"Provide more startup resources, education and even facility space to underserved areas."

Future 50 Class of 2020

Matthew Yerkes

Executive director, Cultivate

About: Matthew Yerkes believes that for most people, entrepreneurship is the best opportunity available to change the trajectory of one’s life. That has been his personal experience as someone who founded a software-as-a-service company called Quick Square Consulting in 2001 and then sold it in 2015.

That is why Yerkes’ main gig now is to be a volunteer. He isn’t compensated for his work at Cultivate, which adds up to about 1,000 hours per year. The Grove City nonprofit Yerkes founded provides educational and advising support to small and emerging businesses. It hosts 20, but helps many more. Yerkes meets with about 100 entrepreneurs per year. 

And Cultivate is growing. In 2019, it received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that enabled it to expand to London to serve entrepreneurs in Madison County.

Yerkes has a bachelor of science degree in business management from Franklin University.

Outside of work: In addition to his volunteer work at Cultivate, Yerkes renovates historic commercial buildings. So far, he has completed five. He’s lived in Grove City for 26 years and enjoys being a part of the community. He and his wife have operated businesses in Grove City and have helped to start a small community church. 

50 ideas to move the region forward. Here's who else is in the Future 50 Class of 2020.

What does Columbus need to thrive? “Although Columbus has a booming startup space scene, Columbus needs to better meet demand for a variety of workspaces in all areas of the region to allow entrepreneurs to work close to where they live.”

Yerkes’ idea: “There are underserved groups of entrepreneurs in the region, in particular areas of Columbus that don’t present a financially lucrative business model for the coworking and business meeting space companies that often are a good place for entrepreneurs to launch. We need to provide more startup resources, education and even facility space to underserved areas.”

Stay up to date with the region’s thriving business scene. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.