Ignition entrepreneur event draws business owners to Columbia

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COLUMBIA - More than 250 business tycoons and entrepreneurial hopefuls gathered Friday at the Fifth Ignition Entrepreneurial summit to network and learn new strategies.

The event's co-producer, Keith Politte, said the gathering was designed to get ideas flowing.

"Ignition is about the start of that ‘aha' moment, when an idea turns into action and reality," Politte said.

Attendants said the Ignition Entrepreneurial summit is the perfect example of why Columbia has become a hotbed for business.

"We have such a great group of entrepreneurs to be honest, it's just good for us together and build a community here," President and Founder of Sports Formulator Matt Fischer said. Sports Formulator is a business that does "data driven sports predictions."

Fischer said another reason business owners set up shop in Columbia is the amount of tools available, including multiple think tanks.

"We have a ton of resources for a town of our size," Fischer said. "We have three colleges, we have a tremendous business community that's very supportive of entrepreneurship."

Everfin President J.C. Holmes said he wouldn't be as successful without people willing to help his data management company expand.

"I could name a hundred people who have been big influences in my life here in Columbia," Homes said. "That's why I came here and that's why I stay. It's those people that push me and other people to new levels and looking out for us. That's what matters most to me."

The event consisted of "speed networking" sessions in addition to panels on growth, funding and legal strategies.

Politte said the next phase of the summit is the Ignition Pitch Competition on April 10 at Columbia College. Winners can take away as much as $6000 in prizes.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to fix the spelling Keith Politte's last name.]