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The Connection Between Coats, College Students and Entrepeneurship

What do college students and coats have to do with entrepreneurship? If you were to ask Derek Pacque, founder and CEO of CoatChex, he'd tell you quite a lot, actually. When Derek was still attending IU, Bloomington, he noticed a unique opportunity to utilize new technology to solve an age-old problem of waiting in line to check in and ultimately reclaim a coat in the local venues around campus. Essentially he came up with a solution that would eliminate the need to rely on paper tickets to check in a coat, the bottleneck at the end of the evening to reclaim your property, and the possibility of losing that ticket along with the $200 coat associated with it.

Derek's system of a portable kiosk that snaps a photo of you and your coat and stores it digitally with your contact information not only eliminates those hassles, but also allows club owners to send promotions and event updates to clients' smart phones. That in itself is a fantastic example of bringing innovation to the marketplace in the Hoosier state, but the way this story played out is even more telling of an emerging theme of collaborative business spirit in Indiana.

You may have seen some of this unfold on the ABC network series Shark Tank, where Pacque's idea won him an offer by the show's host to buy into the business plan. Derek turned down the offer because it involved too much of a controlling ownership and instead utilized the guidance and support of the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) to get the mentorship he needed to launch his new venture. ISBDC helped Derek with market research and analysis to develop his business plan and connected him with key business contacts that enabled CoatChex to become a reality, and ultimately expand from its home operation in Indianapolis to New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Learn More

It's an incredible example of how ISBDC is helping young entrepreneurs like Derek create the potential Hoosier Fortune 500 companies of tomorrow, and yet another reason Indiana is a state that works for business.

Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce

Eric Doden, IEDC President


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