The Time To Start is NOW: Entrepreneurship in NEO.

The good news for entrepreneurial superheroes ages 18-35 is that there’s never been a better time to start your own business, especially in Northeast Ohio. 

“Millennials Will Save the Economy.” Google that phrase right now. Really. Articles from reputable financial experts detail Millennials’ penchant for flexibility, creativity and passion toward causes, not corporations. They say these traits Millennials possess will help to lift the U.S. out of the economic malaise we’ve been muddling through for years. No pressure, right?

The good news for entrepreneurial superheroes ages 18-35 is that there’s never been a better time to start your own business, especially in Northeast Ohio. Whether you’re an industry veteran confident enough in your skillset to strike it out alone, or you simply have a great idea and the drive to see it to fruition, Greater Cleveland offers invaluable, unique resources to get you from start-up to success story.

ISES Ohio Wow

The Original Social Media: Networking

No matter how much information you can soak up online, old-fashioned, in-person networking exposes you to diverse people, perspective and plans of action you can’t get from a how-to list or guest blog post (even this one). And, lucky for you, Northeast Ohio has a ton of networking opportunities.

I joined the International Special Events Society (Cleveland chapter) in 2012, which some of the most accomplished events professionals in the nation attend. I immediately joined the Communications Committee, and ISES’ friendly and supportive members helped blossom my idea into my own events company.

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Entrepreneurial Culture

Northeast Ohio has a diverse culture, up-and-coming neighborhoods, and unlimited opportunities. With so many small businesses and independent establishments thriving here, it’s easy to get creative and find people you can work with to achieve mutual success, whatever your trade.

From professional networking groups, to free start-up mentoring (, to investment opportunities and training (LaunchHouse, Bizdom Cleveland), I’ve found that Northeast Ohio has all the tools you need to grow your dream idea into a full-time business.


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Go for the grants. You can seek out willing people who want to hear about your idea and give you cash to get it going — for example many have found success with Kickstarter, but you can also explore options that offer professional investment, education and encouragement. Bizdom Cleveland and JumpStart are two great places to look online for investment and resources in the area when you’re ready to put your idea under the spotlight.


This place is such a boon to the community that it gets its own paragraph. LaunchHouse is “a coworking space and community that fosters entrepreneurial success and job creation through education, hard work and collaboration with interesting, like-minded people.” If you want to meet young, enterprising movers and shakers, this is the place. With what seems like unlimited space and resources (offering everything from 3-D printers, to a shirt-screening facility, to Tesla coils, to meeting space, to free beers on the venue tour), you’ll meet amazing people to bounce ideas off and maybe even the space and capital to launch your idea into greatness. It’s currently located in Shaker Heights and is in plans to expand.


My advice in starting a company is most importantly, don’t wait. If you have an idea, start building now. Northeast Ohio has the resources to help you. Once you take the first steps for your business in areas you’re already comfortable with (whether you can build your own website, or you love meeting new people through networking) you’ll have something to start building on — and who knows how high you’ll go!

“Whatever’s worth doing is worth doing well,” Thomas Beckett once said. You can read all the “Art of War” you want, but I think those words are the best cornerstones of any business in today’s connected climate. I hope these ideas will inspire you as countless others have inspired me.


Christopher Hatala, Owner and Event Director of Games Done Legit, markets and produces video game special events and parties in the Greater Cleveland area. After running an internationally-attended video game tournament for 7 years, Chris expanded his efforts to entertain kids and adults alike, with everything from Atari to Xbox. Chris holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University, is a member of the International Special Events Society, and was a finalist at the 2013 ISES Ohio WOW Awards (Technical Production).

Are you a local entrepreneur? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at and you could be featured as a guest blogger.

Photos via Dale McDonald Photography


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