Lakewood Professor Teaches Entrepreneurship By Launching Kickstarter For Self-Designed Camp Stove

Lakewood resident and Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) professor Dan Cuffaro launched a Kickstarter project for a self-designed compact wood-burning camping stove as a tool to teach entrepreneurship to his students. 

Lakewood’s thriving entrepreneurship scene gained another entrant this summer when Lakewood resident and Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) professor Dan Cuffaro launched a Kickstarter project for a self-designed compact wood-burning camping stove. Cuffaro, who teaches industrial design, initiated the project as a real-world learning example for his students.

“I work with young designers to develop their knowledge and skills, while encouraging them to make a difference,” explained Cuffaro. “I used one of their projects — focused on creating a new product for an outdoor goods brand — as a prototyping example.”

That example is the patent-pending "nCamp Stove," a lightweight, compact camp stove that burns sticks and twigs. It is designed to eliminate weight for backpackers and campers by allowing them to use fuel easily found in the forest—wood. At the compact size of a medium-size paperback book, it can be easily carried. The work surface accommodates cooking utensils and cookware, and its aluminum and stainless steel construction makes the stove durable, stable and lightweight.

Kickstarter is a popular crowdfunding platform focused on launching creative projects and products. It allows entrepreneurs, artists, and designers to attract support and funding from the public, circumventing traditional avenues of investment.

Lakewood’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Mike Belsito, welcomed the nCamp Stove project and its value as a teaching tool.

"The best way to truly learn entrepreneurship is for students to see real-world projects come to life by putting it in front of real-world customers. Dan's Kickstarter project is not only a novel new product idea, but is the embodiment of how students should be taught entrepreneurship -- through action."

Belsito notes that Lakewood is home to all different types of entrepreneurs thanks to its diversity and proximity to entrepreneurial resources: creative spaces, Cleveland’s downtown, a high number of design professionals, and the City of Lakewood’s StartUp Lakewood program.

Cuffaro, who has pledged to forgo compensation from the nCamp Stove Kickstarter Campaign, said that it is important to him for several reasons.

“It enables people to enjoy the natural world, reduces waste relating to packaged fuel, and reduces reliance on fossil-derived fuels for cooking. Additionally, the project helps me provide an example to my students of entrepreneurship and leveraging the many product development resources now available,” he said.

People interested in backing the Kickstarter (as the author has) may do so until 6:30 p.m. on September 24. More information on the nCamp Stove, an explanatory video, and tools to sign up as a backer can be found at the Kickstarter website at this address:

Tom Bullock

Tom Bullock serves Lakewood residents as their at-Large representative on City Council. Share ideas or concerns with Tom at 216-395-7LWD (-7593) or

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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 5:46 PM, 09.13.2016