ASU’s recently launched Venture Devils Plus program has announced its new cohort of six business ventures for the 2021 spring semester. This semester's application process included an interview along with the written application to better communicate and understand the ventures that were applying to the program.
Venture Devils is an education, mentorship and support program for ASU students, faculty, staff and community-based entrepreneurs to help get start-up ventures off the ground.
Venture Devils Plus is a mentorship program for those who are ready to put their venture into the market. In order to apply for Venture Devils Plus, ventures must already have completed Venture Devils.
Marty Levy, CEO of LevelUp Growth Partners, and Stephanie Sims, founder of Finance-Ability, are the two mentors who run Venture Devils Plus and work with the businesses and companies that come through the program to better prepare them for the open market and investment opportunities. According to Levy, the program is currently in its fourth semester of working with cohorts.
“We saw that there was a need amongst the entrepreneurial programs at ASU and a gap in the programs that existed,” Levy said. “Stephanie and I worked with the leadership team at (Entrepeneurship and Innovation) and crafted the program with their guidance to fill that gap.”
Sims said many of the companies that come out of the Venture Devils program don’t come out having the resources they need “in the ecosystem” to be able to move forward.
Venture Devils Plus provides the companies with the “go-to-market and investment strategies” necessary to move forward, Sims said.
This year, the program added an interview process to accompany the written application which provided insight as to what the companies and businesses looked like after going through Venture Devils.
Sims and Levy said the interview process was key to determining which six applicants would become finalists and join the program.
“The importance of the interview gave us an insight into the entrepreneurs themselves and how they perceived their business and the obstacles that they are facing,” Sims said.
The interview gives the mentors a chance to see if the applicant's company or business is the right fit for the program, meaning that they are “committed to the program, want to be involved in the learning process and be able to absorb and execute it within their business," Levy said.
Jason Miller, a senior studying organizational leadership, graduated from the program in December 2020.
Throughout his time with Venture Devils Plus, Miller said his business, StormStick Decon, which provides a tool for firefighters to rinse off contaminates known to cause cancer, was able to grow and get to a place where he has already begun working with organizations to help him put his product into use.
“(Venture Devils Plus) gave us a teachable sales strategy that helped us work locally and gave us a better plan when selling as to how departments are structured,” Miller said.
Miller said the program was a sort of “accelerator” for the regular Venture Devils and that by working with Levy and Sims, he was able to identify the real problems that needed to be addressed in his business and was able to create a process and strategy that helped him and his business succeed.
The Venture Devils Plus program is used to provide mentorship and guidance that help the cohorts gain and create better connections and move forward in their careers as entrepreneurs.
“The evolutionary path of the program is to solidify connections to the broader ecosystem,” Levy said. “To enable the businesses who graduate from Venture Devils Plus (to) move forward in their ventures through different resources that are available in the community.”
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Luke Chatham is a Community & Culture reporter and previous Business and Tech reporter. He also worked in the studio production crew for Cronkite News and is currently a freelance reporter and writer for Arcadia News.