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NKU Grad's Veggie Dip Honored Among "Best University Startups"

A graduate of Northern Kentucky University’s INKUBATOR program was named as one of the top 40 "Best University Startups 2017." Vegy Vida pitched their all-natural dip made for kids at the University Startups Demo Day and Conference in Washington, D.C.

Josh Young, an NKU alumnus, took Vegy Vida through the INKUBATOR as part of the Haile/US Bank College of Business’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As part of the program, INKUBATOR staff and mentors provided mentorship, guidance, access to capital, connections, resources, and a flexible office space to support the start-up.

Rodney D’Souza, the executive director and founder of the INKUBATOR, remembers that Young stood out as someone who not only identified a huge problem but also had the knowledge, expertise, and skills to move forward with a solution.

“That’s what we look for in the program. We don’t focus as much on the idea as the individual and his/her team. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Implementation and execution are what makes the difference,” said D’Souza. “Several startups fail because they don’t have a well vetted business model. Through the program, Josh and his team were forced to validate their business idea before investing any money.”

Since graduating, Young’s dogged determination and willingness to learn have helped Vegy Vida expand from local stores. Now, Wal-Mart and other national chains plan to carry the dip. Vegy Vida encourages children to eat their vegetables by changing the way bitter compounds in foods and beverages interact with the taste receptors in our mouths.

Dean Rebecca Porterfield of NKU’s Haile/US Bank College of Business said Vegy Vida’s story is what the INKUBATOR program is all about.

“The University Startups Conference in Washington, D.C. is a highly selective event that offers college startup businesses with an opportunity to present in front of industry and government leaders. Vegy Vida’s selection as one of the few companies to receive this honor is a true testament to the creativity and innovation of Josh and his team’s hard work and commitment to the business,” said Porterfield.

The University Startups Demo Day and Conference provides universities and their startups access and opportunities to discover, network and explore meaningful partnerships with corporate open innovation and venturing groups, venture capitalists, and angel investors.

The INKUBATOR just launched its 2017 class, selecting seven teams out of over 50 applicants.

-Staff report

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