1. Thomas assists as the first touch point for the more than 600 entrepreneurs who reach out to Rev1 Ventures each year. He helps to quickly connect them to the startup resources available at Rev1 and in the Central Ohio community.
Brandon Gotlieb, NXTSTOR
Brandon Gotlieb is currently a junior honors finance student at Ohio State University and more notably, the CEO and Co-Founder of NXTSTOR. NXTSTOR is a revolutionary online marketplace that connects those with extra space to those that need a place to store items. Brandon’s love for the peer to peer economy and developing community based programs has contributed to both the development of NXTSTOR and his commitment to becoming a venture partner for Contrary Capital.
As a venture partner, Brandon works to deploy capital by utilizing the company’s first fund, which focuses on funding promising student run ventures. In this role, he is able to help college students actualize their companies just like he did. Brandon and his co-founders, Michael Gargasz, and Ashwin Rajgopal launched NXTSTOR in April of 2018, in order to bring the self-storage industry into the 21st century.
They have worked to grow the platform into the go-to hub for space rentals by working closely with homeowners to utilize spaces that are often left underused. The company is currently raising capital to continue building out the network of spaces available.