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Thursday, April 22, 2021 | Virtual event

BGSU student entrepreneurs (Hatchlings) present their business ideas to alumni investors during The Hatch, vying for funds to launch their businesses in a format similar to the popular television show “Shark Tank.”

What sets The Hatch apart from similar events is that the BGSU alumni investors make equity investments providing real money for students to incubate real businesses. To date, more than $800,000 has been committed to student startups.

The Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, serving as "Hatch headquarters," is one of 20 centers worldwide recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Hatch 2021 Recap

Watch The Hatch 2021 on YouTube!









shakir blackett 

Shakir Blackett, Senior

College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering
Major: Aviation Engineering Technology
Product: TouchColor

Shakir Blackett of Bridgetown, Barbados, is a young budding entrepreneur who started his own micro-mobility company, “Meridian Rentals.” The company has raised over $50,000 in funding from private investors and is currently working diligently to bring a highly intelligent and safely operated electric scooter network to the city of Bowling Green and to BGSU students. Blackett is also the chapter president of his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., and has served on the board for the National Panhellenic Council as the community service chair. When Blackett isn’t working on his company or school, he is producing music for his Youtube page and doing collaborations with musical artists.

Blackett’s business idea, TouchColor, is a simple but effective Braille word system that helps visually impaired users to decipher the size, color and pattern of articles of clothing. This is ideal for persons who are either color blind, visually impaired or completely blind. This helps users to not only regain the ability to properly clothe themselves, but also to shop for themselves as well. This creates a niche avenue for “special” clothing stores for visually impaired people to come to and be able to buy clothes completely independently.

pablo hatch 

Pablo Gómez-Estévez, doctoral student

College of Musical Arts
Major: Composition
Product: Literally

Pablo Gómez-Estévez is a composer and pianist from Santiago, Dominican Republic. He is pursuing a doctoral degree in contemporary music from BGSU, and he received a master’s in composition from BGSU and a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he was named the 2016 Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award recipient. Gómez-Estévez is also a graduate assistant in the Composition Department at BGSU, and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies.

Gómez-Estévez’s music combines Caribbean genres such as salsa, merengue, gagá, bachata and chachachá and infuses them with jazz harmonies and contemporary composition techniques. His works have been performed at BGSU, Luther College, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, and in the Dominican Republic.

His product, Literally, is an online platform for interactive children’s stories enhanced with music, designed for children ages three to eight years old. All stories are bilingual, and they are augmented with original music.

kate greenwell 

Kathryn Greenwell, Junior

Schmidthorst College of Business
Major: Marketing
Product: Wheely Warmers

Kathryn Greenwell, of Centerville, Ohio, is a junior in the Schmidthorst College of Business, majoring in marketing. Along with being a Hatch participant, Greenwell is the president of Disability Rights Education Advocation and Mentorship (D.R.E.A.M.) on campus. She has been a member of D.R.E.A.M. for two years, and this is her first year serving as president. When Greenwell is not at school or working on D.R.E.A.M. activities, she can often be found working at Carillon Place, one of BGSU’s dining halls.

Wheely Warmers is a product that was inspired by Greenwell’s co-creator, Leah Schulze, during a conversation about the difficulty of using a wheelchair during the winter. Schulze noted how cold her wheelchair rims get, and how it is uncomfortable and painful to hold onto the cold metal. The product is a hand warmer which is fitted onto the rim of a manual wheelchair to keep the user’s hands warm while they wheel themselves. The team’s goal is to make maneuvering outdoors in winter a bit easier and more comfortable for wheelchair users.

joe greve 

Joe Greve, Junior

Schmidthorst College of Business
Major: Business Management
Product: Crank-Savr Technology

Joe Greve of Highland Heights, Ohio, is a junior majoring in business management with a minor in entrepreneurship and plans to double major in finance. He is currently the president of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Greve came up with his idea for the Hatch through his passion for fishing, which he’s been doing for over 15 years. The idea came to him in 2019 when he was fishing and lost five lures in a few hours. That frustrating experience made him realize there was an opportunity to solve this problem. The opportunity combined with his work ethic is allowing his idea to come to life and hopefully one day make the way people fish much easier and stress free.

His idea, Crank-Savr Technology, is a fishing lure that can carry cartridges so that if the lure gets snagged on a rock or log, the cartridge has teeth that break off at a predetermined force. All a user must do is tug and the teeth break off. Then they can reel the lure back in and put another cartridge in.  

hunter mahl 

Hunter Mahl, Freshman

Schmidthorst College of Business
Major: Business Administration
Product: Green Sweeper

Hunter Mahl was born and raised in Blacklick, Ohio. From a young age, he has always been interested in business and the idea of making something new to improve the quality of life for others. Instead of watching the latest YouTubers, Mahl could usually be found watching TED Talks and filling notebooks and journals with business ideas. In high school, he was very active in DECA, where he made it to the state competition twice. His biggest inspiration is his mother, Katherine, who passed away from breast cancer when he was still in high school. He uses her passing as fuel to keep driving and pushing himself every day to do more with his life.

In his first semester at BGSU, Mahl heard about the HATCH program during an in-class presentation, and from that moment on, he started brainstorming ideas to pitch. Mahl and his father started coming up with ways they could be more productive with their two-man lawn care company that they own together. That’s when the idea for the Green Sweeper clicked for him, and he started to design the submission for the Hatch. He spent time talking with other commercial and residential lawn mowing companies about the idea and decided there was indeed a market for the product.

nolan thomas 

Nolan Thomas, Senior

College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Individualized Studies with a minor in Entrepreneurship
Product: Ruff and Rugged

Nolan Thomas, of Litchfield, Ohio is a senior pursuing an individualized study plan through the College of Arts and Sciences with a minor in entrepreneurship. After graduation, he plans to pursue animal-related entrepreneurship ventures.

Thomas’s business idea, Ruff and Rugged, is a line of dog collars that provides a tough and durable collar without compromising the comfort of the dog. After experiencing collar-caused skin irritation and gashes on his own dog, Vincent, Thomas realized that there was a need for a sturdy collar that could make it through play time without jeopardizing the well-being of a pet.

leah schulz 

Leah Schulze, Junior

College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Psychology with a minor in Spanish
Product: Wheely Warmers

Leah Schulze is a junior at BGSU majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish. Growing up with spina bifida, she realized that it was really hard for children with this disability to find adults that understand what they are going through. With her degree and furthering her education through graduate school, she plans on eventually becoming a clinical counselor for kids like her. When Schulze is not studying, she participates in sled hockey, works at the Falcons Nest and is also an Honors Fellow.

Having spina bifida and primarily getting around with a wheelchair led her to the idea of Wheely Warmers. Along with her Hatch partner, Kate Greenwell, she hopes to create an easily applicable device that warms the hands of those with metal wheelchair rims, who may not have the dexterity to use normal gloves all of the time.

nathanael slemmons 

Nathanael Slemmons, Freshman

Schmidthorst College of Business
Major: Economics with a minor in Entrepreneurship
Product: SimpleFinder

Nathanael Slemmons is a freshman majoring in economics, with a minor in entrepreneurship. He has always had an immense passion for entrepreneurship and business since he was a young kid. He has experimented with different entrepreneurial ventures ranging from e-commerce, property management and even digital media production. Some of his lifelong goals include being a successful entrepreneur and traveling the world.

His Hatch idea is the SimpleFinder, is a simple locater device used to find misplaced items around the house. He is extremely excited and thankful to have this opportunity, and he is looking forward to learning from his fellow Hatchlings and mentor.  

sophia stockham 

Sophia Stockham, Junior

College of Arts and Sciences
Major: Political Science and Communication double major
Product: Hear to Help

Sophia Stockham of Wauseon, Ohio is a third-year 4.0 Honors student studying political science and communication. Sophia works as an ambassador for the Office of Multicultural Affairs as well as a learning assistant for weather and climate. In addition, she has leadership roles within BGSU’s International Relation Organization, and is actively pursuing undergraduate research. Through her leadership roles and community service, Stockham understands the importance of removing barriers to communication.

Stockham’s personal development includes overcoming her speech impediment to become a two-time national collegiate speech champion. For this reason, Hear To Help is personal for her. Her business idea Hear to Help focuses on creating a cheaper, more durable and ecofriendly repairment system for hearing aids. Stockham believes no child should have to worry about being able to afford their next pair of hearing aids, and Hear to Help provides a solution to make that dream become a reality.  

tim tressel 

Tim Tressel ‘89, Alumnus

Product name: TOOLing Around Tool Caddy for Utility Tractors

Tim Tressel, of Luckey, Ohio, graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration, specializing in market research. He has worked as a market researcher and then the owner/operator of an antique and reproduction history business. Currently, Tressel is the owner of Fertile Ground Tools.

Tim’s business idea is called the TOOLing Around Tool Caddy for Utility Tractors. The size of a utility tractor is between a small lawn mower/garden tractor and a large farm/field tractor. It is used by people who have larger properties. There are different attachments that are made for these utility tractors that can mow grass, plow snow, and lift and haul dirt, to name just a few. The TOOLing Around Tool Caddy will utilize the three-point lift system at the rear of the tractor to organize and carry long-handled tools and other gear during the transport to the lawn and garden or landscaping project.  

Gary Dible '97

Gary Dible graduated with a degree in Construction Management Technology. For 22 years he worked for The D.S. Brown Company, an Ohio-based bridge component manufacturer in North Baltimore. Dible held positions of Product Manager, Engineering Manager, and the final 12 years as Supply Chain Manager. Pursuing his passion for Biggby Coffee (and a dream of owning his own business), in July 2014 he opened his first Biggby Coffee franchise in Bowling Green, Ohio. In June 2017 he acquired his 2nd store in Maumee, Ohio. Dible’s ultimate goal is to own three Biggby Coffee franchises, with the 3rd store being opened within the next two years. He is actively involved in his communities both personally and professionally, and understands the key to success is giving back. Originally from McComb, Ohio, he married his high school sweetheart Amy, and has helped raise 3 children in Bowling Green.

Dible is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Joe Greve.

FisherwebBruce Fisher ‘68

Bruce Fisher was a highly regarded leader in the swimming pool industry. He joined the Hayward Pool Products Division of Hayward Industries in 1991 and held a variety of leadership roles for the company, including vice president of sales and marketing and before retiring, vice president international. He is currently the principal of Walker Lake Holdings, L.L.C. 

During his tenure, Fisher led Hayward's global expansion through a series of strategic acquisitions and internal growth initiatives. He successfully spearheaded the expansion of Hayward's product line, brand, sales organization and marketing department. He is also credited with introducing Totally Hayward, an industry-leading dealer relationship marketing program. Since retiring from Hayward, Bruce has been active as a member of the Board of Directors of various Private Equity owned businesses as well as serving in an advisory/Director role for an equipment start-up company in the swimming pool industry.

Prior to joining Hayward, Fisher was a product manager, vice president of distributor sales, vice president of marketing of the residential division and vice president and general manager of the Decorative Lighting Division of Lightolier, a division of Genlyte, now owned by Phillips Lighting. He was also general manager and COO of The Light Store, a start-up retailer/wholesaler of lighting products and ceiling fans located in Texas and Colorado, which grew from one location to 17 under his leadership.

Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 1968 and has served as an executive-in-residence for the College of Business in the 1990'

Fisher is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Tim Tressel.

Paul Hooker 2019
Paul J. Hooker '75

In 1977, just two years after graduating from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Paul J. Hooker purchased the New York City based luxury household linen importer, SFERRA, from the last of two family members who started the firm in 1891, Enrico and Albert Sferra. 

Hooker recognized the need to maintain the company's identity and encourage growth within the luxury market. With that in mind, he took SFERRA from a one-room office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to a 35,000-square-foot distribution facility in Edison, New Jersey, plus a beautiful showroom just off of Madison Square Park in New York City. In the process, he grew annual sales from $250,000 when he bought the business in 1977 to over $30 million in 2011.

Hooker's tireless focus to develop new business and his attention to details have established SFERRA's leadership position in the luxury linens industry and galvanized the company's emergence into the new global economy. Today SFERRA presents the most comprehensive range of luxury home textiles for the bed, bath and table worldwide.

Hooker umpires varsity high school baseball and was the varsity baseball coach at Red Bank Catholic High School from 1974-2000. In 1990, Hooker, along with his wife, founded a not-for-profit sports program for children with disabilities, named RallyCap Sports. Today, RallyCap Sports assists over 150 families with programs in basketball, soccer, Little League softball, golf, flag football and tennis. Hooker plans to take RallyCap Sports national, making his volunteer run program available to children with special needs nationwide. He worked with BGSU student Luke Sims to launch RallyCap Sports at Bowling Green State University.

Hooker is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Nathanael Slemmons.

Khory Katz '18Kory

Khory Katz is a financial advisor with Edward Jones. Prior to opening his practice in 2018, Khory spent time at Edward Jones' home office in St. Louis, Missouri. In his role with Edward Jones, Katz specializes in helping business professionals and individuals plan for their long-term goals by utilizing an established five-step process and finding out what is most important to his clients. 

While a student at BGSU, Katz was a participant in The Hatch 2016, where he pitched Easy Loft Beds. He also worked as a student assistant in the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Katz graduated with his Bachelor of Science in business administration in 2018.

Katz is mentoring 2021 Hatchlings Kathryn Greenwell and Leah Schulze.

Ed Leedom ‘89

Edward G. Leedom has a degree in business from BGSU and obtained his Certified Financial Planner designation in 1994.

Following a 30-year career in the mutual fund industry, most recently as senior vice president of sales and marketing for a major mutual fund firm working with endowments, foundations, and retirement plan clients, Leedom retired and moved from Chicago back to Ohio. He currently serves as an investment consultant with LPL Financial in Zanesville and Newark, Ohio.

Leedom is very involved with BGSU as well as his college fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi. He is the former treasurer of the Alpha Sigma Phi Foundation, an $11 million foundation that promotes leadership development and scholastic achievement among fraternity members. He serves as an assistant chapter advisor for the BGSU chapter of the fraternity and is a former member of the national fraternity board of directors, having served as national vice president from 2000-2002.  

In addition, Leedom has served on the Leadership Council for the Schmidthorst College of Business since 2015, as well as the Leadership Council for the Division of Student Affairs since 2008.  

Leedom is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Sophia Stockham.

Courtney ShaleCourtney Shale '17

Courtney Shale is the director of marketing for TRAZER, the recognized world leader in the use of computer simulation for the assessment and enhancement of health, fitness, physical and cognitive performance. As a fellow entrepreneur, Shale also owns and operates companies that specialize in event management, health and wellness coaching and small business education.

Shale is an active member of her community as a mental health advocate and is a member of her local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She also serves on BGSU's Young Alumni Board and is an advisor to the University's Beta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi. 

Shale graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a specialization in sales and services marketing in 2017.

Shale is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Nolan Thomas.

Rich Myers Richard Myers ‘71

Rich Myers graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in accounting from Bowling Green State University in 1971. After a year and a half employment with the State of Ohio Tax Department, he turned to be a principle in his family business, Myers Crop Center, Inc., as a fertilizer and agricultural chemical dealer. While there, he utilized his accounting degree, along with his office manager wife’s dedication, to not only provide financials, but also to enjoy his life’s joy of crop production. Enter “computerization”. In fall of 1979, the company started to computerize their financial side of the business. After two years of testing customized code, the decision was made to launch Liberty Software Systems, Inc. the company had customers across the United States and Canada. LSS’s software through the years migrated across many Operating System Platforms and still provides for a few ‘old time’ customers today.

Rich, has ‘farming in his blood’. Throughout this, he continued to work the family farm, often in an experimental lab. Still today, albeit a scaled down version, he enjoys working the land and the look of a ‘well fertilized’ and ‘clean’ field of corn and soybeans!

Rich feels blessed to have worked alongside several innovative people during his life and still has a ‘couple ideas’ for businesses in his head today.

Myers is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Hunter Mahl.

NowlinEric Nowlin '82

Eric Nowlin is a Private Equity board member, advisor and investor. He currently serves as Operating Partner & Chairman of the Board for Surewerx Industrial, and on the Board of Directors for American Plastics, Reliable Parts Holdings, Arrowhead Engineered Products and Questco PEO. His corporate career spanned 30+ years, including roles as President of Grainger Canada, and leading 7500+ team members in Grainger’s US Business in Branch Operations / E-commerce and inventory management. His previous corporate roles included Vice President of Sales (West) for Maytag, and Vice President of National Accounts for Maytag.   

He currently resides in Corona Del Mar, California.

Nowlin is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Shakir Blackett.

venzel Bob Venzel '76, '78

Bob Venzel graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration specializing in marketing from Bowling Green State University in 1976 and an MBA from BGSU in 1978. In 1991, he became the co-owner of Venzel Communications, Inc., an advertising and public relations agency, based in Perrysburg, Ohio. The company’s work encompasses a variety of non-profit and for-profit clients in a cross-section of industries including: business, manufacturing, education, health care and municipalities.

Venzel is mentoring 2021 Hatchling Pablo Gómez-Estévez.

bethany bryantBethany J. Bryant ’91

As President of The Private Trust Company N.A., Bethany Bryant is responsible for setting and executing the strategic direction and financial success of the company through service, satisfaction, retention and recruitment of the firm’s clients and advisors. Bryant was a founding leader of the company in 1995 and served as its chief financial officer and chief operations officer until May 2012 when she transitioned to the president’s role. She assisted in growing the company through its startup phase to its sale to LPL Financial Holdings Inc. in 2003 to present day.

Bryant also works across divisions as a senior vice president at LPL Financial, responsible for contributing to the strategic vision across the firm’s wealth planning platforms and sales enablement areas. This team provides sales support and optimizes the trust planning and services offering to financial advisors and individual investors on a national scale.

LPL Financial is the largest independent broker-dealer, providing independent, objective financial advice to investors through its 16,000 financial advisors. Bryant also leads the women advisor diversity and inclusion efforts for LPL, helping to recruit, retain and support the growth of female advisors in this industry.

Prior to co-founding The Private Trust Company, Bryant began her career at EY, spending the majority of that time in the financial services industry. She earned her undergraduate business degree in accounting from Bowling Green State University and earned an MBA from Cleveland State University and holds her CPA license.

Bryant maintains an active involvement in the nonprofit community.

Manny ConteEmanuele “Manny” Conti ‘89

Emanuele “Manny” Conti is an operating partner for Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe, a private equity firm based in New York City. During his career, he has been CEO of two companies and has 25 years of experience in software, business information and technology-enabled services. He is a board member of three technology-based start-ups. He also is chair-elect of the BGSU Foundation Board. Conti is a BSGU alumnus and graduated with a finance degree in 1989.

Joesph FischJoseph Fisch Jr. ‘71

Joseph Fisch Jr. is the founder, president and CEO of United States Beverage. He has over 45 years of experience in the premium alcoholic beverage industry, and under his leadership, U.S. Beverage has attained worldwide recognition. Fisch and his wife, Gail are Falcon Flames, and both are 1971 BGSU graduates.

HeathGeorge Heath

George Heath is a retired group president at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland, where he drove the growth of its industrial businesses from $1.6 billion to over $3 billion in five years, closing seven acquisitions and leading 7,000 employees in more than 50 countries. He is actively involved in higher education, teaching economics and entrepreneurship at University School in the Cleveland metropolitan area. George was a BGSU athlete and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from BGSU in 1987. 

Mark WestMark C. West ‘90

Mark C. West is the retired president of SharedClarity. Currently, he is focused on providing venture capital to start-ups, including Magna-Halter working with former Hatchling Sara Yarger. West is a 1990 graduate of BGSU’s Schmidthorst College of Business and is married to his Falcon flame, Julie. He and his family call Phoenix, Arizona, home


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