Students ‘Hatch’ entrepreneurial ideas
By: Amber Stark
In the spirit of "Shark Tank," 11 student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to alumni investors during The Hatch on April 7, 2016 at Bowling Green State University.
Developed by The Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at BGSU, the competition delivers a unique experience for both the student and the audience. New this year, students could apply as teams, both undergraduates and graduate students could apply, and an incubation funding opportunity was added to help students refine their business models.
More than 130 applications were received for this year’s Hatch. The eight ideas selected included a rover that will provide parking security/attendant services; a bio-friendly alternative to plastic microparticles; and an easy-to-use loft bed system.
“This was an amazing group of young students,” said Kirk Kern, director of The Dallas-Hamilton Center. “The students worked hard to get to this point and their efforts paid off, as evidenced by the support of the alumni investors.”
Giuseppe Giammanco, a graduate student studying chemistry, accepted an offer of $10,000 for 10 percent equity in his company, microgreens, a bio-friendly alternative to microparticles. This alternative could replace environmentally unfriendly, banned microparticles in fillers, exfoliates and cosmetic products. Four of the alumni investors - Earle Malm '71, Joseph Fisch '71, Brian Sokol '82, '84 and Nico Cottone '92 – went in on the deal. The additional investor for The Hatch this year was Michelle Drerup '00.
Alyssa Batch, a senior majoring in graphic design, accepted an offer from Malm of $7,500 for 10 percent equity in her company, Comfort Covers. Comfort Covers provides personalized duvets for dementia patients in order to create a conversation between nurses, aides, residents and visitors.
Four ideas were recommended to go onto the incubation phase:
- Collin Newton and Kiersten Castner, both sophomores majoring in marketing and business analytics, were offered $6,000 for 5 percent equity in their company, Trace Case, a "smart wallet" phone case that will keep track of the customer's cards.
- Khory Katz and Meredith Moore, both sophomores majoring in finance and sales and services marketing, were offered $6,000 for 5 percent equity in their company, EasyLoft, which offers "no-hassle lofted beds," an easy-to-use lofting system to transform a small, cramped residence hall room into a more functional space.
- Sophia Schmitz, a senior majoring in violin performance, was offered $5,000 for 5 percent equity in her company, Play to Play, a music reading, theory and aural skills curriculum that is presented as an active board game.
- Austin Farrington, a senior majoring in marketing, was offered $5,000 for 5 percent equity in his system that utilizes Bluetooth beacons to set up a "GeoFence" that will help pinpoint the location of individuals who are wearing a Bluetooth bracelet or ID badge in a care facility.
Two students did not walk away with deals, but benefitted from alumni insights for future business plans:
- Ryan Murphy, a sophomore, and Baqer Aljabr, a senior, are both majoring in engineering technology and mechanical design. Their idea of an autonomous robot "rover" that will provide parking security and attendant services in large, ticket-enforced parking lots was too early in the development phase for investors.
- Jarrod Cain, a senior majoring in finance, business analytics and intelligence, and management of information systems, who is creating a scheduling application that matches students to professors based on course structure, declined an offer from the investors.
The event was the culmination of 10 weeks of preparation during which students, called hatchlings, were paired with alumni mentors to develop their business ideas. Mentors included faculty Dr. Pascal Bizarro and Mariana Mitova '04, '08 and business leaders Albert Caperna '76, Art Curtis '71, Bruce Fisher '68, Paul Hooker '75, Edward Leedom '89 and Bob Venzel '76, '78.
In addition to the deals, one student, Alyssa Batch, received an Eggy for getting the most online votes in a “People’s Choice” vote. Alli Hoag, an instructor in the School of Art at BGSU, made the Eggy.
The sold-out event was streamed to 201 watch parties across the country and world; the video is available online.