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Thursday, April 21, 2022 | 6 p.m. | Virtual event

The Hatch is a 10-week immersive program that takes student and alumni business idea from their brains to the stage.

Once selected to be part of The Hatch, each BGSU student entrepreneur, or Hatchling, is paired with an alumni mentor who guides them through the entire process.

The alumni mentor works with their Hatchling during a 10-week immersive program to learn skills such a creating a budget and developing their product or service idea. Then, the Hatchlings present their business ideas to alumni investors during The Hatch to vie 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 deadline to apply for The Hatch 2022 has past. The team is now hard at work reviewing applications and making selections.

The 2022 Hatchlings will be announced at the start of the spring semester.

Watch The Hatch 2021 on YouTube!

E-Week Events

The Hatch is part of Entrepreneurship Week (E-Week) at BGSU.

Each April, the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthrost College of Business hosts entrepreneurial leaders from around the world to share their experience and expertise through presentations and other events including the Women in Entrepreneurship Panel, the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame and the Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship. There are many opportunities to engage through lunch and learns, presentations from world-renowned speakers and much more. Several E-Week events are open to the general public!

For the complete lineup of events, check out the master schedule.

DibleGary 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.

leedom 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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