Aspiring student entrepreneurs ‘hatch’ their businesses with investor support

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BOWLING GREEN, O.Twelve Bowling Green State University students competed in “The Hatch” April 9, presenting their business plans to six investors as they vied for funds to launch their ideas.

This year, more than 1,300 people gathered in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Lenhart Grand Ballroom to watch the aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to the panel of investors, similar to the television show “Shark Tank.” “The Hatch” event was also streamed live to audiences around the world. Nearly 70 Hatch Watch parties took place around the country, with one taking place in Germany.

Ten out of the 12 were offered some form of future support ranging from actual funding to grant-writing services and even legal services. While not all 10 students were funded at the event, the investors felt strongly that even though their business might not be quite ready to launch, their business ideas were worth pursuing.

The following students and their business idea received a commitment from investors:

  • Jerrod Witt, a junior majoring in business with a specialization in marketing and supply chain management, pitched an easy to use location device for use by the visually impaired as well as the tourism industry.
  • Robert Striblen, a senior majoring in individualized business from the BGSU Firelands campus, developed a quick release belt system to transport boxes and totes.
  • Sara Scacchi, a freshman majoring in marketing, designed a lightweight, protective glove for artists to prevent smudges while drawing. Scacchi won the “Campus Choice” award based on texting before and during “The Hatch” event.
  • Caitlin Flack, a fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing, pitched a shopping cart charger for cell phones.
  • Alan Eschweiler, a sophomore majoring in finance, developed a sales notification mobile app connecting customers to products based on their proximity to a retail location.
  • Loren Branch, a junior majoring in sports management, pitched T-shirts with specially created art designs, with partial proceeds supporting youth programs in his hometown of Detroit.
  • Taylor Frazer, a sophomore majoring in business, with a specialization in management, developed a special highlighter with ink that disappears over time for use in textbooks.
  • Angela Lucarelli, a freshman majoring in marketing, pitched a professional clothing rental business for college students.
  • Morgan Smith, a freshman majoring in marketing, developed a mobile app for residence halls that notifies students when washers and dryers are available.
  • Stefan Grdic, a senior from Belgrade, Serbia, in the College of Health and Human Services, pitched interchangeable gloves that attach to coats that can be used in various snow sports.

“This experience has been the greatest thing to happen to me, not only since coming to BGSU but in my 20 years of life,” exclaimed Branch. “I'm more than happy to say this has been the first step to achieving my goal of getting the world to see Detroit for the beautiful city that it is.”

"Being able to work with my mentor, Joe Prillmayer, has been an amazing experience,” said Lucarelli. “He has helped me get my company ‘Invest to Impress’ to the next level by getting two sharks to invest into my idea. It has been a truly rewarding experience and I look forward to starting my company."

While other universities have similar events, BGSU is the only one in the country that awards actual startup funds for student entrepreneurs. The process began in the fall with more than 100 business idea applications.

The event was co-hosted by the College of Business Administration and its Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Watch a one-minute recap of this year’s “Hatch” at http://youtu.be/HfXTqLcrNFc.