Young Entrepreneurs Create Network in Cincinnati

New venture guides young leaders to resources and community

When you were graduating from high school or college, or maybe thinking about trade school, did you ever feel like nothing quite matched up with your career goals? Maybe you changed your major six times, or always dreamed of starting your own business but had no idea where to actually start. For YEP!, the Young Entrepreneurs Project in Cincinnati, the more questions the better. Founded by two startup lovers, the project turned from a pipedream into a host of resources aimed at helping entrepreneurs find their way within the startup community. Their goal is simple: helping young movers and shakers succeed.

“We started YEP! because we’re both interested in startups, but we were having trouble finding a support system. Then we started thinking: hey, why not create our own?” said co-founder Madeline Martini. “My co-founder James Nuveen and I worked together at the startup Cerkl, and noticed that in our schools and communities there were a lot of young people interested in entrepreneurship. We formed our own platform and called our followers ‘The Tribe’ because we wanted to focus on giving everyone the resources to pursue their passion.”

YEP!’s assistance includes a podcast, blog and newsletter that offer everything from tips on time management to the best ways to get an internship at a startup. For those who have just graduated from college, the platform acts as an informational career guide you might not have encountered within a departments’ advising offices. The focus of YEP! Is to answer questions instead of proposing a singular path toward success.

“We found that counselors and advisors don’t always recommend entrepreneurship, even if you go to a more formal business school,” said Martini. “We’re trying to make people think differently and empower them to do things that a counselor might not tell them about. We both got our internships at startups from emailing a bunch of CEOs in Cincinnati, but a counselor didn’t tell us to do that. Entrepreneurs just think differently, and we want to encourage that.”

Since its beginning, YEP! has embraced the support of the Startup Cincy community. The platform has directed members to regional resources like Cintrifuse, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier. It’s founders also speaking at events like State of Innovation hosted by Cincy Inno.

“The community in Cincinnati is incredible,” said Martini. “The universities in Cincinnati have helped us by sharing YEP! with their students. It’s been really great to see that our virtual community has real impact. Even something as simple as looking at a resume might get someone an internship, and they return the favor by hiring someone else within the group. That’s the kind of network we want to grow.”

With plans to expand the YEP! platform in 2019, the team hopes that the project will eventually grow into regional chapters or even a national conference to widen its reach.

“We really want to have meetup groups in all the major markets as well as untapped areas,” said Martini. “We’re both very passionate about the Midwest because we found there’s more diversity here in terms of what people are interested in building. We love being part of the collaborative environment here, too. Whenever we talk with someone, we want to leave the conversation saying, ‘let us know how we can help you,’ and the Midwest is a special place for that.”

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