Alive & Unedited: Small Business Beanstalk's Wolf Starr

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The buy-local trend has come to Columbus. Wolf Starr just wants to set it on fire. The young entrepreneur behind Small Business Beanstalk has started a program to get local residents to support indie shops in Clintonville, the Short North, Campus and suburban neighborhoods. Thousands have already bought in.

I've always been an entrepreneur. I've had lots of different kinds of ventures - blue-collar, white-collar, restaurants, bars. Mentors brought me in and taught me how to do the entrepreneurial grind. I worked with different sets of partners and groups, just sort of connecting the dots between them.

When you're in ventures like that, you do a little bit of everything. I ran truck drivers for two years, 24/7, always on the road making sure they had everything they needed. Simultaneously, we were stocking beer for the Bogey Inn tournament party.

Being an entrepreneur, I like the fact that I can be completely creative. If I want to throw away the business plan, I can.

I'm extremely dyslexic. I see things differently than everybody else, but I've got a very traditionally brilliant creative team to back me. By seeing things differently, you question everything. In questioning everything, you find different solutions.

With Small Business Beanstalk, our main push is a loyalty-card program. The card is just a little keychain fob which you can show at any of these participating businesses and get a discount just for shopping locally.

The card was a project of evolution. It started one day heading to an Ohio State game and seeing everybody wearing their red shirts. I thought, "If all these individuals shopped local, then we could really help small business." Two weeks before the official launch, we completely rewrote the business plan.

Buying local keeps the money in our economy. It keeps the jobs, and it keeps the character of the area intact. If we don't support the downtowns and the strips, they're not going to exist anymore. Spending locally keeps about 58 percent of the profit in this area.

My favorite thing about Columbus is the diverse neighborhoods. They seem to get along and work well together, but there's a little bit of everything for you.

Cards started to land in November. We've got close to 200 businesses at this point. This week, we should have 5,000 cards distributed, with that number doubling in the next 30 days. You can get one for free online or at lots of our events and pick-up points.

We work 80 to 100 hours Monday through Saturday. I'm rarely in the same place for more than 45 minutes. I recently started a program where I have no-cell Sunday. I like making music and taking local adventures. My newest kick is learning to trapeze.

Three things I can't live without are CD101, my friends and partners, and community.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at

Age: 26

Day job: Founder, Small Business Beanstalk

Neighborhood: Clintonville

Hometown: Columbus

Alma mater: Ohio State


Playing Favorites

Favorite movie: "American Beauty" and "Bulworth" (tie)

Favorite TV show: "Lost"

Favorite author: My brother, Talcott Starr

Favorite book: "Tribes" by Seth Godin

Favorite band: Muse

Favorite song: "I Will Survive" by Cake

Favorite food: Shrimp

Favorite drink: Columbus Brewing Company Columbus IPA

Favorite color: Red