Since its inception in 2015, the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Women in Entrepreneurship program has been a success and filling a need here in the Valley. Since that time, the interest in the program from women entrepreneurs has only increased.
The WE program held is WE Launch Accelerator earlier this year, with participants giving their pitch for a chance at a $5,000 grant on June 5th. Mara Cunningham took home the prize.
Cunningham is the owner of Yo! Crash, the Youngstown areas first rage room. Yo! Crash provides a safe space for adults to have fun through the use of sledgehammers, bats and the like to destroy everyday devices and breakables. Though not yet open, Cunningham is targeting a September open date with her newly acquired location at the Eastwood Mall. Upon its open, Yo! Crash will be the first woman & minority-owned rage room, and only the 3rd rage room in the state of Ohio, a statistic both Cunningham and YBI are proud of.
For Cunningham, the WE Program was a huge value to her not just because of the educational components attached to it or the connections she’s made, but because of the one-on-one counseling she received. The best part of the program was “the help with the business plan over the 8 weeks” for Cunningham. Not having written a business plan before, Cunningham says “that help was super helpful.”
Carmella Williams, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at the Youngstown Business Incubator, said “Mara did exceptional research, knows her target market, and has a very good understanding of who her customers will be. Her likelihood of success is very high due to her exceptional business plan, and her pitch was further proof of that.”
When asked about this recent WE Launch cohort, Williams explained “this cohort had some very tough competition, and we were very proud to see the variety of entrepreneurs in that room. Be on the lookout, Youngstown!”
Cunningham is continuing to move forward with plans for Yo! Crash and had this to say to women aspiring to be an entrepreneur, “every idea you have, write it down, keep yourself organized, and go put yourself through YBI’s WE Create class. This was my starting point and Yo! Crash wouldn’t be this far along had it not been for WE Create.”