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The Hatch is a 10-week immersive program that takes student and alumni business ideas 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 as 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 pledged for investment in student ideas.

Watch The Hatch® 2022 on YouTube!

Meet the 2022 Hatchlings

The 2022 Hatchlings represented several colleges within the University and spanned from freshmen to doctoral students. 

Learn more about the Hatchlings and their business ideas below.


Cori Byrge, graduate student 

College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Science in Biological Sciences
Product: AquaGel-ponics.

Cori Byrge of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a Master of Science degree in biological sciences. As an undergrad, Byrge volunteered and held leadership positions in the BGSU marine lab and as a graduate student participates in an environmental book club.

Byrge’s product is a sustainable food production system that uses recycled water and hydrogel to increase the production and value of residential gardens. She developed the idea by combining her background in biology and what she has learned about materials design and photochemistry as a graduate student. 

Through the Hatch program, Byrge hopes to develop smart business skills and cultivate relationships with mentors that can guide her as she continues to pursue the development of AquaGel-ponics.    

Hatch Fact: Through her experience with BGSU marine lab, Byrge was able to secure an internship at the world-famous Curaçao Sea Aquarium in Willemstad, Curaçao.

Jade Rush, junior 

Schmidthorst College of Business
Major: Marketing
Minor: Entrepreneurship and Environmental Science
Product: Sustainably made children’s books

Jade Rush of Mentor, Ohio, is a junior in the Schmidthorst College of Business, majoring in marketing and minoring in entrepreneurship and environmental science. Rush is passionate about preserving the environment and currently serves as the event planner for the BGSU Environmental Action Group, a student organization that aims to make the campus more sustainable.

Rush has also been a member of Women in Business Leadership for the past three years and is in her second year as a Resident Advisor at McDonald Hall. 

Rush’s business idea is a series of children’s books about environmental topics that are made from 100% recycled and sustainable materials. Her idea was inspired by the impact she was able to make by implementing a recycling program in her high school. With the book series, her goal is to break down the large and sometimes complicated subject matter to adequately and appropriately educate children on the environment so they can make a positive impact in their own communities.

Through the Hatch program, Rush hopes to gain more knowledge about entrepreneurship, the various aspects of starting a business and how to adjust her product idea to be successful in the market. 

Hatch Fact: Rush is a Girl Scout Gold Award Recipient, with her Gold Award Project being the implementation of a mixed recycling program at Mentor High School in 2018.


Suzanne M. Saunders-O'Herron, doctoral student

College of Education and Human Development
Major: Doctorate of Leadership Studies
Product: Life Stone

Bowling Green, Ohio, native Suzanne (Suzi) M. Saunders-O'Herron is a doctoral student in the leadership studies program and also works as the training specialist for the BGSU Office of Human Resources.

As an employee of the University, she was recently given the opportunity to be a primary member of the BG Leadership Academy planning committee - a program that gives BGSU faculty and staff the opportunity to grow their leadership skills through hands-on engagement activities, project development and enriching sessions. She is also a published children's book author.

Saunders-O'Herron’s business, Everlasting Story, looks to give every person the opportunity to create their own living legacy that will not only serve them for the present time as a personally branded profile, but will convert to a tribute site in the future to memorialize them long after they are gone. This tribute site will have multiple components, including easy access to the memorialization pieces.

Through the Hatch program Saunders-O'Herron hopes to: grow her entrepreneurial skills; network with talented individuals; learn creative ways to innovate, design and launch products; and change the trajectory of her life along with the lives of her husband and children.

Hatch Fact: Saunders-O'Herron was a part of one of the first Living History events in Northwest Ohio, where she brought her great-great grandmother “back to life" through a reenactment.

Madison Smith

Schmidthorst College of Business
Major: Accounting
Product: ToastySleeve

Madison Smith of Bowling Green, Ohio, is a freshman in the Schmidthorst College of Business, majoring in accounting. In addition to her involvement with the Hatch, Smith sings with the BGSU Women’s Chorus and serves as the secretary of the group. 

Smith is an avid coffee drinker and has thoroughly immersed herself in the coffee industry. She even enjoys researching and evaluating statistics pertaining to the logistics and tendencies of coffee drinkers in America.

Smith’s business idea, the ToastySleeve, is an environmentally friendly drink warmer that can maintain the temperature of a hot beverage when you’re on the go. The ToastySleeve will also have adjustable heat settings to customize temperature preferences. Smith values the practicality of maintaining the heat of her beverage when it comes to traveling from one place to another, and the product looks to serve as a supplement to this issue.

Through the Hatch program, Smith hopes to learn more about translating her deep passion for coffee into a practical application.

Hatch Fact: Smith’s go-to Starbucks order is a Grande Caffè Latte made with oat milk, 2 pumps of caramel and 2 pumps of vanilla syrup.

madison smith
erin thomas

Erin Thomas, graduate student

Graduate College
Technical Writing Certificate Program
: A Curated Gift Package Company (name TBD)

Erin Thomas of Enon, Ohio, is a graduate student in the Graduate College pursuing a technical writing certificate. Thomas’ favorite hobby is traveling to and hiking in America’s national parks, and has it on her bucket list to visit every park in her lifetime. 

Thomas’ business idea is a nationwide e-commerce platform that curates the products available at local businesses to create gift packages for customers who wish to shop local. The idea developed through a desire to create and send gift packages of local products through an online platform, and one did not exist. 

Thomas will work with established local business co-ops throughout the country, as well as curate products in cities where co-ops do not exist. The ultimate goal for The Curated City is to have a franchisable model that can be replicated in any city across the country, and for the participating businesses to be represented on the nationwide platform.

Through the Hatch program, Thomas hopes to gain the knowledge needed to build and run a thriving business.

Hatch Fact: Thomas loves America’s national parks so much that she married her husband in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park in August 2021.

Nina Tylutki, sophomore 

College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering
Major: Aviation
Product: Travel Safe Anywhere (TSA)

Nina Tylutki of Flat Rock, Michigan, is a sophomore in the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, majoring in aviation. Outside of her involvement in the Hatch, Tylutki is a proud member of the Women in Aviation student organization and plays club volleyball. She also loves to travel, which is what inspired her product idea.

Tylutki’s product is Travel Safe Anywhere (TSA), an all-in-one bed bug, hidden camera, germ and stain detector compact enough to be portable in any travel situation. The idea came to her rather naturally as an avid traveler who knows her career path may involve a lot of nights in hotel rooms. A product like TSA can help bring peace of mind to consumers knowing that they are in a clean and safe environment whether traveling for business or for pleasure.

Through the Hatch program, Tylutki hopes to develop her entrepreneurial skills and eventually be able to bring TSA to market.

Hatch Fact: Tylutki is able to sing the alphabet backward.

nina tylutki

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 served as an executive-in-residence for the College of Business in the 1990's.

Fisher is mentoring 2022 Hatchling, Madison Smith.

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 2022 Hatchling, Nina Tylutki.

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 2022 Hatchling, Suzanne Saunders-O'Herron.

Rich Myers headshotRichard 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 2022 Hatchling, Cori Byrge.

Eric Nowlin's headshot Eric 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 2022 Hatchling, Erin Thomas.

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 2022 Hatchling, Jade Rush.

Bryant  Bethany 900x900Bethany 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.

Heath 900x900George 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. 

Aly 2016 vert 900x900Aly Sterling

Long before Aly Sterling founded her eponymous consulting firm Aly Sterling Philanthropy, she was solving the unique, yet similar, problems encountered by nonprofit organizations.

Her decision to start her own business in 2007 was driven by two things: her belief in leadership as the single most important factor in organizational success and her determination to work with multiple causes at one time to scale societal change.

Today, as president, Sterling manages the direction and growth of her firm while advising clients on the organizational challenges that affect their sustainability and mission success.

In 2015, Sterling led her firm to membership in The Giving Institute, an exclusive and highly respected professional organization for nonprofit consultants.

Sterling’s expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning and board development for nonprofits and family foundations. She is regularly sought for comment by trade and mainstream media. She has been a featured presenter for regional and national organizations including Philanthropy Ohio, the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity.

Sterling is an alumna of Leadership Toledo, a recipient of the “20 Under 40” award and a Women in Communications Crystal Award winner. In 2018, she was inducted into the Northwest Ohio Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence Hall of Fame. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Toledo and is a fellowship graduate of the executive leadership program at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. Most recently, she earned certification in the 21/64 approach to working with multigenerational families with funds, foundations and other family enterprises. She teaches a course on women and entrepreneurship at Bowling Green State University.

Sterling serves on boards for the Giving Institute and Giving USA foundations, the University of Toledo’s Family Business Center, the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and St. Ursula Academy in Toledo. She is past president of the Northwest Ohio chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a former board member of Leadership Toledo, the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, David’s House and Advocating Opportunity, an organization formed to stop human trafficking.

In 2020, she published a book about her experiences overcoming personal and professional barriers to becoming a female entrepreneur. More about the book and Aly’s work in this space can be found here.

Mark West 900x900Mark 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


Hatch Case Studies

Similar to "Shark Tank," not every Hatchling will receive an offer from our alumni investors. But finding success through the Hatch program can mean many things, including the development of a product or business idea. Check out a few Hatchling case studies to learn more. 

The Hatch Case Study (2021) - Sarah Yarger (Clark), 2018 Participant

The Hatch Case Study (2021) - Jacob Kielmeyer, 2017 Participant

The Hatch Case Study (2021) - Corey Jones, 2013 Participant

E-Week Events

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

Each April, the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst 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.

The Hatch 2022 Sponsors

PNC Foundation logo
J. Robert Sebo logo
Owens-Illinois logo
Wood County Economic Development Commission logo
Greenbriar Inc. logo
A.A. Green Realty, Inc. logo
Metis Construction Services logo
Heidelberg logo
Theresa Popp Braun, Ed.D logo
JumpStart Inc. logo
USBeverage logo
Coca-Cola logo
GMC logo
CSI DMC Destination & Event Management logo
Nationwide logo
CompliGlobe logo
SCoB Student Ambassadors logo
Hanson Inc. logo
Hart Associates logo
dynata logo
Big Fab Lab logo

Updated: 05/04/2022 11:53AM