For Immediate Release
WestGate@Crane, Ind. – April 19, 2016 –
The Lock & Key presents the launch of Begin 2 Biz at WestGate Academy April 19, 2016. Sawyer Sparks, the owner of Soy-Yer Dough modeling clay, was the featured speaker at the event. Sparks spoke about his time at Purdue University, being a young entrepreneur, and about being a contestant on the hit show Shark Tank.
Sparks started off taking entrepreneurial programs in college pitching ideas related to biofuels, but he says his focus shifted when he learned one of his professors had Celiac disease.
“I found out she couldn’t have wheat products or gluten products. Everyone else in class left the classroom, and I walked up and talked to her. That conversation ended up being an hour, two-hour conversation. [I found] out all the different products that had wheat in it.”
The professor’s child also had Celiac disease. Sparks says he realized just how many people were affected by gluten foods and products.
“Wheat is the main ingredient in Play Dough. Her child also had Celiac disease, and her child was around 6 or 7 and had never played with Play Dough. She couldn’t touch it, she couldn’t eat it, she couldn’t even trust her with it because if she did ingest it there would be issues. That was amazing to me. I didn’t realize the market I had been listening to.”
The first session of Begin 2 Biz featured several industry experts. From high school entrepreneurs to seasoned businesses professionals, dozens came to network at Begin 2 Biz.
Begin 2 Biz is small business mentoring open hours at WestGate Academy. It’s an opportunity for small business owners and entrepreneurs to ask several participating organizations questions to strengthen their businesses. Session one is open hours with industry experts from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Session two features a speaker who is a business professional from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Begin 2 Biz will take place every third Tuesday of the month. A new speaker will be featured each month.
Here is the list of industry experts who participate in the open hours:
- Indiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
- Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC)
- Indiana Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program
- IODD’s Technology Commercialization Program
- Radius Indiana
- NSWC Crane Division’s Small Business and Technology Transfer programs
- Bloomington Economic Development Corporation
- Ivy Tech’s Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship (Bloomington)
- Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) Purdue Foundry
- University of Southern Indiana’s Center for Applied Research
- WestGate Academy Conferencing & Training Center
IN THE PRESS: