As students entered Dr. Luke Pittaway’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship class last Wednesday sporting backwards baseball caps, sweatshirts, and jeans, most people wouldn’t guess that a venture capitalist was the class’s guest speaker. David Pidwell, a two-time OHIO alumnus and partner at the investment firm Alloy Ventures, came to Campus to offer insight and critiques to student startup business ideas. “Having someone of David’s stature engage with the students really makes the exercise tangible,” said Pittaway. “Suddenly, they see the possibilities transfer from the classroom to the outside world. It’s quite powerful.”
If students were not impressed by his sale of multiple billion-dollar companies, Pidwell’s first anecdote provided some perspective when he shared a favorite story about two former MBA students. They had participated in a similar startup project at Stanford, and went on to found a company based on the ideas generated in the project. The name of the company may be familiar—Google. “You never know,” said Pidwell, “you could launch a “Google” and have great success.”
Great success is what one of the teams is hoping for. Alex Bradfish (’15), Thad Dixon (’15), Kelly Biederman (’15), Brady Cummings (’15), and Dylan Maloni (’16) pitched their idea for a device that integrates home systems wirelessly by using Wi-Fi to turn on the shower, start the coffee, and other home tasks. “It’s pretty sweet that [Pidwell] is here listening to our ideas,” said Dixon, “he really guided us through the process to set up the product. He made us think through every part of our plan.”
Mr. Pidwell holds a B.S. in electrical engineering (’69) and an M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering (‘70) from Ohio University. He continued his education at Stanford University and remains an instructor in the Stanford MBA program. In addition to his responsibilities as an educator and investor, Mr. Pidwell is the Inaugural Entrepreneurial Fellow for Ohio University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, and has founded several technology companies.