CYstarters Spotlight: Chloe Mettenbrink

By Lindsey Murray | ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

CYstarters Spotlight: A 14-part series highlighting student entrepreneurs pursuing their business ventures as part of the CYstarters 2024 summer cohort. Through this program, students have the unique opportunity to prioritize the development of their own startup or business idea. Each individual receives $6,500 and access to resources such as mentorship, networking opportunities, and educational sessions on entrepreneurship and business startup.

Chloe Mettenbrink: Turning Challenges into Innovations

As Chloe heads into her junior year at Iowa State University pursuing a degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Professional Fields, Arts and Communication, Social Sciences, and a minor in Design Studies, she’s on the verge of transforming a simple idea into a life-changing product for many. Her company, SockzUp, is developing an assistive tool designed to help individuals with limitations or disabilities put on and take off their socks with ease—a task that is simple for many but can be incredibly challenging for those with fine motor difficulties.

Chloe’s path to entrepreneurship started at a young age. Her grandparents on both sides were entrepreneurs, a legacy that quietly influenced her even when she didn’t initially envision herself following in their footsteps. As a child, Chloe’s first experience in business was making and selling Rainbow Loom bracelets at school—a venture that, although short-lived due to her principal’s intervention, proves the existence of her entrepreneurial spirit.

The inspiration for SockzUp came from a unique experience during Chloe’s high school years when she worked at an occupational therapy clinic. She witnessed the struggles children faced with something as simple as putting on and taking off socks. The available tools were inefficient and frustrating for the kids, a problem that stuck with Chloe. “I remember thinking, this is such a simple task, and it’s not simple for these kids. But it should be,” she recalls.

Fast forward to the spring of 2023, during a design entrepreneurship course at Iowa State, Chloe found herself reflecting on those experiences. Tasked with creating a business idea for a pitch competition as her final project, she revisited the concept of an improved assistive device for socks. This idea quickly took off, leading her to research existing solutions and ultimately, to develop her own.

With three prototypes already developed and plans for a fourth in the future, Chloe has made significant strides. A breakthrough came when SockzUp won funding from the Innovation Fund Challenge at Iowa State University, which provided the resources needed to transform her idea into a viable product. The support allowed her to build a solid team, including an industrial designer and two engineers, to bring her vision to life.


The next step in Chloe’s journey has been her acceptance into the CYstarters summer accelerator program. Her participation in the program has been extremely helpful in refining her business strategy. The customer discovery education sessions are helping her to identify her target market more specifically, and the opportunities she has to interact with her fellow cohort members always leave her with invaluable feedback and new ideas.

Chloe has undoubtedly run into some challenges along the way. Building a team was a significant hurdle when it came to coordinating students with busy class schedules. Currently, she is navigating the complex world of patents and legal requirements to protect her invention.

Her goals for the near future include figuring out the legalities of patenting SockzUp, connecting with a medical manufacturer to explore production possibilities, and designing a website along with other marketing materials to spread the word about her product. “I’m hopeful that by doing extensive customer discovery I can figure out the best ways to reach my target customers when marketing.”

As Chloe prepares to get her team back together this fall to work on the next prototype, she’s also looking forward to Demo Day with CYstarters cohort 9. This event will showcase the progress of each venture team, offering a glimpse into the future of their innovative projects. Be sure to join the Ames community in supporting these students and their businesses. The event is open to the public. Please register at

For those interested in supporting Chloe, connecting her with resources, or simply learning more about SockzUp, she can be contacted at