Dar Caldwell at the Entrepreneurship Speaker Series
Determined to put an end to the ‘brain-drain’ that was depleting Cleveland of its talent, Dar Caldwell, the first speaker featured in the Dyson school’s Entrepreneurship Speaker Series class, told the audience of his journey as an entrepreneur where he transformed an old, used car showroom into a creative developing space for entrepreneurs to share ideas and build their companies – reminiscent of Cornell’s ‘Pop-Shop’. He explained that this space, called ‘LaunchHouse’, offers the service of an accelerator – connecting startups to venture capitalists for funding and putting their ideas to the test by helping developing minimum viable products to release to the public. The other service LaunchHouse offers is rental space for entrepreneurs to really live and breathe the ‘Boot-strapper’s lifestyle, complete with sleeping on couches, impromptu brainstorming sessions, living on ramen noodles and growing their businesses with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
Stating that Cleveland was experiencing a dearth of entrepreneurial spirit, Caldwell set out to reinvigorate the area by attracting entrepreneurs from all over the nation to come to the LaunchHouse to exhibit, develop and accelerate their startup ideas into reality. The unique aspect about Caldwell’s venture is that he has made the art of making a startup the focus of his own startup – essentially fostering entrepreneurship through entrepreneurship! Now an established player in the industry with strong connections to the Shaker Heights community and to alumni who have moved on from the program, Caldwell proved to be the ideal first man at bat for the Entrepreneurship Speaker Series. A really enthusiastic personality, Caldwell showed that he still maintains his ‘bootstrapper’ mentality, inspiring entrepreneurs among the audience to act on their ideas.