This isn't the first time Bryant University students and brothers Killian Lathrop '24 and Tiernan Lathrop '26 have exhibited at the annual Bryant Ventures Entrepreneurship Expo, but this is definitely their most impressive It was a show. As representatives of his Lifted Blends, his post-workout CBD recovery beverage business he runs with his two other brothers, the two delivered a confident presentation and an impressive series of supervised marketing materials.
Their polished performance, they say, is the result of hard work and practice. Each year, their business has grown a little bit, and now Lifted Blends is available for purchase online and in stores across New England, and they are close to closing a distribution agreement that will take the company further.
“I still have photos of me drawing can designs in colored pencils back in 2020. It’s almost strange to see those drawings come to life as an actual product,” Kilian reflects.
According to the brothers, the World's Fair was an important part of that journey. “Even two years ago, I was looking around at other businesses and thinking, ‘I can’t do that,’” Tiernan says. “And now we're here.”
At this year's expo, Bryant students presented startups and business ideas ranging from a selection of kits for a romantic evening to an eco-friendly clothing line. Hosted by Bryant Ventures, the startup and small business accelerator arm of the Bryant Chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), the event included students, faculty, alumni, and even potential investors to learn more about Bryant student entrepreneurs. We gathered excitedly to learn more.
“What young entrepreneurs need most is a place to start and the encouragement to make it happen.”
The annual expo is a manifestation of Bryant Ventures' mission statement, said Tyler Griffin '25, the organization's president. “It’s a big leap from having an idea to making it happen,” he says. “Ventures is here to help students get a feel for what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur, beyond the precepts and definitions in a book.”
Entrepreneurship has a space for everyone, Griffin notes, and Expo provides students with an opportunity to fine-tune and test their ideas. “Expo is like a mini trade show, but the big difference is that here everyone wants to support you and help you grow your business,” he says. “What young entrepreneurs need most is a place to start and the encouragement to make it happen.”
building a brand
Sometimes the hardest part when starting your own business is finding the missing piece that's a good fit for you and your ambitions. And no one knows that better than LEGO reseller Matthew Fiore ’25.
When Fiore was in eighth grade, he desperately wanted a job but was too young for most jobs. Summerfield's Bricks was born when he realized that millions of people around the world shared his lifelong love of Lego blocks.
His father and uncle helped Fiore set up an eBay store, where he sold pieces from his collection, and his business grew from there. Although he was able to improve his shipping process thanks to a Bryant University entrepreneurship grant, Fiore admits that as an online retailer, he's still learning how to market in person. This is where Expo comes into play. “Doing this puts you a little out of your comfort zone, but it's good because it gives you a chance to practice,” he says.
“We have a very strong and growing entrepreneurship program here, and just seeing us come together like this is pretty inspiring.”
The Expo is also an opportunity for Bryant students to try out new ideas. Zenon Corcio ’26, the son of a craft brewer, runs a workshop for a startup called NewTap Marketing, which helps breweries differentiate themselves in a crowded market. He says that being at the table at his expo allowed him to gather feedback on his concepts. “I want to know what people think of it and what I can change to make it more effective,” he says.
Corcio came to the event for the same reason he goes to Bryant Ventures meetings. “This is the best way to boost my business,” he says. Without the inspiration that Ventures provided, he says, “I probably wouldn't have made this presentation.”
Create a community
In addition to a space to share ideas, get advice, and practice presentations, the Expo allows Bryant's entrepreneurial spirit to come together as a community.
Fiore, who is also the founder of the student organization Bryant Builders, remembers attending the event for the first time during his freshman year. “I met a lot of different people and they gave me a lot of great ideas about things I could do, things I could pursue, and other people I could contact,” he recalls. His comfortable environment is one of the reasons he keeps coming back.
Nina Carlin '24, founder of The Fresh Kicks, a startup that sells three-in-one sneaker accessories, points out that the Expo can also be seen as a celebration. “We have a really strong and growing entrepreneurship program here, and just seeing us come together like this is pretty inspiring,” she says.
“Some proposals can be learned from, while others must be successful. Events like the expo help students learn from their experiences now and ensure they understand what's important later. Masu.”
Several alumni, many of them former CEOs and Bryant Ventures members themselves, returned to campus for the expo, offering encouragement and advice based on their experience on everything from business models to logos. Mitchell DePalo '27, founder of band management company Artist Republic, announced his idea for an app called “Post-It,” which uses artificial intelligence to allow business owners to add information to websites. I highly appreciated the conversation I had with Nick Cianfaglione '20. Restaurant Reservation Service How to Polish Your Restaurant Elevator Pitch.
DePalo said Cianfaglione gave him advice on how to express complex ideas in a simple and appealing way. “It was definitely really helpful,” he says.
Bradly Adams ’17, founder of the software company Aerogami and an Expo attendee, said alumni are giving back for the support they have received by sharing the lessons they have learned. “Some proposals you can learn from, and others you have to succeed,” he points out. “Events like the expo help students learn from their experiences now and ensure they understand what's important later.”