About 40 vendors showcased new products and services, four won $1,000 prizes and one was named Star-Up of the Year June 13 at the 2024 Start-Up Fest, hosted by the Fresno Pacific University Center for Community Transformation.

The small business expo took place at FPU’s Warkentine Culture and Arts Center on the main university campus. Attendees connected with business owners, enjoyed local food truck cuisine and celebrated the four Entrepreneur of the Year awardees:

Tink Construction was named CCT’s Start-Up of the Year. Founder Ben Strickland was recognized for his exceptional commitment, outstanding growth and significant contribution to the entrepreneurial community, as well as his inspiring personal story of overcoming homelessness.

CCT invited Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Central Valley Women's Entrepreneur Center and the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative to bring the best entrepreneurs who have gone through their programs. A leader from each small business talked about their product or service.

Roots of the Start-Up Fest are in the Spark Tank Pitch Fest, a signature CCT program. Begun in 2013, Spark Tank invested more than $100,000 and helped catalyze more than 50 social businesses addressing issues in the community. The Valley’s only social enterprise pitch fest, Spark Tank boasted a start-up success rate double the national average. 

(FPU photo by Joe Castañeda)


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations