Bobcat Pitch Competition

On Thursday April 9, 2015 The Center for Entrepreneurship held the annual Bobcat Pitch Competition. The 24 entrepreneurial participants were required to produce a one page write up of their idea for judges and prepare for an 8 minute presentation with 5 minutes for questions.  The 12 finalists took the stage in the Phillips Auditorium standing before six judges to present one of their dreams. These entrepreneurs were competing for the 1st place prize of $1000, the 2nd place of $600, and the 3rd place of $400. The contestants presented PowerPoint presentations of their ideas that they have been developing in conjunction with mentors and advisers. After 12 wonderful presentations, Noah Rosenblatt’s DiaClyster won 1st place. This environmentally friendly solution deals with zebra mussels, which are pests in the Great Lakes area. We are so proud and impressed of those that participated, and we cannot wait to see what these students do next!

Here is a list of the participants and their ideas:

Contestants

OHIO students use Startup Weekend prize to develop subleasing app

A website designed by five Ohio University students that connects subleasers to interested renters won the fourth annual Startup Weekend competition held at the Ohio University Innovation Center on March 13.

During the 54-hour program, students pitch their start-up ideas, form teams around the most successful pitches, and spend the remaining time developing those business concepts.  At the end of the weekend winners are announced, with prize packages awarded to the top three groups. These prizes offer services to help the students further develop their businesses.

Subbit came in first place, with second place going to Smart Headband and third place to Job Flirt.

Ohio University students David Alexander, Phillip Cook, Drew Harper, Marcus Yeagle, and Yonry Zhu formed Subbit’s team.

“I think the most compelling case for the app is that all three of us — myself and my two coworkers — all need to find subleasers and we can’t,” said Zhu, a sophomore studying physics in the Honors Tutorial College. “But then you look at the Facebook Ohio University Class of 2016 page and it’s completely [filled with] people looking for subleasers and subleases.”

Yeagle, a junior studying computer science, said he came up with the idea after noticing how many flyers posted around campuses advertised for subleasers.

The second- and third-place winners also sought to fill gaps in the market. Smart Headband could check if an athlete might have a concussion at a fraction of the price of similar products.

Job Flirt offers an online job search ideally suited to millennials. It mirrors the format of a dating website: people enter their interests and credentials to be matched with possible jobs.

Startup Weekend was a crash course in entrepreneurship for all participants. Zhu said his biggest takeaway was learning how to convincingly pitch to investors. The entire group learned how to create business models, code, and start market validations in the short span of a weekend.

On the heels of its win, the Subbit team (now composed of Alexander, Cook, Yeagle, and Zhu) has moved into offices at the Ohio University Innovation Center, part of their prize package for winning first place.  The group will continue to develop Subbit and hopes to be working in Athens and Columbus by the end of the year. By 2017, Yeagle said Subbit aims to be in all the universities in Ohio.

Stacy Strauss, associate director of the Innovation Center, is impressed by the Subbit team members and looks forward to seeing their product develop.

She also has practical advice to offer. “Once they’ve mitigated any legal barriers, they need to conduct exhaustive market testing and promote their product in time for the new academic year,” she said of their ideal next step.

Subbit is also set to meet with a graphic design firm to get marketing and brand logos, another feature of the prize package.  Such components allow Startup Weekend winners to invest in their business before it makes direct returns.

Zhu said the most important part of the package, however, is advice from investors and people who have successfully created start-ups.  He also credits Startup Weekend’s atmosphere with encouraging him with take more initiative.

“It puts you in an environment where if you want to do something, the only thing stopping you is yourself,” Zhu said.

Article Written By: Hannah Koerner

Ohio University Entrepreneurs travel to Cleveland, explore business opportunities

Members of Ohio University Entrepreneurs — which connects OHIO students with ideas for businesses to university resources — got a close-up look at the start-up world during a weekend trip to Cleveland in March.

The group visited start-ups and business accelerators, programs that help businesses strategize for sustained long-term growth after graduating from business incubators.  One of these was Launch House, the first accelerator in the state of Ohio to focus on robotics  Others included Flashstarts, TTL Systems, LeanDog, and OSC Tech Lab, a co-working program that provides space and services to start-ups in Akron.

OUE members also had lunch with entrepreneurs, including Tim Bratz, president of real estate companies in Cleveland and Charleston, S.C.; Jay Fernandez, business services director to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program; Theresa Gorski, owner of Vision Yoga & Wellness; and Megan McKercher, owner of Heart & Home Adult Care Facility LLC.

Lori Bentz, a sophomore studying finance, arranged these meetings online. She used Meetup, a website that facilitates local collaboration, to find entrepreneurs interested in speaking with the group. Bentz is OUE’s current treasurer.

“It was good to see members really engage with what’s going on,” said Alex Harshaw, OUE president. He said the club’s members were “re-inspired” by the idea of entrepreneurship while in Cleveland.  “That was the objective of the club in the first place so that’s easily my favorite aspect of this trip,” he said.

In the future, the club plans to visit Columbus, Pittsburgh, and eventually Chicago, all while making connections with entrepreneurs at other colleges; Harshaw said the Cleveland trip allowed OUE to build a relationship with a similar group at Kent State University.

Ohio University Entrepreneurs meetings are held at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in RTECH 304. Applicants may attend their first meeting for free, but afterwards must pay a $20 membership fee.

“I encourage anyone who wants to follow their dreams outside of a traditional trail to join,” Harshaw said.

Article Written By: Hannah Koerner

Class Speaker: Geoff Morgan from Quidel

After announcements from Dr. Luke Pittaway, the class took turns introducing themselves to today’s guest speaker. Student with diverse educational interests, video production to civil engineers, have come together to explore entrepreneurship through developing startup ideas such as alternative grocery stores and innovate healthcare apps.

Geoff Morgan, VP and General Manager of Quidel (formerly Diagnostic Hybrids), stopped by to talk to this class of emerging entrepreneurs about his unique professional experience.

FullSizeRender (5)Morgan began with his background, graduating from Miami University (1986) accountancy and finance. He then went on to work with Price WaterHouse Coopers from 1987-1999. Later, Morgan worked at Blue Chip Broadcasting in Cincinnati, Ohio, and started working with Diagnostic Hybrids in 2003.

He clarified that although he was not an entrepreneur himself, he serves as an advisor to entrepreneurs. He said he has had the privilege of working with entrepreneurs David Scholl and Ross Love, Dr. Stephen Joffe (Pioneer in LASIK surgery), and Randy Michaels (transformed Jacor Communications into a $4.4 billion company).

He explains what an entrepreneur is through a quote from an HBS professor:

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

Morgan described the interesting background of Diagnostic Hybrids a biotech company founded in Appalachia. Spurred by the contributions of Dr. Wilfred Konneker who wrote a $250,000 check to start diagnostic hybrids in 1982, this company struggled for years before making a profit mainly surviving on Konneker’s contributions.

Geoff Morgan learned important lessons from Dave Scholl and Diagnostic Hybrids about being a startup:

  1. It’s really hard

Diagnostic Hybrids was producing what they thought the customer needed, but it wasn’t what they wanted. The company had zero sales in 25 years. Diagnostic Hybrids almost ran out of money.

  1. It takes special people to turn an idea into a reality

David Scholl rose as the visionary leader. Morgan, over the years, noticed two links between successful startups and great entrepreneurs:

Each one had a “doggedly persistent leader”

Each of those companies, by all objective measures, should have failed

  1. Realizing that the company has value carriers a lot of responsibility

A successful company brings a whole new set of challenges. As an entrepreneur, you have to ask yourself “Who do you trust to sustain and keep growing?” “How do we grow?”

Diagnostic Hybrids had to face the critical decision of all successful entrepreneurs: sell and get a multimillion dollar paycheck or reinvest and keep working? He went on to explain: “There comes a point in the lifecycle of a business that all successful entrepreneur’s face.  Let me try to explain if I was speaking as an entrepreneur.  ‘I have worked really hard and have created something that has real value and I know that I could have a big financial reward if I sold today.’  ‘Knowing the risks, challenges and extremely hard work of taking the Company to the next level, do we exit now or do we reinvest our time and career in growing the business to the next level in pursuit of something greater?’”

Diagnostic Hybrids evolved into a great, valuable company that was eventually sold to Quidel. This company was cultivated here in Athens, Ohio and has stayed true its roots.

The OU Entrepreneurs are on the move!

On March 19th, OUE set their sights on Cleveland for their second off-campus networking expedition. Following up from their previous trip to Cincinnati from the fall semester, ten of the organization’s entrepreneurial-minded professionals traveled to Cleveland with the intentions of connecting with resources, workshops and start-ups based in Ohio with time to spare for a visit to “the Q” for a Cleveland Cavaliers game. Lori Bentz, club treasurer and head organizer of the trip, created the two day agenda to do one thing: excite members about entrepreneurship in Ohio.

On Thursday, the OU Entrepreneurs met with entrepreneurial lobbyist and OU alumni Justin McCaulley, attended a start-up panel at the OSC TechLab, and participated in a persona workshop on-board LeanDog’s floating office with some new friends from Kent State University. Afterwards, the team retired for the day in a two-story home they reserved through AirBNB. Bright and early Friday morning, the OUE team was back on the road for a second panel at Flashstarts. The team was delayed after helping a man move his broken car off the road but managed to stay on schedule! Next they attended a luncheon with a select group of Greater Cleveland business owners before moving on to Launch House where they had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the in house venture experts after touring the facility. Finally, OUE ended their trip at the Quicken Loans stadium to watch LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Indiana Pacers 95-92! Here’s what a few of the participants had to say about their experience:

“It was an extraordinary experience being able to converse and connect with entrepreneurs in the tech field. They were supportive in their critiques of my ideas and inspired an increased pursuit of my business” –Chelunor Nwajei

“Meeting successful entrepreneurs and picking their brains in casual environments was really helpful. It gave me the push I needed to move forward with my own business plan. We spit that hot fire.” –Riley Cooper

“Phenomenal experience to meet with those who have seen success and know what it takes to get to that level. A must for anyone wanting to be successful” –Peter Shoup

According to Alex Kneier, the organization’s Vice President, this was the 2nd trip in the club’s “Triple-C” agenda. After visiting Cincinnati and Cleveland over the last two semesters, the entrepreneurs intend to visit Columbus in the fall and collaborate with Ohio State University’s Business Builders Club to strengthen the state-wide network of collegiate entrepreneurs.

 

Interested in getting involved? Send an e-mail to ouentreprenuer@gmail.com.

Flashstart Accelerator: Opportunities Available!

flashstarts

The Flashstarts Accelerator in Cleveland , Ohio is looking for startups! This is a 12 week program in the summer that works with developing startups. The startups have access to interns and support from world-class mentors. They are looking for software startups with a unique and problem based ideas. The best teams can receive up to $500,000 in additional funding and participate in a 9 month program. This is a great opportunity for potential startups. For more information on FlashStarts check out this video! Also, follow this link for information on the accelerator program.