Letter from the President

May 20, 2014

Dear Foundation Friends,

As the academic year winds to a close, the collegiate entrepreneurship world is hopping with competitions and celebrations of student engagement and new ventures.   On April 1, Kent State University staged its first Blackstone LaunchPad Recognition Breakfast and Student Expo, demonstrating the high level of startup energy brewing on campus.  Ashland University hosted the annual Entrepreneurship Education Consortium ideaLabs competition on April 3, where an energetic team of Lake Erie College students took first place. The Cleveland Museum of Art atrium served as the dramatic venue for the JumpStart Annual Meeting and Expo on April 8, recognizing the success of student ventures through exhibits and the Charter One Foundation Student Business Idea Competition. 

I share these events as examples of just how far collegiate entrepreneurship has progressed over the last decade. During this time, Northeast Ohio has grown its program base from a few lone campuses with fledgling programs to a network of campuses that spans the region, teeming with activities on individual campuses and connected through collaborative programs.  The region has much to crow about, and also many more opportunities to champion as we continue to link student ventures with the regional ecosystem and the global economy. 

This spring, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation is celebrating a decade of work on the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also looking to the future and the development of new strategic directions to guide the next chapter of our work, advancing the Northeast Ohio ecosystem so students can pursue their promising ideas and dreams.

Deborah Hoover
Present & CEO

 

Entrepreneurship MOOC Appeals to International Audience

May 20, 2014

The Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), “Beyond Silicon Valley:  Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies”, launched April 28 to global success, with approximately 15,000 participants registered from 118 countries.  The majority of the participants are from outside of the United States.  So far, the videos for the MOOC have been translated into Spanish and Greek, with Vietnamese, French, Dutch, and Romanian translations in progress.   In addition to short video lectures, the MOOC includes opportunities each week for live engagement with featured entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

On May 8, Flashstarts, a Cleveland-based startup accelerator, hosted an interactive session for the segment of the MOOC focused on philanthropy's role in building entrepreneurial ecosystems.  CWRU professor Michael Goldberg (pictured right), who produced the MOOC, moderated the panel, fielding questions from far flung places--Greece, Belize, and Brazil, to name a few.  Panelists included Deborah Hoover, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation; Brad Whitehead, Fund for Our Economic Future; Michael Ehst, World Bank; Hoang Hiep, Finland-Vietnam Innovation Partnership Program; and David Levine, Wireless Environment.  About 25 people from Northeast Ohio attended the live event. Students posed wide-ranging questions about the optimal role for philanthropy, the role of entrepreneurship education, and the best ways to keep donors engaged over the long haul.  The live session augmented the weeklong discussion on philanthropy and entrepreneurship facilitated through discussion forum posts.

Michael Goldberg commented on the process of creating the MOOC:  “I felt strongly that the best way to tell the Northeast Ohio story of supporting the growth of entrepreneurship to a global audience was through a series of highly-produced, short video lectures that featured entrepreneurs and thought leaders.  The funding from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation allowed us to hire Northwater Partners, a leading video production company, and Catherine Levy, a former 60 Minutes producer, to put together high-quality video lectures, which are being extremely well-received by students from around the world.”

For more information or to sign up, click HERE.

Disease Diagnostic Group Takes Top Prize in Business Idea Competition

May 20, 2014

Disease Diagnostic Group won the top prize of $1,500 in the Charter One Foundation Student Business Idea Competition in April, edging out runners up, Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce and Sprav Water.    The startup was founded in 2012 by John Lewandowski, who was a student at Case Western Reserve University, and CWRU malaria researcher, Brian Grimberg, to develop a rapid diagnosis device for malaria. 

Disease Diagnostic Group’s Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM) portable device uses magnets and simple optics to pick up small amounts of the malaria parasite in a patient’s blood.  Inexpensive and fast, it promises to prevent many of the nearly one million unnecessary deaths caused by this preventable disease annually. 

The company has been winning competitions and support since its inception in 2012.  Most recently, the startup won the Cupid’s Cup Business Competition, held at the University of Maryland.  Lewandowski, now a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was awarded $75,000 and an additional $25,000 in exchange for a piece of the company.  He also won $5,000 after being voted audience favorite. 

Last summer, the company successfully raised $250,000 to start field trials of the device, which are now underway in India and Peru.  They are now at the end of the prototyping phase and looking to partner with a manufacturer to produce the product.

Lake Erie College Team Wins IdeaLabs Competition

May 20, 2014

On April 3, Ashland University served as the host site for the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium’s (EEC) 2014 ideaLabs regional competition.   EEC encourages student exploration of new, innovative ideas that enable them to create new enterprises or become entrepreneurs within existing organizations.   Undergraduate students who participate in the ideaLabs business competition pitch their best entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of experts. 

Students from eleven area colleges and universities competed in this year’s event:  Ashland University, Baldwin Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, Lorain County Community College, The University of Akron, and University of Mount Union.  Participants had won their respective campus competitions and the right to compete for prize money at the regional event. 

Teams composed of one to four individuals presented an array of business concepts to a panel of five judges, which included Peter Abramo, Russ Donda, Melanie Maloney, Toby Maloney, and Charles Stack.  The judges evaluated concepts that included an application software facilitating the exchange of digital business cards, a fitness facility catering to women between the ages of 17 and 29, and a phone software that has the potential to curb or eliminate images that might be used in online bullying.  After the presentations, the teams answered questions and received feedback from the judges on defining target markets, reducing start-ups costs, and refining messages. 

Three schools were awarded monetary prizes for their ideas.  First place, which came with a $5,000 prize, went to Lake Erie College’s Claire Arnold and Bonnie Payson (pictured), for a modified horse bridle that would facilitate greater animal comfort and rider control.  Phillip Metcalf of Ashland University won $3,000 for a car business that would cater to replacing the deteriorated wooden components of aging MG cars.  Third place and $1,000 went to Justin Lonis of Hiram College for the creation of a balance board that could aid in ankle rehabilitation and potentially assist in the diagnosis of concussions. 

 

EveryKey Comes Out on Top at LaunchTown Competition

May 20, 2014

Five teams of students competed at the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards on April 24 at The University of Akron.  LaunchTown was established in 2006 and helps college and university students of all majors launch winning ideas for creating new wealth and business ideas in the science, engineering, and biomedical fields.  Each year, the top team receives a $10,000 prize and a package of mentor and advising services.  Ultimately, the top honor this year was bestowed upon Case Western Reserve University’s team, EveryKey, founded by Chris Wentz.   The Director of CWRU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, Bob Sopko, served as EveryKey’s advisor.

EveryKey is a blue-tooth enabled wristband that unlocks password and access controlled devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and car doors.   The winning team was one of 30 submissions and bested four other finalists at the Entrepreneurship Awards 2014.  Those finalists included Grasshopper (Cleveland State University), ML Sensor (The University of Akron), Smart Gun Systems (The University of Akron), and Talwin (Cleveland State University).  Anthony Margida, CEO of the The Akron Global Business Accelerator and a LaunchTown judge, noted that the 2014 applicants were so impressive that five teams were invited to advance to the final stage of competition.  In years past, only four teams advanced to the finals to compete for the top award. 

To determine the winner, the LaunchTown judges examined the originality of the idea, marketability of the product, and student presentation. The 2014 LaunchTown judges included Tom Barratt (The Tom Barratt Companies), Brian Davis (The University of Akron), Mark Dobeck (Cleveland State University), Michael Fisch (Kent State University), Clay Rankin (North Coast Angel Fund), Barry Rosenbaum (Akron ARCHAngels), Bob Sopko (Case Western Reserve University), Ted Theofrastous (Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center), and Mark Weisman (CP Capital Partners, LLC).  The judges indicated that EveryKey had created a product that would satisfy a societal need and praised the business for being very market conscious.

Jeff Hoffman (pictured right), the founder of Priceline.com, served as the evening’s keynote speaker.  He spoke about the common thread that unites entrepreneurs; they are the people who see something that needs to be altered, and then define a solution because they are not content with the status quo.   Hoffman added, “Entrepreneurship is the way to shape the future of our world.”

A grant from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation finances the $10,000 award to the competition winner.  Previous winners have earned additional accolades and investments after participating in the event.  In 2010, the founders of CitizenGroove were finalists in Businessweek magazine’s Best Young Entrepreneurs under the age of 25 category.  The 2013 winner, Disease Diagnostic Group, has attracted more than $275,000 in non-equity awards since last year’s competition (see related article in this issue of eSpirit).

Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund to Include Other Schools

May 20, 2014

With a total of $250,000 in funding received from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Ohio Third Frontier program, the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF), started at The University of Akron, is providing venture capital to local startups, while providing an invaluable learning experience for all its partners.

NEOSVF is a nonprofit, student investment fund that is focused on investing in high-growth potential startups in the Northeast Ohio region.  While the program’s goal is to provide funding for local entrepreneurs, it also aims to provide an experiential learning opportunity for college students by teaching them the entrepreneurial startup and due diligence processes. 

NEOSVF provides business assessment and pre-seed funding at the $25,000 level for startup companies that pass an application process that includes an investment pitch. The funding is applied as a loan with minimal interest, and NEOSVF does not seek to acquire equity through its investments.  There is convertible debt on the loan, and all returned funds go back to the evergreen fund.  Companies that are not selected for funding receive extensive feedback and advice on how to better position the company for success. 

Participating partners are all graduate students pursuing study in the fields of law, business, science, engineering, finance, and the arts.  While they receive no financial compensation or course credits, they benefit from hands-on experience in the world of business, technology, and venture capitalism that enhances their formal graduate school training. 

Most recently NEOSVF approved an investment in Wastebits, an Akron waste management company, which plans to utilize funding to convert its paper-based format to an electronic database.  The fund has also invested in ADAP Nanotech and Lightning Grader/The Learning Egg. 

The University of Akron chapter of the NEOSVF is encouraging other area colleges and universities to begin campus chapters.  Kent State University will be starting a chapter in the fall and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) is planning to partner with KSU. 

For more information about the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund, contact John Myers at jmyers2@uakron.edu, or visit http://neosvf.weebly.com.

 

Student Resources: VentureBoard and HP LIFE

May 20, 2014

VentureBoard is an online platform that helps college students start new companies.  To help students stay on task and to help university advisors track student performance, VentureBoard integrates student discovery, ideation, and collaboration to allow universities to better support student-run companies.  By providing a robust, user-centric online platform, VentureBoard encourages students to become more engaged in their businesses and allows university staff to stay better connected and organized with student entrepreneurs. 

VentureBoard was founded by University of Maryland students Scott Block, Justine Searles, and Avi Eisenberger as a solution to the challenges they encountered while pursuing entrepreneurship in college.  VentureBoard is now available to additional universities, as of the spring 2014 semester.  For more information, visit http://ventureboard.co/.

HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE) is a global program that trains students, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to apply IT and business skills, enabling them to establish a business, build successful companies, and create jobs. HP LIFE provides face-to-face trainings, tools and e-Learning programs that address educational needs and improve and strengthen skills.

HP LIFE’s innovative and interactive training courses are based on a modular concept that links common business challenges and technology solutions. HP LIFE’s free, online training program helps users gain the real-life IT and business skills needed to start or grow a business, in their own time, at their own pace. The courses are interactive and full of information and practical exercises that will give users the skills to meet the business challenges they face. 

A number of courses are available in the categories of finance, marketing, operations and communication.  For more information, visit http://www.life-global.org/en.

Blackstone LaunchPad Programs Active on Northeast Ohio Campuses

May 20, 2014

Since Blackstone LaunchPad (BLP) hung out the welcome sign for entrepreneurs at four schools in Northeast Ohio in 2012, student participants have been active and engaged.   Well over 800 new ventures have been launched by nearly 2,000 participants in the BLP programs at Baldwin Wallace University (BWU), Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Kent State University (KSU), and Lorain County Community College (LCCC). 

BLP companies have embraced the NEO entrepreneurial ecosystem, participating in entrepreneurship events across the region. Two of the three finalists for the Charter One Foundation Student Business Idea Competition in April were BLP CWRU clients (Disease Diagnostics and Sprav Water). New Fuel, a BLP KSU client, was a favorite at the most recent TechPint event held at the Agora in Cleveland.

In addition to supporting individual students, the BLP program is changing the culture on campuses. This month, BLP at CWRU co-sponsored a day-long event on content marketing.   BLP LCCC has worked with the campus bookstore to make space available for their clients, such as Global Trendsetters, LLC, to test market retail products. BLP KSU is running a group for female CEOs as well as co-sponsoring a Mini Maker Faire on campus.    BLP BWU has launched an idea competition that has sparked campus creativity, with more than 100 ideas submitted.  Kara Gawelek (pictured), a senior, won for her "Semi-Automatic Pipet Tip Cartridge", a medical device.  Blackstone LaunchPad programs work across their campuses and across the region to give every student the opportunity to “make a job” rather than “take a job.”

Entrepreneurship Symposium in Massachusetts this June

May 20, 2014

The 3rd Annual Deshpande Symposium will be held in Lowell, Massachusetts this June.  The Deshpande Symposium is a gathering of like-minded practitioners with a focus on accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship across the university and college environment. The Symposium provides a venue for attendees to learn from each other’s experiences; to gain wider exposure for their ideas, successes and startups; and to collaborate on activities that increase innovation and entrepreneurship in their communities.

Keynote speakers will include Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan and co-Chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Professor Vladimir Bulovic, Practicing Entrepreneur and Associate Dean for Innovation at MIT.  Burton D. Morgan Foundation President and CEO, Deborah Hoover, will serve as a panelist for a discussion on women and entrepreneurship.  For more information, visit:  http://continuinged.uml.edu/deshpande/.

President's Letter

November 25, 2013

Dear Foundation Friends:

As I have followed collegiate entrepreneurship programs across our Northeast Ohio region in recent months, I have been struck by their increasing intersection with the mainstream elements of our thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

This issue of eSpirit will highlight stories that illustrate the maturation and deeper engagement of our collegiate ecosystem and its integration with the leading edge of entrepreneurship in our region.  For example, EDGE Fellows are helping companies take great ideas from concept to market.  Venture for America is placing talented graduates from top schools in startup environments through a groundbreaking program we expect to build upon in future years. The Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund is expanding its scope, inviting higher education institutions from across the region to participate.  JumpStart is busy planning a not-to-be-missed celebration of entrepreneurship next spring in which students will be invited to participate.  Our Blackstone LaunchPad programs are growing and thriving, connecting student entrepreneurs and their businesses to mentors and resources in our region. 

In this issue of eSpirit (entering its fourth year of publication), we introduce a new feature - a guest column, through which we will publish the observations of scholars and professionals working in the field of collegiate entrepreneurship.   We welcome Dr. Sergey Anokhin from Kent State University and thank him for leading the way as our inaugural guest columnist!

We hope you enjoy this latest edition of eSpirit! 

Deborah D. Hoover
President & CEO
 

Entrepreneurial Industries? You May Be Surprised…

November 25, 2013

By Guest Columnist, Dr. Sergey Anokhin - Associate Professor and Interim Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation at Kent State University

When it comes to choosing the right industry to enter, entrepreneurs have no shortage of advice. Magazines like Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Inc. often provide lists of industries that entrepreneurs should consider. Among those lists are top fastest-growing industries, top startup-friendly industries, top recession-proof industries and the like. Are those lists helpful to potential entrepreneurs? Perhaps. Yet they rarely give consistent advice, and are often based on anecdotal evidence rather than on strong research foundation. What is troubling is that industries recommended as attractive vary greatly from landscaping to energy to consulting to temporary staffing to food services to Internet and data services to home-based healthcare to fashion design; often, there seems to be no common ground behind the recommendations. Many of the lists pay attention to factors of marginal importance and do not address the all-important question: Would the industry I am thinking of provide me an easy way to find a safe and highly profitable business opportunity?

To sort out conflicting recommendations, researchers from Kent State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation and from Sweden’s CiiR, a leading Scandinavian entrepreneurship research think-tank, have conducted a large-scale scientific study of the high-quality business opportunities and business entry rates across multiple industries over several years. Rather than looking at vague parameters such as business attractiveness or startup friendliness, the researchers went straight to the central point of the entrepreneurial startup decision: They analyzed the availability of easy-to-grab opportunities and checked the startup rates (net of business failure) against those opportunities. What emerged may come as a surprise to the readers of Entrepreneur, Forbes, or Inc. magazines. Some of the industries that appear on their startup-friendly lists may be overly crowded by the entrepreneurs, may lack ready-to-grab opportunities, or both.

Here is what happens, according to the research. Although occasionally startups hit the news headlines by developing a radically new technology or offering a product that previously did not exist, most new businesses are very different from Google, Facebook, or Microsoft. Successful entrepreneurs often create “me-too” businesses to go after a low-hanging fruit – a profitable opportunity to replicate something done by others and make money. It turns out that some industries offer great opportunities for replication, and that entrepreneurs who start their businesses there by copying industry leaders may do much better than a typical industry firm. Other industries do not offer such opportunities because everybody’s effectiveness is roughly the same. Thus, it makes little sense replicating business leaders there, since at best you are going to get average results.

The study that has developed a technique for assessing easy-to-grab opportunities suggests that entrepreneurs may be wise to go after replicating business leaders in industries where high-potential opportunities exist and where such imitation is a guaranteed shortcut to lasting success. There, entrepreneurs are more likely to survive and have enough room for growth even if they do not come up with breakthrough technologies themselves. At the same time, choosing the wrong industry, where the very survival is problematic and typical returns are meager, may doom new businesses to dismal prospects. It matters not if startup costs are low there if you are likely to lose your investment. 

So how does the advice extended by business magazines stack up against the new research evidence? Food services, healthcare services, temporary staffing agencies – all of which have been suggested to be startup-friendly, recession proof or offering most promise to entrepreneurs – turn out to lack the opportunities required for entrepreneurs to succeed. The same is true for industries deemed fast-growing (such as certain transportation services and wholesale trade). At the same time, consulting services, information services, software publishing, advertising services offer much better opportunities for success through low-risk replication. So next time you look at the list of entrepreneur-friendly industries, go beyond analyzing startup costs or rates of growth – think instead of the opportunities to outdo a typical company by copying industry leaders.  

Students Get Experience with Startup Investing Through the NEO Student Venture Fund

November 25, 2013

Resourceful students from The University of Akron’s law and graduate business schools have expanded their campus initiative into a regional fund to make the experience available to other campuses and to access state funding for new tech-based ventures.

The NEO Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF) is called a “student venture fund” because it is student-managed, not because the funding specifically targets student ventures.  Invested capital from the fund is for promising new ventures from any source, including from faculty and the general public, as recommended by the student managers of the fund.  The fund is intended primarily to give advanced students real-life opportunities for conducting due diligence on new ventures and making seed capital investment recommendations for startups. 

Students from local campus chapters will have a chance to train in the process, then form their own local due diligence teams to vet ideas that come to them.  They will make recommendations for investment of any capital contributed to the regional fund by their respective schools. The final investment decisions, based on the student managers’ recommendations, are made by the fund’s board, composed of experienced entrepreneurs and venture investors.  Technology ventures that are approved for investment by the fund and that meet the eligibility requirements of the Ohio Third Frontier will get access to matching funds from the state.

For more information about participating in the NEOSVF, contact John Myers at jmyers2@uakron.edu.

Venture for America Fellowship Program Comes to Cleveland

November 25, 2013

Venture for America is a nonprofit organization that provides a fellowship program for young, talented grads who work for two years at emerging startups and early-stage companies in lower-cost cities.  Modeled after Teach for America, Venture for America has a goal for a substantial proportion of Fellows to become successful entrepreneurs and to become rooted in their assigned communities.  The purpose of the organization is job generation, and Venture for America aims to generate 100,000 new jobs by 2025. 

Operating since 2011, Venture for America places Fellows in Detroit, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Providence, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.  Venture for America’s first year in Cleveland was 2013.   Eight Fellows were placed at the following Cleveland companies:  Monarch Teaching Technologies, DecisionDesk, MakerGear, Cleveland Cavaliers, GenomOncology, Linestream, Boxcast, and Paragon Robotics.  The Fellows are graduates of Brown University, Case Western Reserve University, Cornell University, Duke University, Georgetown, the University of Virginia, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale University. 

Jason Tarre, Venture for America’s Startup Partnership Manager, commented, “We are excited about our opportunity in Northeast Ohio because of both the support of the local entrepreneurial community and the strength of the startups interested in bringing Fellows on board.  We’re looking forward to working in this region for years to come.”

Venture for America plans to expand in 2014 by placing more Fellows in Northeast Ohio.  In addition, Venture for America is planning to expand programming to include three new cities next year, and expects to add an additional 100 Fellows to join the 108 current Fellows in 2014.

EDGE Fellows Identify New Business Opportunities

November 25, 2013

Last summer, 16 students were selected to participate as Fellows in The Entrepreneur’s EDGE summer internship program.  The chosen graduate-level participants came from The University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, and Duke University.

Through this two-month paid summer internship, Fellows are paired with experienced business mentors to conduct feasibility analyses on new business ideas generated by small and mid-sized companies in Northeast Ohio.  Students leave the EDGE Fellows program with new opportunities and relationships that help them network with professionals throughout the region, all with the goal of keeping them in Northeast Ohio. 

Over the past four years, EDGE Fellows have reported an overwhelmingly positive experience with the program.  Additionally, 30% of projects studied turned into business revenue for the region within 2-3 years, and 70% of EDGE Fellows have chosen to stay and work with companies in Northeast Ohio following graduation. 

Participating companies benefit from this program as well.  This program allows companies to further assess new business ideas without monopolizing the time of key assets, and it provides market research and financial analysis competencies that a company may not have in-house.  Further, the students’ research helps direct companies toward or away from specific opportunities for a more targeted strategic approach, and takes ideas that might otherwise stagnate to the next level, or speeds the process along. 

The 16 Fellows from the 2013 class were selected from among 135, the largest pool of candidates yet.  In addition to funding from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, this program has been supported by the Knight Foundation and the Harvard Business School Club of Northeast Ohio.

Entrepreneurship Immersion Week Continues to Excite Students

November 25, 2013

The Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) held its 7th annual Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW) in August at Hiram College. 

This year, 46 students from 8 of the 11 member schools participated.  Students had a busy week attending lectures presented by EEC faculty and guest presenters, an open house, an EIW alumni event at Shaker LaunchHouse, several team building activities, and of course, the idea competition at week’s end. 

Nine teams, including a multi-school team, participated.  Ashland University took 1st place, Kent State University took 2nd place, and John Carroll University came in 3rd place.  Other participating schools were Case Western Reserve University, Hiram College, Baldwin Wallace University, Lake Erie College and the University of Mount Union.  Of the nine ideas presented, six are currently being pursued. 

Participants reported a positive experience, with one University of Mount Union student stating, “It’s amazing how much you can learn when you really set your mind to it.  We thought of an idea, developed a prototype, marketing plan, revenue streams and contacted professionals for advice and presented it to a panel of judges all within six days!”

EIW 2014 will be hosted by The University of Akron on August 3-8, 2014. 

Photo courtesy of Kasey Samuel Adams Photography

 

Blackstone LaunchPad Successful on Four NEO Campuses

November 25, 2013

The Northeast Ohio Blackstone LaunchPad initiative was started at Baldwin Wallace University (BWU), Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Kent State University (KSU), and Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in 2011 with $3.2 million in grants from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation.  All four Northeast Ohio BLP campuses report recent success and progress with the initiative. 

Students and faculty have responded enthusiastically to the program on every BLP campus.  CWRU recently held an event with Venture for America for students to meet Cleveland startup founders, hear from Venture for America Fellows, and watch live 3D printers.  The evening, which was supported by Innovator’s, Designer’s, and Entrepreneur’s Association (IDEA) and the Career Center, featured Dave Neundorfer, CEO of LineStream Technologies; Rick Pollack, Founder of MakerGear; Gordon Daily, Founder of BoxCast; and Manuel J. Glynias, Founder of GenomOncology.

BWU reports a marked interest from students, particularly freshmen who heard about BLP during orientation.  The school has held their interest by offering workshops and showcasing dynamic speakers, such as John Knific of DecisionDesk, and Matt Strayer of Widdle and Kudoala.  BWU also recently opened up BLP to alumni, signing up ten in the first few days. 

KSU’s freshmen are also showing a great deal of interest in BLP.  Additionally, student organizations brought together through targeted BLP events are now meeting up at one another’s meetings to develop new ideas and ventures among themselves.  Departments and programs throughout KSU are looking to BLP to gain ideas about becoming more intrapreneurial and efficient in their management and about how to replicate BLP’s success with other student collaborations.

In October, more than 60 students and eight departments/student organizations participated in a pitch competition, which will become an annual event.  KSU’s next big event, the BLP Film Festival will be held in December.  Students will have the opportunity to create a pitch video for their business that can be used on their website or in a crowdfunding campaign.  The videos will be viewed by the public and judged for best of show. 

KSU BLP client, Andrew Konya is a finalist for funding from the GLIDE innovation Fund for his venture reMesh.  Andrew went through venture coaching earlier this year. 

Lorain County Community College has had three companies launch in 2013.  A number of trends have been detected at LCCC, including the popularity of “green” businesses, gaming, and service businesses.  They are also seeing more non-traditional students participate in BLP. 

LCCC began FEBE3 (Fostering Entrepreneurial Business Education) in July 2013 in collaboration with the SBDC and GLIDE.  This weekly coffee hour includes networking, a presentation of a resource to help business owners, and an opportunity for an entrepreneur to present his/her business.  A number of activities are planned at LCCC for Global Entrepreneurship Week, including a workshop on crowdfunding, a student business competition, and an entrepreneurship fair.  In addition, Johnny Earl, the founder of Johnny Cupcakes, will be the keynote speaker.

Blackstone LaunchPad (BLP) is a national model for fostering entrepreneurship through higher education. Based on a successful program at the University of Miami, it encourages entrepreneurial thinking and activity among undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and alumni for the purpose of incubating a new generation of entrepreneurs who will contribute to the economic revitalization of distressed regions.

 

Student Competitions - Results and Previews

November 25, 2013

ideaLabs Competition to Be Held in Spring 2014

Ashland University will host the annual Entrepreneurship Education Consortium’s (EEC) ideaLabs event on April 3, 2014.  This regional business concept competition is a half day competition for winning individuals or teams from each member school’s campus competition.

Raider Tank Competition at Mount Union

The University of Mount Union held its Raider Tank competition on October 28.  Raider Tank, based on the hit television show Shark Tank, provides students with the opportunity to pitch their products or business ideas to a panel of judges, or “sharks.” 

This year, 17 students/teams participated, up from five when the competition was initiated two years ago. Earning first place were Josh Clemence, Wade Clark, and Shane Murphy for their idea for their company, Bumble Media, to generate e–commerce sales from video production by utilizing technology that follows web traffic from video to sale.  Ty Frank and Dean Seitz took second place for Away App, technology that automatically responds to texts and calls when the phone is off.  Joe Parker took third place for Grocery Grabber, a mobile application and website to pre-purchase groceries for timed pickup. 

John C. Soper Prize in Social Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University

John Carroll University held its inaugural John C. Soper Prize in Social Entrepreneurship on November 4.   Michael Gong and Ned Barnes took first place for their idea, Carroll Ballers. This program employs JCU students to do weekly outreach activities with teens in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center.  Begun in 2012, Carroll Ballers now number between 35-40 students each week. 

Hiram College Holds ideablitz! Competition

On November 7, Hiram College’s Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship held the ideablitz! idea competition, in which 35 students presented 14 original concepts.  Students were judged on idea/concept, market and industry, technology attributes (if applicable), competitive attributes and pricing, uniqueness, and quality of presentation. 

First place went to Nicola Pedretti for his social app, “What’s Good?”   Nicole Pueyo Svoboda took 2nd place for her medical app and computer program, “PreCheck.”  A team of seniors composed of Devota Fleetion, Michael Helco, Margaret Piccolo, Richard Simpson, and Andrew Torres took 3rd place for “Cleanliness Alert System,” an idea related to the self-service laundry industry.   The Center will host the ideabuild! Competition in the spring of 2014, which allows students to develop an idea even further.

Save the Date!

November 25, 2013


 

 

JumpStart will be hosting a gathering of Northeast Ohio innovators on April 7, 2014, at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  There will be opportunities for college students.  Stay tuned for more information!

 

Blackstone LaunchPad Opening at Case Western Reserve University

May 16, 2013

Ribbon Cutting

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) held a grand opening of its Blackstone LaunchPad program on April 23, paving the way for students in all majors to test their ideas and become entrepreneurs.

The Blackstone LaunchPad program emphasizes entrepreneurship as a viable career path and will provide CWRU students with the knowledge and guidance needed to get new companies off the ground. The program is open to all students, regardless of major, and utilizes local entrepreneurs as mentors. The Blackstone LaunchPad builds on a program developed at the University of Miami in 2008.

Nearly 200 people were in attendance to celebrate the launch of the program, including CWRU President Barbara Snyder; Bob Sopko, director of the CWRU LaunchPad; Burton D. Morgan Foundation President and CEO, Deborah Hoover; Blackstone Charitable Foundation Chair Joan Solotar; and Ohio Board of Regents Chair Vinny Gupta.

“By encouraging student entrepreneurs, Blackstone LaunchPad can contribute to overall vitality and competitiveness. It brings forward student-led ventures that can grow out of the University to find the funding, mentors, and talent they need to continue to develop,” said Regent Gupta. “Eventually, some of these companies will generate revenue, create jobs and have a very real impact- via their innovative solutions and products, as well as their economic contributions – on our region, our state, and our country.”

Ribbon Cutting In 2011, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced their commitment of $3.2 million over a three-year period to Blackstone LaunchPad centers on the campuses of CWRU, Kent State University, Lorain County Community College, and Baldwin Wallace University, to foster entrepreneurship and job growth in Northeast Ohio.

More than 40 students have already registered with the Blackstone LaunchPad at CWRU, and 16 others are in the process of exploring their business ideas. “Since the program began here last summer at the other schools, over 760 students have signed up for the program with 412 submitting business proposals,” said Joan Solotar of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “These are amazing numbers over such a short time frame. We look forward to seeing what Case Western will produce over the next three years.”

Hiram Student Takes First Place at ideaLabs Competition

May 16, 2013

Hiram Student

On March 21, the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) held the 2013 ideaLabs regional competition at Kent State University. Students from ten area colleges and universities competed: Ashland University, Baldwin Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, The University of Akron, and University of Mount Union. Students had won their respective campus competitions and the right to compete for prize money at the regional ideaLabs contest.

First place, which came with a $5,000 prize, was earned by Hiram College Senior Bryan Nemire, an environmental studies and biology major, for his “Citrus Icer” idea, which is a novel product for the agricultural industry. The Citrus Icer is a solution that uses a biological protein, grown from plant-based bacteria, to hasten water or moisture freezing at 32 degrees. The solution will be sprayed on fruit, quickly freezing the outside of the fruit, but protecting the fruit itself. It is anticipated that the Citrus Icer will be used by growers to protect fruit from frost and deep cold.

Kevin Met of Cleveland State University took second place ($3,000) for his “Matchstick” idea, and the third place prize of $1,000 went to Chimadika Okoye and Marie Brosovich of Case Western Reserve University for their “Swipe-U-Lock” idea.

Undergraduate students who participate in the ideaLabs business competition pitch their best entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of experts. All participants are encouraged to consider three key questions: Is there a market? Do the financials make sense? What resources are necessary?

The sponsor of the competition, EEC, is a consortium of 11 colleges and universities that encourage student exploration of new, innovative ideas in their quest to either create new enterprises or become entrepreneurs within existing organizations.

Candace Klein, SoMoLend’s Founder and CEO, Addresses Educators

May 16, 2013

Candace Klein

Candace Klein, founder and CEO of two successful startup companies, discussed crowdfunding with a group of educators at the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council (JSHECC) in April.

Klein is a practicing attorney focusing on corporate law and has a background in lobbying. She launched Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) in 2010 as a non-profit microfinance organization focusing on educating and financing female-owned startup companies in Cincinnati. BGV began serving Cleveland in 2011, and is looking at expanding to Akron this coming fall.

In 2011, Klein launched SoMoLend, a for profit venture, to help small businesses not being served by traditional funding obtain the money they need to launch and maintain their operations. Klein’s concept is to launch peer-to-peer lending across the state of Ohio, and nationwide, as soon as legislation permits. She is actively working with legislators to enable this new lending platform. The online venture will connect business borrowers seeking loans with investors looking to make a return on their investment. Klein anticipates rolling out the full site in 2014.

The JSHECC is an organized collaborative comprised of 22 Northeast Ohio-based higher education institutions and community members. The council’s objective is to create a communication network connecting the higher education institutions to their communities, JumpStart and the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial community.

To learn more about crowdfunding, visit http://www.score.org/workshops/crowdfunding-alternative-source-financing, to participate in a one-hour webinar presented by Candace Klein and Kate Drane, Entrepreneur Engagement Lead at Indiegogo.

Judges Award Disease Diagnosis Startup

May 16, 2013

Launch town

Four teams of graduate students competed for a $10,000 prize at the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards on April 17 at The University of Akron. Ultimately, it was Disease Diagnostic Group of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) that nabbed top honors for a methodology and device that has the potential to save many lives each year by quickly, accurately, and inexpensively diagnosing malaria. The Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM) device is a hand-held apparatus that detects the magnetic substance that malaria parasites release when digesting red blood cells.

The winning team consisted of brothers John R. Lewandowski and Mark E. Lewandowski, and Dr. Brian Grimberg, a CWRU professor who served as advisor. In addition to the cash prize, the team will have access to $30,000 worth of mentoring and advisory services. Having beaten eight other teams earlier in the semi-finals, the winning team bested three other finalists at the Entrepreneurship Awards 2013. Those finalists included Hole Patch, LLC, and NanoHarv Technologies, also from Case Western Reserve University, and ThermElectricity from The University of Akron.

Teams from Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland State University and Youngstown State University also competed in earlier rounds of the competition.

Jim Tressel, Vice President for Strategic Engagement at The University of Akron, served as the evening’s keynote speaker. John Knific, CEO and cofounder of DecisionDesk, as well as the 2009 LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Award Winner, was the special guest speaker.

More than $100,000 in cash and prizes has been awarded through the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards since the competition was established in 2006. The purpose of the LaunchTown Awards is to inspire all students and to provide a forum to experience what it is like to become an entrepreneur. LaunchTown is meant to engage students from all fields of study and allow them to develop skills that will help them create the new businesses of tomorrow.

Raider Tank Competition a Hit at University of Mount Union

May 16, 2013

Raider Tank

On March 26, the University of Mount Union’s entrepreneurship program held a contest for entrepreneurs on campus.  Raider Tank, based on the hit television show Shark Tank, provided students with the opportunity to pitch their products or business ideas to a panel of judges, or “sharks.” The sharks were all Mount Union graduates with entrepreneurial backgrounds. Five individuals and one team competed for cash prizes.

“It was a great evening,” said Michael Kachilla, assistant professor of management, and academic director of entrepreneurship at Mount Union. “Students were not required to participate, so all the students were working on their own, moving their ideas forward. I was really impressed with their ability to balance school work, but also move an idea closer to setting it up as a business.”

The first prize winner was Aaron DeAngelis of Euclid, Ohio, who presented a mobile phone application called Easy A, a tool to help high school students learn physics.  The app, which would cost approximately $25, would “revolutionize education” by allowing students to learn a challenging subject through a fun and interactive means, rather than by traditional textbook methods.  DeAngelis also won the prize for best technological concept. 

Second place was awarded to the marketing duo, Travis Irwin of Sebring, Ohio and Josh Clemence of Akron, Ohio, for their company Bumble Media, a digital media service for those needing assistance with video marketing.

Third place – a tie – went to Andy Ruffing of Republic, Ohio, for his website beefjockey.com, and to Brandon Mathie from Louisville, Ohio for his iCase, an optic lens to help sight-impaired people see their phones better.

Students from Denison University and Kent State University Visit Foundation

May 16, 2013

Ribbon Cutting

In April, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation staff members and Trustee, Marty Erbaugh, enjoyed visits from Kent State University students and Denison University students.

Several students from Denison University’s Venture Philanthropy Club visited the Foundation on April 10.  Denison’s Venture Philanthropy Club reviews and awards grants to nonprofit agencies in Licking County. Students were very interested in comparing their processes with grantmaking processes used by the Foundation. They asked insightful questions and vetted ideas on how to improve their methods.

On April 23, a large contingent of students from KSU’s Entrepreneurial Experience class pitched their fledgling businesses and business concepts to an audience of BDMF staff, Foundation Trustee Marty Erbaugh, and members of KSU faculty and administration.  The students said they gained valuable experience in quickly and persuasively sharing their ideas and fielding questions in an unfamiliar environment.

President’s Letter

May 16, 2013

Dear Foundation Friends,

As the school year comes to a close, we have been making the rounds observing idea competitions and programs that demonstrate the increasing level of sophistication of our Northeast Ohio collegiate entrepreneurship ecosystem.

This spring, the finalists in the annual ideaLabs and LaunchTown competitions delivered pitches that rivaled those of entrepreneurs with years of experience. Blackstone LaunchPad programs have, in less than a year, supported the startup of more than 400 student ventures. Our regional team of Blackstone LaunchPad volunteer venture coaches is up and running. The Entrepreneurship Education Consortium now boasts 11 member institutions, pooling their expertise and resources to spur students to success. This year, the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council hosted meetings on wide-ranging topics including incubators, crowdfunding, the Babson Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Project, and commercialization.

One of the most rewarding developments of this past year has been the chance to see recently-graduated entrepreneurs invest their time and talents in our up-and-coming, younger entrepreneurs. The dream of a robust and transformational collegiate ecosystem conceived more than half a dozen years ago is now a reality. To all the people who have helped by serving as mentors, judges, consultants, muses, investors, and champions for our aspiring Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs, we extend our hearty thanks!

Deborah D. Hoover

President & CEO

Blackstone LaunchPad Programs Open at Area Institutions

November 2, 2012

Ribbon Cutting

It has been one short year since the exciting launch event at Case Western Reserve University when The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation proudly announced the coming of the Blackstone LaunchPad program to Northeast Ohio. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of The Blackstone Group’s Initial Public Offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Now, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis.

The Blackstone LaunchPad initiative, made possible by $3.2 million in grants from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, brings new venture assessment, mentoring, and networking services to students and alumni at Kent State University, Baldwin Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, and Lorain County Community College. According to LCCC President Roy Church, “Innovation is the key to reaching our goals. Blackstone LaunchPad is a wonderful complement to our resources.” Blackstone LaunchPad replicates the model developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated over 80 start-up ventures, approximately 200 new jobs and engaged over 2,000 students.

Baldwin Wallace University held its BLP opening event on September 6 in the auditorium at The Center for Innovation & Growth. Close to 150 supporters of the university and its entrepreneurship programs attended the event. The launch event also included the unveiling of the BW web site for students to sign up for the program. “BW places a high value on teaching all of our students to think and function like entrepreneurs," said BW President Robert C. Helmer. "Skills such as measured risk-taking and network-building can help turn an innovative idea into a new company or help an existing employer grow. We encourage as many students as possible to take advantage of the opportunity that Blackstone LaunchPad provides." The opening speaker featured Brian Peters, who spoke about creating a value proposition in order to develop a path to an idea.

In its first month, the BW Blackstone LaunchPad program has started to see great success. Fifty-two students have filled out profiles, 21 ventures have been submitted, and 21 venture assessment meetings have been held. Early ideas have been wide-ranging, while participating students have come from all over campus and a variety of academic disciplines. The university has also held four successful Blackstone LaunchPad events. BW alums and entrepreneurs Micki Tubbs (CEO and co-founder of FIT Technologies) and Paul Benner (founder of Cleveland Brew Shop) presented to groups of 12 and 18, respectively. A pair of “Introduction to Blackstone LaunchPad” events also drew attendees. Two more events will be held by the end of October.

BW’s Blackstone LaunchPad will have new offices on the lower level of Strosacker Hall, the Student Union. Mike Nock, BLP Program Director, commented, “Blackstone LaunchPad provides students with a unique opportunity to test their ideas when their enthusiasm is high and the obstacles are low. Entrepreneurship as a viable career option is a powerful concept for students considering an uncertain and complex occupational future.”

Lorain County Community College began its soft launch at the end of June to gear up for a series of grand opening events later in the summer. Program Manager Janice Lapina is enthusiastic about the response so far, “With over 135 profiles to date, it is exciting to see the need for this program on our campus.” During the week of August 27, LCCC had a wide variety of festivities for students to promote and celebrate the opening of Blackstone LaunchPad. The marketing for the opening focused on, “have a kernel of an idea; get your ideas popping today.” Thus, LCCC’s BLP staff started the week giving away freshly popped popcorn! There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception mid-week, followed by an open house with free prizes. The week ended by distributing popsicles at the campus wide picnic featuring local entrepreneurs and an iPad drawing. Blackstone LaunchPad formally celebrated its launch in a grand opening ceremony on September 7, which offered attendees the chance to tour the new facility and learn more about what Blackstone LaunchPad offers. Program Director Lee Kolczun commented, “We’re encouraged by the initial response to Blackstone LaunchPad. This is an indication that our students have a lot of creative ideas. We are excited to be able to help them determine their next steps.”

Blackstone Charitable Foundation Executive Director Amy Stursberg attended the launches at BW and LCCC and commented, “These campuses recognize that their students represent the economic future of the region, but they need support right now to build their professional networks, and hone their ideas and skills. Blackstone LaunchPad introduces top-notch, professional support to any student driven to turn an idea into a company and build a career as an entrepreneur.”

Even before the official opening on September 28, Blackstone LaunchPad’s prominent location in the Kent State University Student Center had generated significant interest which continues to grow with 169 students registered and 101 exploring business ideas. Melissa Scaglione, who is launching a new venture to help aspiring dancers commented, “Kent State and the Blackstone LaunchPad program are helping to make my idea a reality. I would not have been able to launch it without the support of so many people here at Kent. To be able to start my own company at 19 and have it be successful is amazing.” According to Julie Messing, Executive Director of BLP at Kent, the venture ideas submitted so far range across a wide range of industries from fashion, to high-tech, to service businesses, and the students come from a variety of academic disciplines. She commented that, by adding the program to its array of entrepreneurship offerings for students, Blackstone LaunchPad is “strengthening the entrepreneurial culture at Kent State.” Further, it is Kent’s goal to show students that “starting a new venture is an attainable career path.”

Blackstone Charitable Foundation board member Erik Lisher noted that its foundation, in reviewing potential projects, specifically looks for regions where talent is abundant, where there are strong local partners like The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and where real engagement exists between the public and private sectors on economic development. He commented, “The need here is real, the entrepreneurial tradition is imbedded in the culture and the community is focused on this issue with a laser-like intensity. With these important pre-conditions in place, Blackstone LaunchPad will build on what Kent State and the other schools have already begun. We can train Northeast Ohio’s next generation of entrepreneurs and in so doing supercharge this region’s economy for years to come.” 

Case Western Reserve University is currently in the midst of developing its location on campus and hiring a new program director. It expects to hold its formal launch after the first of the year.

Blackstone LaunchPad is a truly unique program for Northeast Ohio because it will link Kent State, Baldwin Wallace, Lorain County Community College and Case Western Reserve University not only to each other but to Blackstone LaunchPad programs around the country. These regions will share resources and best practices to support student entrepreneurs and contribute to a revitalized economy in this area and beyond.

Deborah D. Hoover, President & CEO of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, stated, “Blackstone LaunchPad at KSU and the other three schools will help our region continue its transformation into a talent-rich destination and a powerful incubator for entrepreneurs. The program builds on the collegiate entrepreneurial strength that already exists in our region by adding a robust, experiential, campus-wide program.”

New Director of Entrepreneurship at The College of Wooster

November 2, 2012

The College of Wooster recently hired Peter Abramo to head up the college’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Dr. Abramo brings a combination of academic credentials and entrepreneurship experience to this leadership role.

Most recently, Dr. Abramo held the Barnabus Endowed Lectureship at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he designed and taught classes on small business management, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. While there, he created a new minor for Entrepreneurship, established a speaker series, led student business plan competition teams, and served as faculty advisor to the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team and to the Management Club – applying an interdisciplinary and inclusive approach to academic and co-curricular activities.

Dr. Abramo is already feeling at home at The College of Wooster, stating “I am excited to bring my entrepreneurial background to The College of Wooster where I can promote entrepreneurship across the campus. I believe that along with helping students pursue their ideas to build sustainable new enterprises around creative ideas and innovative business models, we can help them appreciate the value of entrepreneurship as a way of thinking about issues and solving problems. My office can be a focal point for transforming theory into practice.”

A seasoned entrepreneur, Dr. Abramo has experience in the commercialization of pharmaceuticals and in technology-based company incubation. In 2005, Dr. Abramo co-founded MEAPA, LLC, a professional development company that trains small business owners and entrepreneurs across the United States and the Philippines.

Dr. Abramo earned a B.A. from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. from Villanova University. He was awarded a Ph.D. from Temple University in American and European Diplomatic and Military History.

The Foundation welcomes Dr. Abramo and wishes him success in his new position!

Entrepreneurship Minor New at the University of Mount Union

November 2, 2012

With the approval of a new entrepreneurship minor for the 2012-13 academic year, the University of Mount Union (UMU) is providing students with a terrific new academic opportunity. Additionally, with seed funding from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, UMU has expanded co-curricular entrepreneurship programming on campus, so that students in multiple disciplines can access both academic and experiential opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship.

In 2011-12, UMU planned and executed two elevator pitch/business concept competitions, which included cash awards. Students representing a variety of disciplines competed and were judged by area business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Professor Mike Kachilla is serving as Academic Director of the Entrepreneurship Program, and Matt Stinson is Program Director. They have already begun to accelerate their involvement in the region’s collegiate entrepreneurship ecosystem and expect to expand it as their student participation grows.

In the 2012-13 academic year, the university will offer faculty training to embed entrepreneurship in a wide variety of courses. UMU is also partnering with the Technology Accelerator Alliance, an incubator located in Alliance, as well as other area entrepreneurs, to provide interested students with assistance and mentoring.

Peter Rea Departure

November 2, 2012

Peter Rea, the Burton D. Morgan Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies at Baldwin Wallace University, founding director of the Center for Innovation & Growth (CIG), program director of BWU’s NEOCEP initiative, and long-time friend and colleague of the Foundation, is the new Vice President of Integrity and Ethics | Enterprise Wide at Parker Hannifin Corporation. While we at The Burton D. Morgan Foundation were sad to see him leave Baldwin Wallace University, we are excited for Peter to experience a wonderful new adventure with Parker Hannifin, a company with which he has interacted extensively through his work at CIG.

Peter mentioned recently that he plans to stay connected to BWU and to help transition the new CIG director, once he or she is hired, to the new position. In the meantime, he will be teaching a section of the Student Fellows course at the university and looks forward to remaining open to ways in which he can be involved in the collegiate entrepreneurship community in Northeast Ohio. The Foundation echoes the following statement from BWU, “Peter is taking the work that he’s done with values and virtues, and sharing it around the world. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and we’re extremely happy for him!” In the meantime, Dr. Alan Kolp, another long-time colleague of the Foundation, is serving as CIG Interim Director and a search is underway for a new director.

Area Incubators Pitch Their Services for College Entrepreneurs

November 2, 2012

Representatives from ten business incubators and accelerators across Northeast Ohio came together on September 11 to present to members of the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council (JSHECC) about services each provides for start-ups by college students and their specific areas of focus and expertise. A special update on the Board of Regents’ Technology Transfer & Commercialization Task Force was also on the agenda. Presentations were made by the following venture-support organizations:

Several of these offer education programs designed to build entrepreneurial and business skills and get ventures launched; others offer free advisory services, space to brainstorm, or potential to access start-up capital. Council representatives came away with an even better understanding of the resources available in the region to guide their students in refining a business idea, producing a prototype, or understanding intellectual property rights.

In addition to the presentations about incubator services, JSECC members heard an update from Vinny Gupta, who serves on the Ohio Board of Regents and chairs its Innovation, Technology Transfer & Commercialization Task Force. (Foundation president Deb Hoover serves on the Academia subcommittee of the task force.) Regent Gupta described the task force’s recommendations for addressing the gap between the substantial capabilities of the state’s higher education institutions and the limited translation of these capabilities into a high level of technology commercialization. A copy of the task force’s latest report can be found here.

Formed in 2009, the JSECC is an organized collaboration of 22 Northeast Ohio-based higher education institutions and community members. The council’s objective is to create a communication network that connects higher education institutions to their communities, JumpStart, and the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial network. The council meets on a bimonthly basis and is chaired by Deborah Hoover, President and CEO of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and administered by Cathy Belk, Chief Relationship Officer of JumpStart.

John Carroll University Expands Entrepreneurship Program

November 2, 2012

At John Carroll University, students are given many opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial talents. On the academic side, they can select an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship minor designed to support majors both in the arts and sciences and business. Underwritten by a grant from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the curriculum for the minor was specifically designed by faculty in the arts and sciences and business to address the latest thinking in entrepreneurship. As a result, courses incrementally build upon one another. Since its start four years ago, the minor has experienced steady growth with a total of 382 students enrolling last year. In the minor, students work with faculty and entrepreneurs who are members of the university’s Entrepreneurs’ Association, a peer group of business owners who are the principal shareholders of private companies. “We are excited about the opportunity to develop units of entrepreneurship in existing arts and sciences courses at John Carroll as we think this approach will add another dimension to our program and the awareness of entrepreneurial thinking on our campus,” said Jackie Schmidt, Interim Director of the entrepreneurship minor and Professor of Communication at John Carroll.

Additional opportunities are provided to students through the Edward M. Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship. The Center sponsors students in two regional programs, Entrepreneurship Immersion Week and Idea Lab. In addition to these regional programs held in conjunction with the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, the Center provides students two unique learning opportunities in the Student Hatchery and Reality Bridge. The Student Hatchery is a designated workspace within the Center for students with budding ventures. They may apply to the Hatchery and if accepted, they will be matched with a business owner mentor based on their idea. After completing the Hatchery requirements, the mentor may nominate the student for Reality Bridge. According to Mark Hauserman, Director of the Muldoon Center, “The success of the Student Hatchery and Reality Bridge allows the Center to fund students as they progress to an incubator. This is a great way to allow them to join the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Northeast Ohio.”

The John Carroll entrepreneurship program was recently rated 18th nationally and 1st in Ohio for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program by the Bloomberg Businessweek. This marks the second consecutive year JCU has made the list.

In Brief...

November 2, 2012

Students in Start-up Mode

Last August, when most college students were winding down their summer in anticipation of returning to school, 45 students on nine teams were operating at full speed for Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW). At the end of the week, the team from Kent State  University came out on top with their idea “QuickOR ,” a system for improving the efficiency and accuracy of operating room preparation over the current manual card method. Second place went to the team from Case Western Reserve for their “Beyond Blocks” concept, a clip-on device for LEGO blocks that allows integration of electronic capacity. The third-place team, from John Carroll University, won for their idea “Spring Splint,” a reusable gel with magnetic capabilities that forms a temporary cast for broken bones.

Sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, a group of nine area colleges and universities, EIW gives students an intensive venture start-up experience. This year’s program was hosted on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. The week began with a game of “Human Tetris” (see photo) to get the problem-solving and teamwork skills going, then continued with brainstorming, mentoring, and practice that culminated in a business idea competition judged by area entrepreneurs and investors. The top three teams receive seed money to help continue development of their ventures.


Oberlin Launches New Program

Oberlin College recently announced that it is starting a new entrepreneurship venture on campus – LaunchU. The initiative, part of Oberlin’s Creativity & Leadership program, is an intensive program designed to accelerate the development and launch of Oberlin entrepreneurs. Alumni and current students with compelling entrepreneurial ideas and ventures – individually or in teams – are invited to apply. Participants will be selected through a competitive screening process.

The program includes a boot camp and accelerator culminating in a public pitch competition. During the accelerator process, each team will benefit from entrepreneurship coaching, create an investor-ready pitch deck, and compete in a final pitch competition before a panel of angel investors. Most importantly, the program provides a forum in which aspiring entrepreneurs can refine their ideas, develop important entrepreneurial skills, network with alumni and area entrepreneurs, and compete for investment opportunities, services, and mentorship, as well as venture-development cash prizes.

Interested investors are also invited to participate in the program. For more information on how to invest or to offer mentorship or in-kind services, please email creativity@oberlin.edu.


Summer Interns Network for Success

This past summer, JumpStart and the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) hosted an evening event, “Entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio 101,” for college students participating in summer internships throughout Northeast Ohio. Held at JumpStart’s downtown Cleveland offices, this event provided interns with the opportunity to network while learning about the region’s robust entrepreneurship ecosystem. Nearly 60 students from the NOCHE Entrepreneurial Internship Program, Summer on the Cuyahoga, iCleveland, and the Purdue Entrepreneurial Interns program attended, along with interns working this summer at several of the region’s venture-support organizations.

Representatives from BioEnterprise, The Beta Space at MAGNET, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, JumpStart, and Shaker LaunchHouse were on hand to discuss services available to young entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio. A post-program survey affirmed that students rated the event worthwhile and engaging.

President's Message

November 2, 2012

Dear Foundation Friends,

We have traveled a great distance in the world of entrepreneurship education since the days when Burt Morgan in the late 1970’s attempted to create his own personalized entrepreneurship PhD program through Union Graduate School, a consortium program headquartered on the campus of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The program was dubbed “The University without Walls” and offered a low-residency educational experience for non-traditional students—a precursor to modern-day distance learning. Burt was never able to complete his dream of a graduate degree in entrepreneurship after Union declared bankruptcy in 1978, although the program reorganized and reopened in the mid 1980’s.

In his Learning Agreement with Union, he noted that his goal would be “to broaden and organize my knowledge and skills in the entrepreneurial section of business and develop my ability to communicate more freely with academicians.” During the intervening decades since Burt explored this radical idea, entrepreneurship education has entered the mainstream and indeed, become part of the campus fabric at nearly every institution of higher learning in Northeast Ohio.

Students are able to explore entrepreneurship both inside and outside the classroom through business and idea competitions, immersion programs, project-based classes, prototyping labs, accelerators, student venture funds, internships, mentoring, start-up weekends, idea generation sessions, Blackstone LaunchPad and so on. Interwoven with this dizzying array of campus activities is the backdrop of the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem offering layer upon layer of other opportunities to support students and their entrepreneurial aspirations.

As students dive into this smorgasbord of opportunities this fall, I am struck by how much the world of collegiate entrepreneurship has evolved just in the last five years. As the academic year takes off, we have much to celebrate and much to anticipate as students’ ideas take flight!

Deborah D. Hoover

President & CEO

Blackstone LaunchPad Gearing Up on Area Campuses

May 1, 2012

Following the announcement last November that The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and the University of Miami were working together to bring the Blackstone LaunchPad program to Northeast Ohio, we have been collaborating with our partner schools in the region to implement the program in the fall of this year.

We are pleased to share that Baldwin-Wallace College has recently named Michael C. Nock founding Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad program at the College. Mr. Nock was the founder and CEO for 22 years of Nock Inc., a publisher of customized nightly newsletters for portfolio managers. “Mike started a company when he was 25.  He knows firsthand that it is possible to launch a new venture at an early age,” said Peter Rea, the Burton D. Morgan Chair for Entrepreneurial Studies and director of Baldwin-Wallace College’s Center for Innovation and Growth. “We are incubating students to convert their passion into entrepreneurial opportunities.  Mike’s insights about business ownership, approachable style, and coaching ability will help students realize entrepreneurship is a viable career choice.” Mr. Nock, a Bay Village resident, graduated from St. Ignatius High School and Williams College. “I have personally experienced the thrills and trials of starting a business,” said Mr. Nock. “I’m enthusiastic about the chance to help and mentor B-W students and alumni as they move along the path toward starting their own businesses.”

At Lorain County Community College (LCCC), Terri Burgess Sandu has been named Director of the Entrepreneurship Innovation Institute (EII) and Executive Director for Workforce Development. Ms. Sandu comes to LCCC with more than 25 years of experience in the community services and economic development industries. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of Hard Hatted Women. “We are pleased to have Ms. Sandu join LCCC. Her expertise in workforce and community development will play a key role as EII and LCCC continue to move forward,” LCCC President Dr. Roy A. Church said. Housed on the LCCC campus, EII works to develop the region’s workforce, facilitate business growth, and foster entrepreneurship. Ms. Sandu will oversee implementation of the Blackstone LaunchPad program, while Program Manager Janice Lapina will manage the program’s day-to-day operations.

Kent State University is in the process of hiring its Blackstone LaunchPad director. The University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (CEBI) has launched the school’s Blackstone LaunchPad Web site. Our fourth Blackstone LaunchPad collegiate partner, Case Western Reserve University, is also in progress. Stay tuned for more information!

LaunchHouse Accelerator Program Takes Off

May 1, 2012

Representatives from Shaker LaunchHouse (LH) attended the February meeting of the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council at the Foundation’s offices, and shared details of an exciting upcoming program: the LaunchHouse Accelerator. LH is the first and only incubator in Northeast Ohio chosen to receive the ONE Fund grant from the Ohio Third Frontier program. Over the past three years, LaunchHouse has succeeded in seeding, mentoring, and helping 30 companies to obtain follow-on funding. It plans to enhance those efforts with a new group of software and web-based tech entrepreneurs who will participate in the new LH Accelerator program this year.

Applications for the 12-week program are now being accepted; the deadline is July 1. The LaunchHouse Accelerator program itself kicks off September 3. LaunchHouse will invest a total of up to $25,000 in each of ten entrepreneurial teams (consisting of two or more co-founders) in software and web-based technology. This pre-seed funding was made possible by the $200,000 ONE Fund grant and a $50,000 matching grant from Cleveland-based Clarion Direct Investment.

From the applications submitted, only 30 teams will be selected to attend the “Techie Unconference.” During the Unconference, they will pitch to a selection panel of industry experts, investors, and potential mentors. Details will be available through the LH website later this spring. From this group of 30, ten entrepreneurial teams will be selected to spend 12 weeks honing their business concepts and structuring their companies in order to be able to attract further funding.

The LH Accelerator will match seasoned, industry-specific mentors with the ten teams. These mentors will guide the teams as they experience the four-phase Accelerator program. The completion of each phase is a key milestone that helps the teams to build significant elements of their business model and investor dashboard. The LH Accelerator drives business success through hands-on, pertinent experiences, which takes teams from idea to validation over the course of 12 weeks. The process is specifically designed to help entrepreneurs build strong businesses and to improve the likelihood of securing follow on funding.

“Showcase Day” marks the culmination of the LH Accelerator program. At Showcase Day, program graduates will demonstrate a proof of concept to investors, potential customers, other entrepreneurs, and a public eager to learn about new business growth in the region.

“Located within and focused on Northeast Ohio, the LH Accelerator plans to bring entrepreneurs from across the country to a region with enormous educational, financial, and interpersonal assets, an affordable cost of living and a welcoming population,” said LaunchHouse Managing Partner Todd Goldstein.  LaunchHouse will provide these ten entrepreneurial teams with low-cost housing and a playful work environment, in which they can plan to stay and grow their businesses, if they so choose.

“Entrepreneurial boot camp programs, like the Ohio ONE Fund program, are the most exciting frontier in venture capital today,” said Clarion’s CEO and President Morris H. Wheeler. “True to the roots and philosophy of Clarion’s founder, Cleveland investing legend Morton Cohen, Clarion’s grant will support entrepreneurs without any strings attached, allowing them the freedom to pursue their vision.”

For more information and to submit an application to the LH Accelerator, visit www.launchhouse.com.

“The Beta Space” Resource for Entrepreneurs Launches this Month

May 1, 2012

This spring The Incubator at MAGNET is launching a new regional resource called The Beta Space, which will provide a “landing space” for college/graduate entrepreneurs once they have outgrown their dorm rooms or have graduated from college. The Beta Space will present these young entrepreneurs with regional access to a portfolio of financial, legal, and marketing service providers who will offer pro bono consultations in their subject-matter areas. The first entrepreneurs to gain access to The Beta Space will be companies currently housed in The Incubator at MAGNET, with a summer roll-out planned for all of the region’s manufacturing-oriented technology entrepreneurs.

The Beta Space’s primary audience is student entrepreneurs. Though many students are comfortable starting businesses while on campus, once they graduate they can feel somewhat adrift and unconnected. They may have heard about all this great assistance available in the region, but they’re not quite sure how to get plugged in. The Beta Space is a safe landing zone for those student and graduate entrepreneurs. The space will be free and will help connect young entrepreneurs not only with the onsite service providers, but also the larger JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network. Consistent with MAGNET’s mission and the focus of The Incubator at MAGNET, The Beta Space will be targeted at student entrepreneurs whose start-up is product- or engineering-focused.

The service provider portion of The Beta Space is a regional resource aimed primarily at technology entrepreneurs and small- to medium-sized businesses. The needs of these two groups are much different from those of mature, established companies. All service providers participating in the Beta Space service program have been vetted to ensure they are comfortable working with entrepreneurial clients.

Financial, legal, and marketing service providers who are interested in participating in The Beta Space should be comfortable working with entrepreneurs and small- to medium-sized businesses. If your company is interested is being a service provider, please contact Dave Crain, Director of Entrepreneurial Services, The Incubator at MAGNET, at dave.crain@magnetwork.org.

MAGNET, the service providers already involved, regional funders, and others are committed to making The Beta Space program a success and a value-added resource in the growing regional support network for entrepreneurs. For more information on The Beta Space, please visit MAGNET’s Web site, as well as MAGNET’s “Manufacturing Success” blog.

“The Pothole Patch” Wins 2012 ideaLabs Competition

May 1, 2012

Hiram College hosted the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium’s (EEC) ideaLabs 2012 competition in March, where budding entrepreneurs from Hiram and nine other Ohio colleges pitched their ideas for new businesses.

EEC’s ideaLabs is a business idea competition where undergraduates pitch their best entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of experts. The competition encourages students from all disciplines to think about new venture ideas, applying the feasibility study methodology and answering three key questions: Is there a market? Do the financials make sense? What resources are necessary? The winners took home cash prizes and high hopes that their big ideas would translate into big money down the road:

First Place - $5,000: “The Pothole Patch” - Nicholas Barron, Case Western Reserve University

Second Place - $3,000: “EvenPlayingField.com” - James Basar and Amanda Mass, Baldwin-Wallace College

Third Place - $1,000: “Fresh Scent Surgical Masks” - Breana Jacobs and Chad Radke, Kent State University

The competition’s judges, including Burton D. Morgan Foundation Trustee Marty Erbaugh, were impressed with the quality of all the presentations.

“In my work, I see many presentations, often from entrepreneurs with more than 20 years of industry experience,” said John Dearborn, an ideaLabs judge and President of JumpStart, a nonprofit supporting Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs. “The student participants and their coaches should be proud. They clearly put in a great deal of effort and their presentations were as good or better than any I have seen.”

Undergraduate students or teams of students from Ashland University, Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, The University of Akron, and University of Mount Union competed.

The competition was sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC), a consortium of nine schools that encourages student exploration of new, innovative ideas in their quest to either create new enterprises or become entrepreneurs within existing organizations.

University of Akron Team Takes LaunchTown Prize

May 1, 2012

A team of four University of Akron students took top prize at the sixth annual LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards, held in April. LaunchTown helps college and university students of all majors launch winning ideas for creating new wealth and business ideas in the science, engineering, and biomedical fields. The winning team receives a $10,000 cash prize, plus an additional package of mentor and advisory services valued at $20,000. The winning group – UA’s “Telkesis” team of graduate and undergraduate students Jason King, Laura Vondeak, Esra Cipa, and Margaret Brass – created unique spinal implants for enhanced patient care.

The team developed a minimal shock set screw as an implant that promises to be safer, more flexible and more effective for surgical use in patients with back problems needing spinal stabilization. The implant is made from a titanium alloy. Telkesis has already applied for a patent.

The LaunchTown judges look at originality of the idea, marketability, and presentation. “We want science- and technology-based ideas from teams using graduate and undergraduate students,” explained Anthony Margida, a judge and chairman of LaunchTown Leadership. “We look for ideas that can take root in Northeast Ohio. Our goal is also to keep some of these brightest of students right here in our communities.” Other 2012 LaunchTown judges included Tom Barratt (LaunchTown), Brian Davis (Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron), Mark Dobeck (Cleveland State University), Michael Hripko (Youngstown State University), Clay Rankin (North Coast Angel Fund), Barry Rosenbaum (University of Akron Research Foundation), and Gary Wnek (Case Western Reserve University).

The LaunchTown field of competitors included 20 applicants from regional colleges and universities including Case Western Reserve, Cleveland State, Kent State, and Youngstown State. That field was eventually narrowed to four finalists, who presented to the judges at the April event:

DSC Dynamics (University of Akron): Sunandini Chopra, Rostyslav Dolog, and Ying Shi. DSC Dynamics developed biodegradable, shaped memory sutures made from cornstarch and coconut oil that contract with body heat and tighten naturally following surgery.

Innovators (Cleveland State University): Andrew Bardwell, Thavy Walters, JoLynne Marsh, Juliana Hanea, and Anca Obid. The Innovators created “Car Brain,” an app for smart phones that, among other features, oversees a user’s operation of an automobile to alert the user of what needs to be repaired and where to get it fixed.

Zips Audio (University of Akron): Kyle Wilson, John Kota, Dezarae Holman, and Eric Matas. Zips Audio created a direct digital amplifier for loudspeakers. The implemented digital circuit replaces costly amplifiers and uses less power.

A grant from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation provides the $10,000 prize money. Our congratulations to Telkesis, the LaunchTown finalists, and all students who competed.

In Brief...

May 1, 2012

2012 NOCHE Entrepreneurial Internship Program Now Accepting Applications

The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) is inviting applications for the 2012 Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP). The program places college students with regional entrepreneurial companies through a partnership with The Burton D. Morgan Foundation. EIP-paid internships are available for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in learning about entrepreneurship through an exciting hands-on experiential learning opportunity this summer. In 2011, 42 students completed EIP internships at 18 Northeast Ohio companies; check out what some of last year’s interns had to say about their experiences.

Participating students work in a variety of industries and job functions, with potential opportunities beyond the summer. Last year, a number of students continued their internships past the end of August, and some were hired as full-time employees. Students make important contributions to the start-up companies with which they are paired, gaining valuable professional experience while helping an entrepreneurial endeavor to succeed.

It is easy to apply: Visit NOCHE’s NEOintern Web site, create a student profile, upload your resume, search for “EIP,” and click “Apply.”


Technology Transfer and Commercialization Task Force Update

The Ohio Board of Regents is required by law to produce an annual conditions report in order to keep the Ohio legislature well informed about the state of higher education. This year the report will provide an in-depth look at research commercialization, including ways that the system can be strengthened and improved. The nine-member Board of Regents has assembled a Technology Transfer and Commercialization Task Force to produce this report, and Regent Vinod Gupta has been charged with chairing this Task Force. The members include representatives of industry, government, philanthropy, higher education, venture development organizations, and financial institutions.

In April the Task Force reviewed reports prepared by its six subcommittees: Academia, Capital, Government, Industry, Technology, and Workforce. Foundation President Deborah D. Hoover serves on the Academia Subcommittee. Chancellor Jim Petro addressed the Task Force to emphasize the critical nature of the work in order to maximize commercialization potential of university research. Ms. Hoover’s participation on this Task Force has provided a voice for entrepreneurial activities occurring on liberal arts campuses, and many of the programs the Foundation supports in NEO will serve as examples in the report. The Task Force’s full report will be complete in June.


USASBE Special Interest Group Focuses on Entrepreneurship at Smaller Colleges and Universities

The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) is currently exploring interest for a new Special Interest Group (SIG), called Entrepreneurship @ Smaller Colleges & Universities. Kay Molkentin, Director of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram College, is leading this initiative, the purpose of which is to encourage, support, and celebrate entrepreneurship at smaller schools.

The opportunities and challenges of developing entrepreneurship programming at small institutions are often of a different scale and/or focus than those at larger institutions. The Entrepreneurship @ Smaller Colleges & Universities SIG will address these differences by sharing best practices regarding developing, building, running, and growing entrepreneurship programs in smaller settings that have an arts and science and/or liberal arts undergraduate focus. The group will also promote and support the conducting and sharing of research on entrepreneurship education efforts in such settings.

If you are a USASBE member who would like to vote for this proposed SIG to be formed, please register your vote. For more information, please contact Kay Molkentin, Director of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram College, at molkentinkf@hiram.edu.


The Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s 2011 Annual Report Available Online

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation 2011 Annual Report, HATCHED: Empowering New Generations of Entrepreneurs, is now available online. Learn more about our collaborations to hatch new ideas that will secure Northeast Ohio's future prosperity: view the interactive flipbook or download the PDF.

President's Message

May 1, 2012

In 2010, JumpStart developed its now widely recognized diagram of the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network (JEN), capturing the elements of the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem functioning in Northeast Ohio. Although the JEN includes a component reflecting regional entrepreneurship education resources, we observed that the myriad collegiate programs in our region needed further definition in order to convey the full spectrum of all that is available.

Working in concert with our colleagues at JumpStart, we developed a separate, but equally extensive, schematic representation of the collegiate entrepreneurial ecosystem. Not only does Northeast Ohio boast a wide array of collegiate resources, the programs also have built healthy collaborative relationships that crisscross the region and create synergistic opportunities for sharing resources, information, competitions, and opportunities.

The Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, Blackstone LaunchPad, JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council, LaunchTown, and the Northeast Ohio Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program have all built inter-institutional connections that strengthen the experiences for students. The ultimate goal is to create opportunities that allow students to experience the entrepreneurial process and eventually launch businesses. After graduation, there are pathways of support for students to connect with support services through Shaker LaunchHouse, MAGNET’s Beta Space, JumpStart, and the Innovation Fund. The story told through the vehicle of this collegiate entrepreneurship network is powerful and is a testament to the vision and determination of entrepreneurship champions on Northeast Ohio campuses.

Deborah D. Hoover
President and CEO

Blackstone LaunchPad Comes to Northeast Ohio

November 21, 2011

It was with great excitement that, in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation announced on November 18 a groundbreaking partnership with The Blackstone Charitable Foundation to train the next generation of entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio. The two foundations have joined together on a $3.2 million grant to four colleges in the area – Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, and Lorain County Community College – to expand Blackstone LaunchPad, a program that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and supportive mentors they need to transform untested ideas into vital companies.  Regarding the initiative, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown commented, “Small businesses create almost two-thirds of new jobs in the American economy. That’s why it’s so important to give start-up support to our best and brightest young minds. The Blackstone LaunchPad program will help provide the necessary resources to young entrepreneurs at Baldwin-Wallace, Case Western, Kent State, and LCCC to create 21st-century jobs and spur economic growth in Northeast Ohio. I’m thrilled that The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and The Burton D. Morgan Foundation have recognized the strong entrepreneurial spirit present here in Northeast Ohio, and I welcome their generous investment in our students.”

Founded in 2008 by the University of Miami, Blackstone LaunchPad pairs students and alumni with venture coaches who help them develop their business ideas. As their ideas mature, Blackstone LaunchPad connects students with entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, venture capitalists, and others with professional expertise to help them bring their ideas to market.

The program is quickly becoming a national model for fostering entrepreneurship through higher education. The aim of Blackstone LaunchPad in the region is to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and activity among undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent alumni to help them build companies that will contribute to the economic revitalization of Northeast Ohio.  Deborah D. Hoover, President & CEO of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, stated, “Blackstone LaunchPad will be a critical piece of  the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem, fostering campus-based innovation, commercialization, and start-up activity that will in turn create jobs, new opportunities, and economic impact for the region.”  Blackstone LaunchPad is currently in the planning phase at the four colleges and is expected to be up and running by fall 2012.

5th Annual Entrepreneurship Immersion Week at Held at Ashland University

November 21, 2011

The Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) held its 5th annual Entrepreneurship Immersion Week at Ashland University on August 7 – 12. Teams of five undergraduate students from each of the nine member schools arrived on Sunday afternoon to begin an intensive educational program focused on entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial resources available in Northeast Ohio. Member schools of the EEC are Ashland University, Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, and the University of Akron.

The educational program was led by EEC faculty and outside experts; topics included opportunity recognition, brainstorming, market analysis, marketing, leadership, networking, team building, entrepreneurial finance, funding, and legal issues. Keynote speakers included EEC program alumni, Trevor Clatterbuck, CEO, Fresh Fork Market (Immersion Week 2007) and John Knific, CEO, Citizen Groove (EEC regional business concept competition 2009).

Additionally, during the week each team was charged with developing a product and/or service business concept in competition with the other teams to be presented to a panel of distinguished judges from Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial community. Team business concepts were:

  • Case: Entrepreneurs Consolidated, a web-based search and network tool matching entrepreneurs with the professionals that can assist them through their development and startup.
  • Kent State: Teddy Alert, a teddy bear with a built-in smoke detector.
  • John Carroll: MEDshift Solutions, improving hospital operating efficiencies for the operating suites by insuring no lost time due to lack of personnel.
  • Cleveland State: Procryption, encrypting the transmission of client point-to-point data through their servers.
  • Lake Erie: EZ Aisle, the first of many smart phone applications that improves retail shopping experiences and advertises sale items.
  • B-W: CustoME color, a unique cosmetics product color and packaging system.
  • Akron: Pattern recognition software for improved biological research.
  • Ashland: An innovative beverage safety concept.
  • Hiram: mmeko sauce, a specialty food sauce and condiment from Guinea for the “foodie” market.

The team from Baldwin-Wallace won the first place prize of $2,500; Ashland took the second place prize of $1,500, and Kent State took the third place prize of $1,000. As of late September, members of five of the nine teams continue to pursue the business concepts developed during Entrepreneurship Immersion Week.

Read Wakefield, Director, The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Ashland University, and, President, Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, stated, “Though the judges select winning concepts, every student who participates in Entrepreneurship Immersion Week is a winner. They learn about and experience entrepreneurship. They return to their own campuses with a confidence and enthusiasm that they can make a positive significant difference in the world by being entrepreneurial in starting their own businesses or by working for others. They share this experience with their classmates and help us to reach additional students with our entrepreneurial programs.”
 The national award-winning programs of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium are funded in large part by The Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

NOCHE’s Entrepreneurial Internship Program: Engaging College Students and Entrepreneurs

November 21, 2011

Forty-two students in Northeast Ohio recently completed internships with 18 entrepreneurial companies in Northeast Ohio through a partnership between the Foundation and NOCHE, the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education. The Entrepreneurial Internship Program engaged college students and employers, providing salary reimbursement of half the cost of each intern stipend (up to $500 per intern).  The program was a great success!  Meet some of the successful interns:

Ryan Poland always thought he might be interested in starting his own business. After spending his summer as a client services intern at My LifePlan, he is more confident than ever that he wants to be an entrepreneur.  Ryan saw the flexibility entrepreneurship offers and the rewards of working hard. Ryan’s paid intern experience at My LifePlan highlighted the value of experiential learning. “[Interning] was more useful than sitting in a lecture class listening and reading about business. I feel this is the best and most beneficial way to learn, because firsthand experience is the key to learning about business,” Ryan said of his experience.

Lauren Bajda’s intern experience at Sunflower Solutions caused her to reassess her goals after graduating from college. Lauren said that her internship experience as a public relations and social media intern makes her more likely to stay in Northeast Ohio after graduation and also increased her interest in running her own company. Lauren said, “I now have big dreams of serving others and making a difference, and I have even considered starting my own company, which I had never thought of before.”

Working at ABSMaterials, Inc., provided Jennifer Silling the opportunity to thrive in a dynamic business atmosphere that “values social responsibility, teamwork, and sustainability.” She loved her experience as a marketing intern and enjoyed meeting the challenges of an entrepreneurial environment. “I was surprised how much responsibility and trust I was given from day one. It really challenged me and forced me to take responsibility. I also ended up surprising myself with how much I could handle, which instilled a lot of confidence.” ABSMaterials valued having Jennifer as an intern, so much that they offered her a full-time position.

Terrier Bakery Up and Running at Hiram College

November 21, 2011

What could be better than mixing baking with business?  At Hiram College, students are doing that and much more in French Professor Ella Kirk’s First-Year Colloquium, The Art of Making Dough.  Students are learning first-hand the ins and outs of marketing, finance, sales, and production while also becoming bakers par excellence through the college’s student-run venture, Terrier Bakery.  In a typical class session, the 16 students are divided into two groups – one that focuses on the business side of things and the other that is in the kitchen making specialties such as cinnamon rolls, asiago cheese sticks, and Russian tea bread.

As Entrepreneur-in-Residence Anne Haynam (a professional chef and baker who is team-teaching the class with Professor Kirk) stated one morning as she coached the students on their bread-making, “People eat with their eyes first.”  She peppered the class with questions related to production and taking orders as they busily stuffed their rolls with pepperoni and kneaded their bread dough.  In the meantime, Professor Kirk worked with the students as they brainstormed marketing ideas and discussed ways to increase sales. The students in the class are incredibly dedicated, arriving at East Hall early in the morning to start the bread-baking process. Each student committed $50 in seed money and bakes six hours a week in addition to the class. The Terrier Bakery is supported by the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram. The College’s vision for student-run ventures is that they be college-owned, faculty-championed, curriculum-connected, and student-run. By the end of the class, the students will not only be well-versed in entrepreneurship, they will be seasoned bakers.  For as Anne Haynam says to them, “Next time, it’s your turn.”

In Brief...

November 21, 2011

Do you have the next big idea?

Enter the LaunchTown Entrepreneurship Awards 2012 and “Prepare to Launch your Dreams!” The competition is now accepting “Intents to Enter” through January 31, 2012. For 2012, LaunchTown’s focus is on ideas related to engineering, sciences, technology, and advanced studies. The competition is open to all students enrolled at the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Youngstown State University, and Case Western Reserve University who are pursuing any major or course of study. However, a minimum of one graduate student leader and one undergraduate student must team on any single entry. The winning entry receives $10,000 and access to mentor and advisory services. Check LaunchTown’s Web site for details, and enter today!

New Personnel Hired for Entrepreneurship Programs

Kenyon College has hired a new program coordinator for its Innovation Greenhouse entrepreneurship program. Scott Gosnell is the founder and CEO of Windcastle Venture Consulting, a management consulting company focused on innovation and new businesses. Previously, Scott worked as an investment banker, research scientist, and software executive. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and an MS in Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy from the Ohio State University College of Medicine. Scott is a Kenyon alumnus of the class of 1993 with a degree in Economics and Psychology. He is busy planning for a December 7 entrepreneurship event on campus during which there will be short presentations from previous business plan competition winners on the progress they’ve made as well as three outside speakers making presentations on the following:

  • Andrew Fernitz of 312 Aquaponics, a company dedicated to urban farming and green technology
  • April Yvonne Garrett, president of Urban Frame, who will be talking about social entrepreneurship
  • Carl Kriss, a recent Kenyon alumnus who started a film production company, and who will be showing his first documentary, Give and Take, which is currently making the rounds of film festivals around the country.

David J. Kukurza is the new Academic Program Director and Visiting Professor of Integrated Entrepreneurship at the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram College. With a B.S. from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College, David is also the Vice President of Business Development for a start-up company, Main Sail, LLC. Prior to entering academia, David had a distinguished 30-year career with IBM and was selected by Hiram for his experience as an entrepreneur as well as for his strong presentation, teaching, mentoring, and business skills. These skills will be particularly important as the academic director, in addition to other responsibilities, works closely with students throughout the idea competition process on campus. David just finished the fall Ideablitz! Competition and will be working with students to prepare for the spring competition.

President's Message

November 21, 2011

Dear Readers,

The Foundation has just completed a new strategic plan that elevates the importance of our work around the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem, including our dynamic and growing collegiate entrepreneurship ecosystem.  More than 20 schools in our region -- from small, liberal arts colleges to large universities -- are offering students opportunities for support of their entrepreneurial endeavors through classes, idea and business plan competitions, student-run ventures, internships, and student venture funds.

These programs are buoyed by the collaborative efforts of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, and the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council to connect student entrepreneurs with the larger entrepreneurial community.  Into this robust mix, we have just introduced an exciting new element -- Blackstone LaunchPad -- a program developed at the University of Miami to provide a co-curricular opportunity for students to experiment with their business ideas and have access to a host of support services through a team of venture coaches.  The program will be implemented in partnership with The Blackstone Charitable Foundation on four campuses over the next three years and is expected to spawn businesses and jobs for the region while simultaneously demonstrating to students the vibrant character of NEO's reinvented entrepreneurial landscape.

I leave you with one additional observation.  Entrepreneurship is a critical tool for ensuring the future prosperity of our nation.  Our institutions of higher learning should be recruiting for entrepreneurial talent, the same way athletes are recruited.  Universities should be scouting talent at high school business plan competitions and entrepreneurship programs and offering  scholarships to encourage high-potential students to attend their institutions. In short, talented student entrepreneurs should be recognized for the vital role they will play in redefining the fabric of our national economy.

As we observe Global Entrepreneurship Week, we believe Northeast Ohio has much to celebrate, but we also recognize that we cannot rest on our laurels. We must work to strengthen the pathways that encourage students to brave the world of entrepreneurship in high school, college, and beyond.  The Burton D. Morgan Foundation will continue to be a catalyst in building those pathways in Northeast Ohio.

Deborah D. Hoover
President & CEO

Entrepreneurship Educators Seek Sustainability

April 22, 2011

What next?

As the Northeast Ohio Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program (NEOCEP) grant term is set to close in 2012, the five liberal arts colleges that have used the program to bring a mindset of entrepreneurship to their campuses are asking that question.

In late 2006, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation pledged nearly $7 million to those colleges over a five-year period.  With the grant money came an expectation that the entrepreneurship efforts would be continued when the grant funding was no longer available.

Sustaining on-campus entrepreneurship programs without major grant support can be challenging. There is very little guidance in the field of collegiate entrepreneurship on how to sustain vibrant programs over time.  But some colleges outside Northeast Ohio are succeeding.

In mid-May, the Morgan Foundation invited leaders from four campuses with sustainable entrepreneurship programs to share their experiences with NEOCEP officials and representatives from other area Northeast Ohio liberal arts colleges where the Foundation has been helping to support entrepreneurship education.

“What does this new day mean?” Morgan Foundation president Deborah Hoover asked those at the beginning of the day-long session. “How will these programs that have spawned business plan competitions and companies survive?”

Sharon Alpi, director of the Tabor Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University in Decatur, IL, told the group:  “Sustainability is an attitude you have to have going in.”

Millikin’s program has received foundation support, but Alpi has found non-grant streams of revenue as well. The Center for Entrepreneurship developed and markets a program to the Decatur school system and local Girl Scouts to engage young women in math and science.  The Center gets revenue from registration and administering the program, called iSMARTgirls.  The Decatur SCORE chapter of retired executives financially supports the Millikin program. The Center for Entrepreneurship benefits from a student consulting company, and Alpi is developing a program for a high school entrepreneurship class that will help support her center as well. She is asking 50 investors to pledge $1,000 each for three years to underwrite the program.

There are also a number of student-operated ventures at Millikin, including an art gallery.   Student ventures CAN make a profit and still operate within the college’s non-profit net, Alpi said.

  
Dialing for dollars

Good old-fashioned fundraising has been successful in building an endowment on some campuses, especially campaigns targeting younger alumni and former students. Speakers, however, cautioned that those efforts must be coordinated with the college development office.

Jerry Gustafson, founder of the Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education (CELEB) at Beloit College in Wisconsin, managed to raise $700,000 from former students.  Jeff Cornwall, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, was able to raise a $1.5 million endowment, much of it from young alums.

Kay Molkentin, director of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram College, emphasized that entrepreneurship leaders and development staffers should be working together. Molkentin was formerly in Hiram’s development office.

Now, she said, when she makes a contact with a potential donor, she passes that name along to the development office and expects the same respect in turn.   However, Hiram has designated its entrepreneurship program as one of its Centers of Distinction.   Not all colleges give entrepreneurship education such an elevated status.

One college official said the future of entrepreneurship efforts on his campus might depend on an impact analysis, which drew a comment from one of the guest speakers that differential literature classes don’t have to “prove their value” through an impact analysis.
     
Value in visibility 

 Several speakers pointed to the value of public relations in raising both visibility and funds.

Cornwall was invited by Belmont University’s media relations office to start a blog about his program. The blog – The Entrepreneurial Mind – gained traction. It is part of the Forbes blog network and is syndicated by the Christian Science Monitor and Business Insider. As a result of the blog-brought visibility, Cornwall said, donations for his program have increased – some from people who would never have considered giving to the university.

He also told workshop guests to remember the parents of students. He said he held a banquet for his students’ parents that made a difference in fundraising.

At Purdue University in Indiana, the entrepreneurship certificate program has high national visibility. The school was chosen for the Kauffman Campuses Initiative in 2006. And the heart of the entrepreneurship activity – the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship – anchors the university’s $100 million scientific research center known as Discovery Park.
  
 That location helps raise the visibility of the center and helps bridge the gap from “discover to delivery,” Rick Cosier, director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, said.

The Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition – endowed by Burt Morgan (a Purdue alumnus) and started in 1987 – is the country’s third-oldest competition. With $100,000 in prize money, the plan attracts national attention.

Cosier said Purdue’s certificate program in entrepreneurship is so well respected that the college recognizes its worth and provides $180,000 toward the entrepreneurship center’s annual operating cost. He said the entrepreneurship program has also been successful in raising a lot of smaller donations -- $25,000 and under.

“If you meet and exceed expectations, you can get the attention of the administration,” he said.

The presenters also all agreed the best position from which to approach donors is to emphasize the benefit of the program to students. Entrepreneurship is not unlike other lab-focused classes, they said, and provides a student a chance to practice.

In a follow-up survey, most participants said they found the workshop very useful.

 “Lots of good ideas that reflect entrepreneurial spirit,” said one. Another added that the presenters provided “a wide context for the kinds of things that can and do work.”

According to Hoover, the Foundation will be producing a white paper and other materials to summarize the ideas and share the details with a wider audience.

Boot Camp Takes Months of Planning

April 22, 2011

When students from several Northeast Ohio colleges arrive at Ashland University this August for business boot camp, each team will have just one week to put together a business plan.

Planning for the camp itself – officially known as Entrepreneurship Immersion Week – takes much longer. The groundwork for this year’s camp was laid in April 2010.

Immersion Week is the signature program of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC), a group of nine public and private colleges in Northeast Ohio. Each school can send five students to the competition, which rotates among the member schools.

This summer, Ashland University is the host campus.

With hosting the competition comes the presidency of EEC. That decision is made each spring. Last April, Read Wakefield, director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Ashland, agreed to the role.

Before agreeing to assume the EEC presidency, however, he checked to make sure dorm space would be available because so many activities occur during the summer months. With Immersion Week reservations for August 2011 in place, AU’s housing and conference planning departments got involved.

Even more important, Wakefield had the opportunity to watch the week unfold at Baldwin-Wallace College last summer, knowing he would be stepping into the host shoes. Likewise, Phil Bessler from B-W had paid extra attention in 2009 when Kent State University hosted the event.

Each summer, after the six-day, residential camp has concluded, the directors from each college gather and evaluate the results.  Some parts of the program are highly regarded and duplicated – or improved – year after year. Based on director input and student surveys, some workshops and lectures are eliminated and replaced with others.

“We are looking for continuous improvement,” Wakefield says. “Having a diverse group of directors allows us to obtain new contacts and resources for our programs.”

Hosting the event is not only an honor, it brings visibility to the school.

“Ashland is highly honored to host the national award-winning Entrepreneurship Immersion Week program,” Wakefield says. “We are anxious to show off our campus and facilities.”

The host director has two jobs. Not only does the director have to plan the event, but also must put together a home team. The five team members will live and work together for a week – often staying up way into the night – to come up with ideas for a  new product or service and then put together a business plan for the final-day competition. 

At Ashland, students from any major can apply to be part of the team.  The competition is announced in weekly campus email, on cross-campus LCD-TV, and in flyers.   Wakefield has also been reaching out to faculty to encourage and recommend students to apply. Students entering their junior or senior year are preferred.

“We try to put together a team with diversity and with a variety of majors that have demonstrated campus involvement and academic success,” says Wakefield.

It all comes together August 7.  Watching intently will be Colin Drummond from Case Western Reserve University  – the 2012 campus host.

The boot camp and a spring idea competition (ideaLabs) are supported by a grant from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

Wooster Student Lands Marketing Position

April 22, 2011

During the spring semester of her junior year at the College of Wooster, Taylor Lamborn often attended a weekly gathering of students interested in entrepreneurship. On one particular day, there was a guest speaker.

Stephen Spoonamore had come to talk to the students about a new business he and a science professor had started, based on a product that can separate oil and other toxins from water.

Before the session was over, Lamborn’s career track had taken a change.

Instead of going home to Maryland for the summer to be a camp counselor, she stayed in Wooster and did marketing work for ABSMaterials, the company started by Spoonamore and Professor Paul Edmiston.

She graduated this spring, and she will be staying in Wooster. She has signed a four-year contract with ABSMaterials, where she will work in marketing and provide sales support. Her job will include maintaining the company’s Web site, creating graphics and marketing materials, developing print ads, working on trade show materials and organization, providing support to the sales team, and facilitating events at ABS headquarters.

Spoonamore remembers the day he met Lamborn and the other students.

He says he is always on the lookout for young talent.  On that particular day, James Levin, head of the college’s Center for Entrepreneurship, had invited him to speak to the students who gather weekly at Morgan Hall, munch on freshly made popcorn and exchange ideas. Spoonamore was curious to know the reason each student attended the sessions.

Lamborn, a communications and art major, doesn’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something about wanting to learn how entrepreneurs think and what endeavors her classmates were pursuing.

Spoonamore saw in that answer the mind of a marketer, and when the session was over, he offered her a paid internship with ABS. Last summer, she did marketing for the company.

Soon she will be working full time. Her ability to tell the story about the creation of ABSMaterials shows her marketing ability.

The genesis of the company dates to 2005 and 2006, when Edmiston was working to develop a substance that could help detect explosives in airports. He drew up some formulas, and students were experimenting. One day in the lab, a student mixed acetone with ground-up glass – and the glass swelled up and absorbed the acetone. More experiments showed that the ground-up glass could absorb and separate all sorts of contaminants from water, including oil. 

At the time, Spoonamore was living in Wooster but working on the east coast.  His wife teaches costume history and design at the college and works with the Ohio Light Opera. He was commuting to a business he was developing in the Washington, D.C.-area. One day he saw an  item in a college publication about Edmiston, who had found a substance that could separate oil and water.

Spoonamore remembers thinking: “Either this guy is crazy or this is a huge breakthrough.” Either way, he was too busy at the time to get involved or even ask questions.

A couple of years passed, and Edmiston’s efforts to transition his discovery from the college lab into a profit-making business were not going well.

As chance would have it, Lamborn says, the two wound up on the same plane from Cleveland to Baltimore one day in 2008. By then, Spoonamore was looking to help a new company to grow, so he approached the professor. He was surprised to learn nobody had taken Edmiston seriously.

Before the plane landed, Spoonamore offered to invest $250,000 of his own money. The product, called Osorb, was successfully tested with oil-infused water shipped to Ohio from the Gulf of Mexico spill. It was not commercially ready to clean the entire Gulf, but it worked on the sample tested, according to Lamborn.

ABSMaterials now has about 30 employees, including at least two other Wooster grads.  Spoonamore predicts it will have a “multi-billion” impact on the economy.

Lamborn, the marketer, describes the company this way: “We’re trying to help the world, one little toxic waste at a time.”

Product Would Make Aviation Safer

April 22, 2011

Product Would Make Aviation SaferTwo engineering students from the University of Akron who won the 2011 ideaLabs competition are now working to find investors for their company.
Kyle Hamblin and James Kirkwood credit the competition with accelerating their efforts to produce a product to make aviation safer.
“Winning the ideaLabs competition has launched JVT Aerospace much, much further than we thought we’d be by this point,” Hamblin said.

The concept for the product was born of tragedy. In 2005, Hamblin’s brother-in-law was flying a private plane from Akron to Youngstown when something happened and the plane went down in a rural area of Portage County. The FAA listed the cause as pilot error, but Hamblin says that is a catch-all cause when nothing else can be conclusively proven.

The accident spurred him to “think of potential ways to make aviation safer.”
JVT Aerospace – named for Jason Virgil Thomas, the pilot who lost his life – is developing a product for pilots using voice recognition technology to make radio commands from air traffic control stand out from all other radio communications.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation sponsors the competition through the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, a group of nine private and public colleges in Northeast Ohio. The winning team got $5,000.

Hamblin said that money enabled JVT Aerospace to begin the patent process, and winning opened the door to angel investors.

“We are very committed to the success of this venture, and a large part of the success will be attributed to The Burton D. Morgan Foundation helping lift it off the ground,” he said.

In Brief...

April 22, 2011

New hire at Hiram
David Kukurza, a professor of Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at John Carroll University, has been named Academic Program Director for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram College. He replaces Bill Fillner, who is leaving the school, and will work with Kay Molkentin, who is director of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship.

Kukurza, who was among 32 applicants for the position, also is the Vice President of Business Development for a start-up company, Main Sail, LLC.  Prior to entering academia, he had a 30-year career with IBM.  In addition to other responsibilities, he will serve as a visiting professor and also work closely with students throughout the process of Hiram’s idea competition.

Student businesses to be showcased
Once again this year, student entrepreneurs from area colleges will have a chance to showcase their companies to a very receptive audience: those attending the JumpStart annual meeting. Last year, more than 30 young entrepreneurs took advantage of the opportunity to seek both buyers and investors. The Student Showcase is being organized by the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council. The event this year is scheduled for October 25 at the John S. Knight Center in Akron. For more information call Cathy Belk at 216-363-3417 or email her at cathy.belk@jumpstartinc.org.

Entrepreneurship programs lauded
Two area colleges have been named to the list of the top 50 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the country by Bloomberg Businessweek. John Carroll University ranked 43 in the nation and Case Western Reserve University ranked 50. Babson College in Massachusetts topped the list.

Entrepreneurship sparks in Stark County
Entrepreneurship activity is increasing in Stark County. On April 6, student teams from four schools – Malone University, Stark State College of Technology, Walsh University and the Stark campus of Kent State University – participated in a business-plan competition. The competition was part of the Entrepreneurship Experience, a month-long series of events for adults and students.

On another campus, the University of Mount Union offered its first “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course this spring. The course was open to all students, regardless of their major, and attracted a mix of students pursuing degrees in engineering, history, the arts, and exercise science, as well as business. The course culminated in business plan presentations by students on May 2nd. Foundation President Deb Hoover and Senior Program Officer Leslie Nelson helped evaluate the student presentations, along with members of Mount Union’s faculty and administration.

John Carroll students win SIFE competition
John Carroll University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE)  team won the SIFE regional competition held in Cleveland in April. SIFE is a global, non-profit organization that brings together students and industry leaders to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. John Carroll’s winning SIFE  projects included a fundraising program to purchase a truck for an orphanage in Africa and helping to make a Cleveland-area restaurant more environmentally sustainable. The students also fared well at the national competition.

Fundraising webinar scheduled

Burton D. Morgan Foundation President Deborah Hoover will conduct a one-hour webinar on resource development June 15.  Dollars and Sense: Raising Funds for Entrepreneurship Education will start at 4 p.m. and is one of the regular webinars conducted by the Columbus-based Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (CEE).  To register for the free web-based discussion, go to http://www.entre-ed.org.

President's Message

April 22, 2011

Spring Whirlwind!

As the academic year winds to a close, we are catching our breath from a busy spring filled with campus visits, business plan competitions, lectures, and new opportunities.  There is so much happening in the NEO collegiate entrepreneurship ecosystem that the JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council has decided to create a DVD that will capture the exciting highlights to share both inside and outside the region. In fact, a recent visitor to Northeast Ohio from a highly ranked collegiate entrepreneurship program remarked that he was excited to visit NEO so that he could learn more about how we approach entrepreneurship on campuses.  He observed that people have heard about what is going on here in the collegiate entrepreneurship space and are watching what we are doing!  This reputation stems from our strength in numbers, resourcefulness, and our highly collaborative network.  We certainly cannot rest on our laurels, but it is nice to know that our hard work is being recognized!

Meanwhile, it is hard to believe that our Northeast Ohio Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program schools will be entering the fifth and last year of their Morgan-Kauffman grants.  It seems like only a short time ago that we were struggling with superficial matters such as actually using the word entrepreneurship instead of some euphemism. All of our collegiate programs have made huge strides in spreading entrepreneurship across their campuses through courses and co-curricular experiential activities. It is now time to ensure that the programs live and thrive beyond the grant.

In this newsletter, you will read about our efforts to promote financial sustainability for all of our collegiate entrepreneurship programs. You will also learn about new programs starting, competition results, Immersion Week 2011, Bloomberg rankings, and much more.  While the summer heat sizzles, we will all be planning for next year and how we can take our campus programs to new heights. We wish everyone a great summer!

Deborah D. Hoover
President & CEO

Entrepreneurship Educators Seek Sustainability

December 22, 2010

What next?

As the Northeast Ohio Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program (NEOCEP) grant term is set to close in 2012, the five liberal arts colleges that have used the program to bring a mindset of entrepreneurship to their campuses are asking that question.

In late 2006, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation pledged nearly $7 million to those colleges over a five-year period.  With the grant money came an expectation that the entrepreneurship efforts would be continued when the grant funding was no longer available.

Sustaining on-campus entrepreneurship programs without major grant support can be challenging. There is very little guidance in the field of collegiate entrepreneurship on how to sustain vibrant programs over time.  But some colleges outside Northeast Ohio are succeeding.

In mid-May, the Morgan Foundation invited leaders from four campuses with sustainable entrepreneurship programs to share their experiences with NEOCEP officials and representatives from other area Northeast Ohio liberal arts colleges where the Foundation has been helping to support entrepreneurship education.

“What does this new day mean?” Morgan Foundation president Deborah Hoover asked those at the beginning of the day-long session. “How will these programs that have spawned business plan competitions and companies survive?”

Sharon Alpi, director of the Tabor Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University in Decatur, IL, told the group:  “Sustainability is an attitude you have to have going in.”

Millikin’s program has received foundation support, but Alpi has found non-grant streams of revenue as well. The Center for Entrepreneurship developed and markets a program to the Decatur school system and local Girl Scouts to engage young women in math and science.  The Center gets revenue from registration and administering the program, called iSMARTgirls.  The Decatur SCORE chapter of retired executives financially supports the Millikin program. The Center for Entrepreneurship benefits from a student consulting company, and Alpi is developing a program for a high school entrepreneurship class that will help support her center as well. She is asking 50 investors to pledge $1,000 each for three years to underwrite the program.

There are also a number of student-operated ventures at Millikin, including an art gallery.   Student ventures CAN make a profit and still operate within the college’s non-profit net, Alpi said.

  
Dialing for dollars

Good old-fashioned fundraising has been successful in building an endowment on some campuses, especially campaigns targeting younger alumni and former students. Speakers, however, cautioned that those efforts must be coordinated with the college development office.

Jerry Gustafson, founder of the Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education (CELEB) at Beloit College in Wisconsin, managed to raise $700,000 from former students.  Jeff Cornwall, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University in Nashville, was able to raise a $1.5 million endowment, much of it from young alums.

Kay Molkentin, director of the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship at Hiram College, emphasized that entrepreneurship leaders and development staffers should be working together. Molkentin was formerly in Hiram’s development office.

Now, she said, when she makes a contact with a potential donor, she passes that name along to the development office and expects the same respect in turn.   However, Hiram has designated its entrepreneurship program as one of its Centers of Distinction.   Not all colleges give entrepreneurship education such an elevated status.

One college official said the future of entrepreneurship efforts on his campus might depend on an impact analysis, which drew a comment from one of the guest speakers that differential literature classes don’t have to “prove their value” through an impact analysis.
     
Value in visibility 

 Several speakers pointed to the value of public relations in raising both visibility and funds.

Cornwall was invited by Belmont University’s media relations office to start a blog about his program. The blog – The Entrepreneurial Mind – gained traction. It is part of the Forbes blog network and is syndicated by the Christian Science Monitor and Business Insider. As a result of the blog-brought visibility, Cornwall said, donations for his program have increased – some from people who would never have considered giving to the university.

He also told workshop guests to remember the parents of students. He said he held a banquet for his students’ parents that made a difference in fundraising.

At Purdue University in Indiana, the entrepreneurship certificate program has high national visibility. The school was chosen for the Kauffman Campuses Initiative in 2006. And the heart of the entrepreneurship activity – the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship – anchors the university’s $100 million scientific research center known as Discovery Park.
  
 That location helps raise the visibility of the center and helps bridge the gap from “discover to delivery,” Rick Cosier, director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, said.

The Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition – endowed by Burt Morgan (a Purdue alumnus) and started in 1987 – is the country’s third-oldest competition. With $100,000 in prize money, the plan attracts national attention.

Cosier said Purdue’s certificate program in entrepreneurship is so well respected that the college recognizes its worth and provides $180,000 toward the entrepreneurship center’s annual operating cost. He said the entrepreneurship program has also been successful in raising a lot of smaller donations -- $25,000 and under.

“If you meet and exceed expectations, you can get the attention of the administration,” he said.

The presenters also all agreed the best position from which to approach donors is to emphasize the benefit of the program to students. Entrepreneurship is not unlike other lab-focused classes, they said, and provides a student a chance to practice.

In a follow-up survey, most participants said they found the workshop very useful.

 “Lots of good ideas that reflect entrepreneurial spirit,” said one. Another added that the presenters provided “a wide context for the kinds of things that can and do work.”

According to Hoover, the Foundation will be producing a white paper and other materials to summarize the ideas and share the details with a wider audience.

Waste into Biofuel at Lake Erie College

December 22, 2010

Entrepreneurship students and staffers at Lake Erie College are working on a unique recycling project to make biofuel.

At any given time, there are at least 50 horses at this college's Equestrian Learning Center near Mentor. During the academic year – some students bring their own horses to college – there are more than 80 horses on the grounds. Students train, groom and care for them as part of Lake Erie's equestrian studies program, which now includes a major in Equestrian Entrepreneurship.

Each horse produces 12 tons of manure and stall waste – uneaten and soiled straw – every year.

Lake Erie officials now are hoping to spin that manure and straw into gold...well, at least pellets that can be burned to produce heat.

It's all in the name of sustainability, both ecologically and financially.

Cami Harkless, coordinator of equine performance and health, explains that at one time the college was paying several thousand dollars a year to have someone haul away the waste. Currently, a nursery is picking it up for free.

But in Europe, she says, it is not uncommon for farmers to pelletize their stall waste and sell it. In fact, she says, "There are a lot of equestrian centers in Europe sustaining themselves on manure."

So, she and some of the school's students interested in entrepreneurship researched how to recycle the waste and the marketing potential for a biofuel product. Then, the college invested about $3,000 in a machine to make pellets from the stall waste.

The challenge, Harkless said, came because "there is really no recipe for manure pellets, so we had to come up with our own."

Moisture content is important, because the pellets cannot be too crumbly or they won't burn well. On the other hand, if they are too moist, they will jam the machine. She and the students wound up using soy as a binder.

The pellets they produce burn evenly, produce heat, and have a slightly earthy but not offensive odor.

There are many next steps, including the addition of a drying process to kill any pathogens, EPA approval, a third party to bag the pellets, and a way to market the fuel. Harkless said there are also storage issues to be addressed to prevent mold. She said Lake Erie is trying to partner with another college to continue the testing.

Members of the school's Students in Free Enterprise Club (SIFE) are working with Harkless on the project.

"There is more work to be done," she says, "but we know we can do this. There is a lot of opportunity here."

NOCHE Offers Students Start-up Experience

December 22, 2010

Kathleen Paola spent her summer working with bank transaction software, helping financial institutions to build business. Meghan Ventura spent last summer producing content for social media, working for a company that, in essence, sells selling.

Before last spring, neither Paola, a Purdue student, nor Ventura, a recent Ohio University graduate, had heard of Segmint or Sales Concepts – the respective companies for which they worked.

The connections were made through NOCHE – the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education. Through a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, NOCHE – a coalition of public and private colleges – has established an entrepreneurship intern program. Entrepreneurial businesses can get a 50 percent reimbursement – up to $500 – for each intern they accept and train.

According to NOCHE spokesman Sean McKinnis, 17 Northeast Ohio employers created 32 positions last summer. NOCHE does not do the matching. Rather, the students apply directly to businesses that best fit their interests.

While the program is intended to benefit students from NOCHE's member schools, McKinnis says there is a greater goal: to groom and keep talent in Northeast Ohio. So, good students who live here but attend school outside this area are permitted to apply.

Ventura found the NOCHE Web site online shortly before she was to earn her degree in journalism from Ohio University. She is grateful for the experience. "I helped produce content for social media," she said. "It was a great opportunity. Before this, I never would have considered a career on the marketing or public relations side."

Employers like it too.

"We did find the NOCHE program and stipends beneficial," said Segmint Chairman and COO Tom Tyrrell. Segmint officials were especially impressed with the camaraderie NOCHE encouraged among all of the summer interns.

Paola, a senior at Purdue majoring in business management, heard about the Segmint internship through a program at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue. She applied, got the internship, and found herself immersed in a software system to help banks maintain customer relationships in the age of online banking.

"This internship opened my eyes to a whole different potential career path," she said. "Not only did I learn about entrepreneurship, but I gained insight into the technology field.

"The people with whom I worked are great. They are forward-thinking, creative, and know their industry very well. I view the job market VERY differently than I did a year ago – now there are many more possibilities!"

In brief...

December 22, 2010
Two wins for Hiram College

A proposal to fill straws with flavored syrup earned Hiram College students first place in the 2010 Entrepreneurship Immersion Week competition. Stir-Ups with chocolate syrup won the honor at this year's competition held on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College. Immersion Week is conducted by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC), a coalition of public and private colleges in Northeast Ohio. The week-long entrepreneurship boot camp is funded primarily by The Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

On April 10, Hiram senior Jennifer Godwin took first place in the EEC ideaLabs 2010 competition for a proposal to develop a Web site for individuals suffering from interstitial cystitis.

Make that an E-sandwich?

An idea that surfaced at the 2010 Entrepreneurship Immersion Week has attracted the interest of one of the largest menu printers in the United States.

During the 2010 competition, students from John Carroll University proposed an application for an electronic menu. The JCU team tied for second place. Representatives from the Matlet Group, which prints hundreds of menus, later visited John Carroll's Muldoon Center to meet with the student team and evaluate the feasibility of the team's idea.

Says Mark Hauserman, director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship, "If you are interested in entrepreneurship, there are cool things happening here."

Ideas abound in Wooster

It was standing room only for the College of Wooster Idea Competition in November. Approximately 80 students submitted ideas, and 16 finalists got to present those ideas to an audience of more than 100.

James Levin, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and psychology professor John Jewell turned the evening into a festive event, complete with a band, disco ball, and lights. Levin gave an introductory overview of the Center for Entrepreneurship, including the new focus on internships.

Student projects included a mosquito-repelling lotion to be manufactured and sold in Africa and a bike-rental outlet on campus. There was a three-way tie for first place: Nancy Tinoza and Rutendo Ruzvidzo proposed a project in which chicken eggs and chickens would be sold to pay for textbooks – and eventually a new teaching position – for school children in Africa; Zach Boylston proposed a bike holster bag to make commuting on a bicycle with a backpack a lot easier; Hayet Rida proposed equipping women in Ghana with cameras so they could produce images for posters and postcards. Her proposal also won the "student choice" award.

Rolling into Ohio

Both The College of Wooster and Lake Erie College hosted the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour this fall. At Wooster, James Levin, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, said the traveling show of young entrepreneurs created "quite a buzz." At Lake Erie, the touring entrepreneurs took questions from students and in practical and realistic terms, helped the students realize that having their own business was not beyond their grasp.

 

Focus on Somali immigrants and Chinese outsourcing partners

Two student/faculty research teams from Denison University received the 2010 Burton D. Morgan Summer Scholar Research Award. Student Erik Singh and Dr. Anita Waters from the Department of Sociology/Anthropology collaborated to explore the nature of entrepreneurship among the Somali immigrant and refugee population in Columbus. The goal was to outline strategies to help facilitate the economic and societal integration of Somali refugees into Ohio's capital. Ruiya Huang and Dr. Robin Bartlett from the Department of Economics studied entrepreneurship possibilities in outsourcing and, in particular, the exploration of "future potential in Chinese firms being outsourcing partners."

President's Message

December 22, 2010

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is a different type of funding organization with a mission tightly focused on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. This mission grew from our founder's vision that bold entrepreneurial endeavors set our nation apart from the rest of the world. Our mission is being fueled by the national focus on entrepreneurship as a way to propel our nation out of its current economic malaise. Mr. Morgan believed that intense, targeted attention was the best way for the Foundation to maximize its resources. It is with these principles in mind that we strive each day to help build a stronger climate for entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio.

The Foundation is working to build entrepreneurship pathways from youth to collegiate programs and on into adulthood. We carefully track the impact of each of our individual grants, but we do not stop there. The impact must be greater than the sum of the parts. We are working every day behind the scenes to build networks of programs that work together for a larger goal. This networking happens through meetings, collaborations, e-blasts, conference attendance, newsletters, annual reports, introductions, presentations, our Web site, and social media.

We can see the web of organizations growing stronger month by month, and we hope it is providing support to all of you working in the field with students every day. Together we are creating the pipeline of young minds that will drive Northeast Ohio forward with a vibrant, healthy economy and high quality of life. We appreciate the work of all who share our passion and welcome your new ideas and opportunities for strengthening this growing entrepreneurship education network, so please share your thoughts!

Deborah D. Hoover
President

Popping Kernels of Ideas

May 22, 2010

 It was April Fool's Day at The College of Wooster. But there was no confusing the aroma coming from the entrepreneurship center on the third floor of Morgan Hall.

Popcorn. Theater popcorn. Fresh, buttery, and with plenty of salt. Soon students began filtering into the entrepreneurship center, picking up bags of popcorn and taking seats around a coffee table.

Thursday afternoons at The College of Wooster took on a new atmosphere this past semester, where ideas flew around like the kernels of corn in the machine.

James Levin, the entrepreneurship center's new director, came to Wooster with a background in theater - performing and planning events - as well as practicing law. One of his first acts was to buy the popcorn machine for the entrepreneurship center. The students followed.

"When the third floor of Morgan smells like a movie theater lobby, students are excited, anticipating the next round," says Levin. "One can feel the excitement. Something - it could be unexpected, it could be outlandish, it could be dull and practical - but something is about to happen."

This semester, the students began planning for a Speakeasy Art Salon in Wooster. When they lost out on getting a lease for their initial location, they began eyeing a closed cinema in town. Each week, they meet, toss around ideas and move forward.

Levin likens the ideas to the popping corn. The kernels sometimes land in unusual places. Sometimes they are perfect. "Sometimes burnt to a crisp, sometimes not fully actualized."

But always popping.

"The E-center is basically my second home," says junior Patryk Tenario of Texas, who co-owns an internet music and apparel company. "I am a very creative and outwardly thinking individual and am also very entrepreneurship minded," he said. "But I don't feel that those aspects of my personality are utilized in classes as much as they are at the E-center or several entrepreneurship classes we have."

Another student comes to the Thursday meetings because she said they offer an alternative to the memorizing and testing required in many other classes.

By April Fool's Day, the semester was winding down. So Levin arranged for a special guest. Becky Cummings teaches at Cuyahoga Community College and is a creative coordinator who runs workshops designed to improve communication. In this case, it included tossing around a Koosh ball and talking about personal creativity.

Levin says the enthusiasm the students bring every week "is heartening and affirming for all."

Designing the Future: From Idea to Impact

May 22, 2010

Design took center stage at Oberlin College in mid-April.

In what might be viewed as Project Runway meets Blue Man Group, the college kicked off its design symposium on the Friday evening of April 16 with a fashion show to unveil a new line of official college apparel designed by students. The choreography included the school's version of "Green Man Group."

Carlton Varney, a 1958 Oberlin graduate and one of America's best known interior designers, was the keynote speaker for the Friday session.

Designing the Future: From Idea to Impact also brought together artists, business people and creative thinkers to explore the concept of design and its power to effect change.

Saturday sessions included presentations on Designing for the Arts and Designing Space.

In the arts session, Oberlin grad and producer Thomas Shepard, whose credits include staging Sweeney Todd, told students that in all fields, people think and dream.

"Then reality gets in the way," he said. But he explained that learning to deal with those realities can help shape the final product.

"Limitations challenge you to do better work," added operatic stage director Eric Einhorn.

Michael Alexin, vice president for softlines product design and development at Target, shared his insights on the Zen of Innovation Saturday afternoon. Students also presented their entrepreneurial projects.

The symposium was part of the school's Creativity & Leadership project, funded by the Northeast Ohio Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program. NEOCEP is a collaboration of The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and is a component of the Kauffman CampusesSM Initiative.

Andrea Kalyn, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of the Creativity & Leadership program, said that NEOCEP and the symposium are aimed at preparing students for the challenges of implementing their own entrepreneurial ventures.

"The concept of design thinking - and the prototyping inherent with that - is a powerful tool," she said. "Design becomes the process through which innovative ideas are made tangible."

Entrepreneurship Minor is the Major Winner

May 22, 2010

A Hiram College senior, who proposed a Web business to link and help people with a chronic pain disorder, took top honors in the ideaLabs 2010 competition in April, sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium.

Jennifer Godwin, who is a management major and entrepreneurship minor in Hiram's Weekend College, received $5,000 to continue developing Futures Without Flares, a Web site to help individuals suffering from interstitial cystitis, a progressive and painful bladder condition.

Her Web site/business would empower patients to make informed choices about diet, lifestyle, treatments, and medications.

Godwin is dealing with the condition herself and had thought about a way to connect and help patients. She credits Hiram's entrepreneurship program with helping her move to the next level.

The entrepreneurship classes, she said, enabled her "to put together the tool kit to develop the business." She believes Hiram's program helped her look within herself to find her own strengths, then know when to reach out for help in other areas.

She has already met with funders and is preparing to launch the business after she graduates this spring.

ideaLabs judge Marty Erbaugh said Godwin's compelling story, presentation, and business plan made her the clear winner.

Erbaugh, a trustee for The Burton D. Morgan Foundation and chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation at Kent State University, said all of the ideas presented at the April competition were thoroughly researched and "very, very practical." The judges were extremely impressed with all of the finalists, he said.

The idea competition challenged students to think about new ventures and answer three key questions: Is there a market? Do the financials make sense? What resources are necessary?

Second place in the new venture idea competition went to Kent State University student Dan Kline, for an Apple/Macintosh computer training service on the Web - TheMacTutors.com. Third place went to Chris Franco of Denison University for an online music Web site - Hiptics.com - that also offers social context to the songs. Both Kline and Franco are planning to launch their businesses following graduation.

The Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) is a group of nine public and private colleges and universities committed to offering practical, experiential, and theoretical entrepreneurship education to students in Northeast Ohio. Non-member schools were also invited to send participants. That is how the student from Denison, which is not a member school, was able to compete and place. The competition was held at Baldwin-Wallace College, which will also host the 2010 Entrepreneurship Immersion Week in August.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation is a major funder of EEC.

President's Message

May 22, 2010

As I have probably shared with many of you over the years, Burt Morgan was a prolific writer. We consequently know a lot about his views on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. He often shared his great enthusiasm for business plan competitions and the potential to inspire students to achieve new heights. I have to admit that up until recently, I was definitely a skeptic on this subject. I am now a convert.

During the last year I have cheered at idea competitions, coached student-pitch practice sessions, been impressed by highly complex graduate-level presentations, and shared the joy of undergrads awarded prizes for their fledgling businesses. The potential is huge - these competitions provide a protected environment for students to practice, meet mentors, test ideas, gain confidence, and possibly win financial rewards to start the business of their dreams. Even for those who don't win the prizes, the process, feedback and interactions are invaluable.

Over the past three years of our intense involvement with collegiate entrepreneurship programs, we have observed the quality of these competitions improve dramatically. The ideas are bigger and better, the pitches more polished, the students highly confident, and the interactions with judges richer.

From competitions at the high school level to pitch-offs on college campuses to regional undergrad and graduate competitions, Northeast Ohio is brimming with opportunities for students to see how their ideas and plans stack up to the competition. So we look forward to next year with a new round of contests, creative ideas, and yes...prizes!

Deborah D. Hoover
President