Kricker Innovation Hub’s Ignite Portsmouth awards $5,000 to budding entrepreneurs


PORTSMOUTH — The Kricker Innovation Hub (KIH) at Shawnee State University hosted their second annual Ignite Portsmouth Entrepreneurship Boot Camp and Pitch Competition late last month. Seven aspiring entrepreneurs participated in an eight-week boot camp to get support to launch their business ideas.

“Last year, we launched Ignite Portsmouth practically during the height of the pandemic,” said David Kilroy, director of SSU’s KIH. “Since we personally ran the program this year, we could expand our program and bring in new expertise.”

Through several practical sessions, participants learned how to use the business model canvas, improve their skills in marketing their products and services, and received help in creating a business proposal. The training camp ended with a Business Pitch competition in front of a jury on June 30. Sponsorship by the Tri-State Angel Investment Group and a partnership with TechGROWTH Ohio, SSU, and the ECDI Women’s Business Center of Central Appalachia at SSU, supported the event and provided cash prizes for the top five business topics. The program is also made possible by support from the Appalachian Regional Commission

Sonya Frey and Mary McFarland won fifth place with $350, while Trampas Nolan and Trevor Bihl took fourth place and won $400. Candy Frazier took home third place and a $500 prize for her business, By Grace Interior Design. Abby Spears took second place, winning $1,000, for her social enterprise idea dedicated to changing the narrative of substance abuse in the region. First place and the $2,000 grand prize was won by SSU student Ben Shinkle for his business idea to expand regional metal and wire recycling.

“It’s been great to continue this program for the second year in a row, personally, and see a new group of future entrepreneurs equip themselves with the skills they need to succeed,” said Derrick Parker, KIH Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator.

The Kricker Innovation Hub is a regional leader in entrepreneurship and innovation whose mission is to help businesses and entrepreneurs grow and bring their ideas to the market of tomorrow. To learn more about the services offered by the Kricker Innovation Hub at Shawnee State University, visit

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