meet our members.
meet the members who call iSPI home.
University of Illinois Springfield, Center for State Policy and Leadership + Center for Entrepreneurship
The University of Illinois Springfield provides Social Innovation and Entrepreneurial support through the Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Center for Entrepreneurship. The Center for State Policy and Leadership provides guidance on the Social Innovation program's focus on the implementation of recommendations from its seminal document, Sangamon Success. Members receiving business incubation can meet for office hours with faculty from the Center for Entrepreneurship.
In order to create great roasted coffee, Custom Cup only selects coffee from superior growing regions around the world, looking for the best offerings possible. We source green (raw) coffee suppliers based on quality, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability. By taking pride in our coffee vendors, roasting process, and freshness, you can taste the difference of a roast to order coffee in every cup.
We specialize in identifying select single-origin coffee for our offerings. Single-origin coffee allows you to trace your coffee directly back to the region, farm, or co-op where it was grown. This accountability, along with additional information about climate, elevation, and production processes, allows you to understand more of the exhaustive trip that your coffee has completed. After trying different single origins, you will taste the difference in flavor that each offers.
Madison Regan, Just the Basics Catering
Just The Basics Catering is a licensed & insured mobile bar servicing Springfield, Illinois, and surrounding areas. Celebrate your special occasion while our bartenders serve your desired beverages. From parties, weddings, and everything in-between - our mobile bar comes dressed for the occasion. Let us bring the party to you while you celebrate care-free.
At Whimsy Tea Company we believe that tea is not just a beverage, it’s a lifestyle. It offers us an opportunity to calm our minds and spirits while nourishing our bodies.Whimsy Tea Company was founded in order to provide the highest quality of teas, herbal infusions, and tea-infused products to everyone with the utmost of convenience. We give our customers access to high quality, fair-trade teas and an entire range of health and beauty products featuring the absolute best the botanical world has to offer.
Rusty Jones, Hello Water
Did you know that 97% of Americans do not get their daily recommended amount of fiber?! Most are getting only about half of their daily amount. hellowater is trying to close that gap by creating a fun and fresh delivery system for fiber with inspiring flavored water that is both refreshing and delicious! Oh, and with ZERO sugar! Find a retailer near you and take the fiber challenge.
Kelly Gust, HR Full Circle
GO FULL CIRCLE. At HR Full Circle, we offer a range of strategic planning and talent optimization solutions to help your business go full circle: PLAN for change and growth, ACQUIRE new talent, ENGAGE your team for success, DEVELOP high potential leaders, and continuously EVOLVE for the future. If you want to think big about your business, contact us.
Megan Luckey + Khara Koffel
In November of 2014, Khara decided to make some lip balm for the lovely teachers and aides at the daycare center that her little boy attends, and roped Luckey into helping her (since she knew she would have more fun that way and because Luckey is like her twin from whom she was separated at birth). Two months later, they were making them to sell in a coffee shop. Two months after that? Etsy. A year later? Wholesale and vendor fairs. Fast forward to 2017 and their lip balm is sold in about 60 retail locations all over the country. Next stop? LIP BALM WORLD DOMINATION.
Rasha Said, Sensible Innovations
Sensible Innovations was created and is being brought to market by Rasha Said, the parent of a child who is visually impaired. Rasha created the AWARE concept out of a glaring need for better audio-information technology. She is dedicated to making AWARE a marquee wayfinding brand in the location-based SmartLandmark (iBeacon) services market, with the ultimate goal of creating a new paradigm in services for people who are visually impaired.
Before founding Sensible Innovations, Rasha was an actuarial and financial analyst with a background in mathematics and computer science. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in mathematics from the American University in Cairo and master’s degree (MBA) in finance from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
Kelly Hurst, Being Black at School
Being Black at School advocates for equity and safety for students of color and students whose experiences are traditionally underrepresented in school policies. A lifelong educator who knows that a broken system isn’t ever an option when it comes to educating students - BBAS trains districts, schools, and parents to find insights in readily-available data to make lasting changes that protect all students and provide a supportive, equal learning environment for all students
Kirk Kellus, Clean Impact LLC
Kirk and his business partner Jon have a long history of cleaning together and growing up Kirk and Jon always felt the forced responsibility to keep a clean space. The nerve of their parents for making them clean their rooms and do the dishes.
They first met during a weekend camping trip while joining a business fraternity. Kirk was the only one smart enough to bring a big ass tent and giant air mattress, and Jon was the only one slick enough to sneak in prohibited “adult beverages” obviously they became fast friends! Their destiny was sealed early the next morning (red-eyed and tired) as they cleaned up the huge mess from the previous night’s shenanigans.
After college they both entered the working world and quickly excelled into leadership positions, building and running multi-million dollar businesses. Over the past decade, they have managed projects for Fortune 100 Companies and trained hundreds of people along the way. But, the most rewarding job of all is taking care of their beautiful families.
With entrepreneurial mindsets, Kirk and Jon decided it was finally time to branch off on their own and start a family-oriented small business, with the mission of serving and helping people. Clean Impact will change the commercial cleaning game.
David Freeman, CJL Resources LLC
CJL Resources LLC, a Certified Business Enterprise Program (BEP) Vendor, will significantly benefit Prime Contractors contractual obligations in reaching the State of Illinois BEP goal and ensure that BEP vendors receive the necessary representation and guidance in contracting opportunities.
Danielle Hartman, Full Potential Career Coaching
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Rise up to your full potential. If you are ready to take the next step in your career, change careers or overcome career challenges, this is the place for you! This coaching is built for women who are ready to take charge of their careers and thrive!
Kasandra Heard, Funky Scentsations
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Elevate your at-home spa experience with bath bombs, body butter, and coming soon, candles by Funky Scentsations!
Evelyn Ivy, Lifestyle CPA
Lifestyle CPA takes a different approach to accounting because accounting is not only about debits and credits, dollars and cents but it’s the story of business. The goal of Lifestyle CPA is twofold:
At Lifestyle CPA, we strive to help entrepreneurs make sense of their numbers by helping entrepreneurs understand how their processes contribute to their bottom line; by optimizing their accounting system for both profitability and tax liabilities; and by making relevant suggestions to help meet both business and personal goals.
On the other hand, Lifestyle CPA aims to improve the life of accounting professionals by providing work flexibility.
Kristina Barbee, Ad Astra Wine Bar & Market
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Made for the witty, rebellious, and open-hearted, Ad Astra Wine Bar and Market is the most thoughtful and inclusive wine experience available in Springfield. Our bar and market includes everything you need to craft your own custom wine experience at our table or yours.
Valancia Joiner, Cupcake Blossom
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Cupcake Blossom is a home-based bakery set to launch in January of 2022. That specializes in creating cupcakes adorned with delectable buttercream to resemble floral arrangements known as cupcake bouquets.
Tom Raymond, The Cats' Pyjamas
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
A cat café is a café-style foster site for cats that people pay to socialize with and adopt. We’ll also provide prepackaged foods and allow guests to bring their own.
Anna Myszka, Klarhet Pottery
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Fully customizable at-home pottery night parties and offers classes for adults and children and makes handcrafted artisan ceramics.
Dr. Josh Renken, Practice Water
Practice Water helps dental practices become more profitable with strategies to improve the 3 critical practice growth factors:
Team: Practice Water enhances your dental team's ability to work together, so the practice runs more efficiently, increasing both profits and team happiness.
Patients: Practice Water shows you how to help patients value and choose care for themselves, so they keep coming back for treatment and get healthier over time.
Practice Profit: The Practice Water team trains you to understand the business side of your practice so you can reduce overhead and increase profits.
Great videos are more than great images. Great videos tell stories. Great videos move people. That’s why we exist. To connect people through the power of story. Josh is an Emmy-nominated video producer with a team that's dedicated to creating compelling corporate films, television commercials, and online marketing videos for businesses and causes.
I am also a certified Holy Yoga Instructor, R-HYI 225, and I hold online Christ-centered classes by donation and occasional retreats. I am certified in trauma-sensitive yoga. I have suffered from anxiety my entire life and have found amazing tools like yoga, supplements, and lights that help SO MUCH! I share all types of free resources through my email list (you really should sign up! Click the link in the top right corner.) private Facebook group and my “Made to Shine” YouTube playlist. I’d love for you to join me and start a conversation as we walk — or run or skip — this wellness path together.
I am a health journalist with a master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting. I share stories through the written word, yoga meditations, and speaking engagements. As a professional speaker, topics have included self-confidence, body image, health and wellness, vision casting, and holistic solutions for stress. But most importantly, I am a mom to three amazing children and blessed with the most supportive, loving husband. I would love to connect with you! Get on my email list and let’s journey in our quest for wellness together!
Locally designed and printed tees for everyone.
Follow the REVERIE.
Michael "Buzz" Buzinski, Buzzworthy Integrated Marketing
We help businesses find the best ROI from their marketing investment. We specialize in locally owned and operated businesses needing help with their digital presence and/or integrated mass media advertising with their digital marketing efforts.
Using only the highest quality and ethically sourced ingredients, Mr. Gixby's Soap For Humans creates a unique shower experience through their quality, handcrafted, love-in-every-bar, artisan soap.
Our mission is to handcraft beautiful, heirloom-quality furniture from 100+ year-old American barns and buildings. Our projects span from residential to commercial use in our purpose-built workshop in, Springfield, Illinois to preserve history for future generations to cherish across this great country.
Deepak Dhankher, Aggieland Software
Aggieland is a software development and IT consulting company that specializes in solving your problems with IT software solutions. Along with serving their employees and clients, the team aspires to achieve sustainable growth and deliver efficient business processes. Aggieland is a Springfield-based software development company that aims to contribute to local economic growth by improving their clients' business processes and strives to grow along with their clients and employees.
The mission of Strategic Client Solutions (SCS) is to deliver strategic solutions for our clients. SCS provides an array of client focused services to assist individuals and state governments with obtaining social security disability benefits, enhance state and local government approach to revenue potential. SCS improves our client’s performance, operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of plans for improvement. SCS services include; comprehensive consulting to help identify gaps and opportunities, project management, scrum/agile services and training advisory. SCS is committed to helping our clients exceed their goals.
John Maynerich, AIA, LEED AP, Associate, BLDD Architects
Like so many budding architects, John realized his love for architecture building things from Legos and other household items that would satisfy his imagination of the built environment. John comes from a large, loving family. He and his wife Margo have a large family of their own with five children. He enjoys sharing his love of art, architecture, and design with them and anyone he meets. John is a kid at heart. He has a good nature and loves inventing and playing games with family and friends. His philosophy is that laughter and camaraderie should be a part of everything we do.
Nichol Timms was born and raised right here in Springfield, IL. Nichol began singing at an early age in the youth gospel choir at church and later became a choir director. While still in school, Nichol competed in the District 186 All City vocal competition where she was awarded a Superior rating. Nichol later went on to become a member of the Southeast High School Sensations Show Choir. Nichol has been involved with many drama productions and has had major roles in the Joel PE King production of A Deeper Shade of Blue and the play A Letter to Heaven written and directed by Ms. Donna Jefferson. Both productions were held at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Nichol loves to sing and provide vocal coaching in all genres of music with a special interest in Neo-soul, Gospel, Gospel-Jazz, R & B and contemporary jazz. Nichol had the awesome opportunity to share the stage with the band Kapital Sound during their October 2018 and January 2019 show and looks forward to singing at your next event or helping you or the aspiring singer in your life level-up their skill and nail their next audition.
Jay Whitter, JEI Real Estate Investing
Jaguar Estates, Inc. is a private equity and asset management company based in Springfield, Illinois and operating across the nation. We are an active investor across a number of diversified strategies that focus on Our primary focus is acquiring real estate properties with potential equity to provide clients with long-dated cash flows in residential and commercial properties. Our goal is simple, to provide excellent customer service and add value to our client’s portfolio. We have offices in the Chicago Area and Miami Metro. Our team members are the experts in this area.
Crystal Boyd, 3 Cats and a Corgi
2022 CO.STARTERS Graduate
3 Cats & and a Corgi’s mission is to bring a smile to your face. To take a moment and be in the moment and just be happy.
We offer unique and fun pet products. Custom requests are encouraged! Get matching hair accessories , keychains or face masks to match your pet!
LeAnn Divjak + Kelly Sholtis,
The Red Wagon Craft Company
2019 & 2022 CO.STARTERS Graduates
Living life creatively.
Luis Rivera & Gabriela Loyola
Illinois Migrant Council
The Illinois Migrant Council or "IMC" is a community-based non-profit organization with the primary mission of promoting employment, education, health, housing and other opportunities for migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) and their families to achieve economic self-sufficiency and stability.
Whitney DeBerry Content Solutions
Are you looking for someone to help bridge the gap between your audience and your brand using social media? Whitney helps small businesses take control of the conversation using social media. She has experience working in the digital marketing space for nearly a decade, working for boutique and large agencies. Her prior work in the agency world spanned various roles and digital channels, including roles in management, operations, SEO, content strategy, analytics, social media, paid advertising, influencer marketing, brand development, and more! Whitney helps brands create visually compelling content that is unique to their audience, so you know that you’re putting out content that converts & connects with your ideal customer.
Olric Manthelot, Afro House Springfield
Afro House Springfield is an organization aiming to promote Afro Culture through local parties , community reach out , and other diverse events. Afro House Springfield also provides marketing, videography, and photography services to businesses and individuals across central Illinois.
Yves Doumen, The Motherland Gardens Community Project
The mission of the Motherland Gardens Community Project Inc., is to teach low income families and at-risk youth gardening skills, basic life skills, community beautification, good nutrition, volunteerism and empower them in becoming productive, self-sufficient citizens.
Kathleen Alcorn, ATOLLetc LLC
ATOLLetc LLC was established due to slow response from major industries and regulatory entities to emerging technologies. Because of this delay, components meant to provide public-safety have now opened an abyss for reactive laws and regulation. It is the mission of ATOLLetc LLC to protect the safety and soundness of the end-users, the public, and to ensure sustainable, ethical, and business-friendly regulatory environments.Kathleen is an international consultant, federal lobbyist, and civil servant. She established ATOLLetc LLC upon a diverse legislative, regulatory, and compliance background within government, NGOs, and the private sectors. Additional subject matter expertise includes emerging technologies, disruptive markets, and smart city futures. Kathleen is an advocate of Blockchain technology, specifically to protect the safety and soundness of the public, and she currently serves as the Deputy Mayor of the City of Springfield.
Grace Underfanger, Crimson Fox Design Co
2021 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Grace Underfranger, is the founder of Crimson Fox Design Co and Innovate Springfield Spring 2021 CO.STARTERS graduate! Her specialty lies within apparel merchandise design. Apparel and t-shirts represent memories. These memories will be worn, cherished for decades, and maybe even passed down. Businesses are a huge contributor to these memories. Honestly, it would mean the world to Grace to be a part of the memories your business creates within your community :).
Jonny Wallace, W Strategies
Jonny Wallace is the founder and principal at W Strategies, with a mission to build tools that solve problems. W Strategies, founded by an Army Veteran from the Prairie State, quickly scaled from an individual consultancy to a startup technology firm. They are family-owned and mission-driven. W has provided creative strategies for a range of clients from government, startups, celebrities, politicians, and authors. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, and the front pages of Reddit and YouTube. They build tools to help your business or organization grow.
Alex Rockford, The Market
2022 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Alex is a military veteran, a teacher, Spring 2022 CO.STARTERS graduate, and the founder of The Market, a dynamic wet bar experience where the point of sales system emulates the stock market and changes in real-time. Her concept also includes a silent disco where you can high-roll or low-ball the night away. We literally cannot wait for this concept to spring to life in Springfield!
Shannon Son, Anytime Snacks
2022 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Shannon is a University of Illinois Springfield student from Peoria, IL, Spring 2022 CO.STARTERS graduate, and the founder of Anytime Snacks, a health food brand consisting of vegan-friendly, high-protein snacks made without cane sugar or artificial ingredients.
Shannon loves Springfield because it introduced her to CO.STARTERS! We asked her what quote she lives by and she dropped iSPI member Kazim Abbot, "Do what you do and results will come."
Ronni Norton, Strategic Alliance
At Strategic Alliance, we understand the value of marketing. Digital Marketing is expansive, ever evolving and downright exciting! We are passionate about crafting a creative strategic marketing plan to advance your business mission. More often than not, we must implement multiple marketing strategies to achieve the best results for our clients. Among the many considerations for a marketing plan, thoughtful design plays a significant role and we make sure it’s tailored to your brand and vision.
Our mission is to assist you achieve your goals. We want to hear your definition of success so we can join along side!
Laura Briggs, The Freelance Coach
Laura teaches freelancers the strategies they need to get the paydays (and clients) they want. As a freelance writer turned coach, she loves showing part-time side hustlers and full-time independent contractors alike how to build a profitable freelance business they love. It’s her goal to reach and empower 50,000 freelancers to start, grow, and love their businesses built around their life. Since 2012, Laura has used her digital business to support her family, grow professionally, and serve hundreds of clients all over the world.
Elizabeth Wake, The Wakery
2022 CO.STARTERS Graduate
Elizabeth is the founder of The Wakery, a downtown late-night coffee shop and dry bar serving local coffee and teas, and non-alcoholic wine, beer, and mocktails. Elizabeth holds a bachelor's in International Development and is currently pursuing her Master's in Public Administration from @uisedu. She has over ten years of experience working with local farms, community development, nonprofits, food access, and sustainable agriculture. She has lived and worked in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Kenya. In 2021, she gave a TED talk titled "Are You Paying to Perpetuate Poverty?" In her free time, she loves to garden, raise backyard chickens, cook, and bake cakes and macarons