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The Hatch 2019 sets a record for money invested

Six BGSU student entrepreneurs are pledged $100,000 to fund their business ideas.

It was a record-breaking night at The Hatch™ with more than $100,000 pledged to six student entrepreneurs to fund their business ideas. It was the most money ever invested in a single year for The Hatch. 

In a format similar to “Shark Tank,” eight Bowling Green State University students pitched their businesses to six alumni investors in front of more than 1,000 people in the Stroh Center on April 11. 

The program was broadcast live on WBGU-TV and livestreamed internationally. With Hatch watch parties across the country and around the globe The Hatch was trending worldwide on Twitter.

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Pictured: Jacob Clark
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Pictured: Laura Dworning

The student entrepreneurs, or Hatchlings, were selected from more than 100 BGSU student applicants. For more than two months, the Hatchlings worked with business experts and their alumni mentors to research and develop their business ideas and pitches for The Hatch. 

Jacob Clark, a senior in the College of Education and Human Development, received funding for his innovation, Decoyl, a retractable decoy weight system that can attach to any duck decoy. Gary Dible ‘97, owner of Biggby Coffee franchises in Bowling Green and Maumee, served as Clark’s mentor.

Laura Dworning, a senior in the College of Health and Human Services, was funded for her wearable health technology business, Sevas, a bracelet for children with Type 1 diabetes to monitor blood sugar levels through Bluetooth technology. Dworning was mentored by Jeff Swartz ‘77, M.D., medical director of the Falcon Health Center.  

Philip Forrest, a College of Business junior, pitched his business idea, SplitPax, a backpacking rig that redistributes pack weight between the front and back of the body, and was funded to take his concept to incubation. Paul J. Hooker ’75, former owner of SFERRA and founder of RallyCap Sports, was Forrest’s mentor. 

Blade Frisch, a graduate student studying special education and computer science, received funding for his business, Spoken, a mobile communication assistance app. Frisch was mentored by Ed Leedom ’89, senior vice president of Harbor Fund Distributors. 

Savannah Hinde, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, pitched her T-shirt business, Esther & Light, to support women in ministry to investors and received funding for her business. Hinde was mentored by Bob Venzel ’76, ’78, co-owner of Venzel Communications Inc.   

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Pictured: Michael Johnston

Michael Johnston is a College of Arts and Sciences freshman and received funding for his innovation, Set-N-Swivel, an electronic device holder for tablets, smartphones and e-readers that adheres to a bedside wall and swings out for hands-free viewing. Johnston also received the “Eggy” award, winning the fan-favorite vote. Sophia Jarrell ’16, ’18, founder of Black Swamp Fine Arts School, served as Johnston’s mentor. 

Ramsha Rashid is a College of Business senior and pitched her business concept, Toy Box, a toy rental company. Although the business was not funded by alumni investors, Rashid was encouraged to refine the concept and pursue her venture. Rashid was mentored by Bruce Fisher ’68, retired vice president international with Hayward Pool Products division of Hayward Industries. 

Aubri Reiniche is a sophomore in the College of Education and Human Development and developed “Build a Book,” a customized e-commerce book for children. While she did not secure funding, investors praised her for the concept. Reiniche was mentored by Christian Piazza, ’15, ’16, financial adviser with Wilcox Financial and Wilcox Sports Management. 

With six of the eight Hatchlings moving to incubation, the alumni investors funded more Hatchlings in this year’s program than ever before. 

The investors were Nico Cottone ’92, owner of SurfTech Inc. and Euclid Refinishing Company; Dr. Michelle Drerup ’00, director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center; George Heath ’87, retired group president at Sherwin-Williams in Cleveland; Earle Malm ’71, retired senior executive at HighMark Capital Management Inc. and entrepreneurial consultant and adviser; Mark C. West ’90, CEO of SharedClarity; and Matthew P. Yourkvitch '99, founding partner of Moore Yourkvitch & Dibo. 

The Hatch is hosted by the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at BGSU, one of 20 centers worldwide recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Since the program's inception, more than $600,000 has been pledged to student startups through The Hatch. 

Entrepreneurship Week

The Hatch was part of a week-long celebration of entrepreneurship at BGSU. Entrepreneurship Week, known as E-Week, is an annual opportunity for thousands of BGSU faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners to come together in a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship. 

During E-Week, four honorees were inducted into the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame: William Dabbelt '78, David Hainline '83, and Robert W. '65 and Patricia A. Maurer. The honor recognizes BGSU graduates, honorary degree holders and members of the regional community who have achieved distinction for founding, leading or building a new business enterprise for five years or more. 

The week culminated with the sold-out Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship, featuring the theme “Blockchain: The Next Big Disruptor is Here” and keynote speaker Don Tapscott, the co-founder and executive chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute. Other blockchain experts from Walmart, Microsoft and Accenture Operations spoke at the event. Alumnus Mark Berman '74, '76 was the luncheon speaker. He is an international financial services consultant and a former U.S. and U.K. regulator. The Sebo Series attracts highly successful, world-class entrepreneurs to campus to share their messages with more than 600 business and community leaders, students, faculty and administrators. 

New this year, the Women in Entrepreneurship Panel highlighted four outstanding women business leaders and innovators with strong ties to BGSU. College of Business students led the Insiders’ Luncheon and an update on the progress of the Robert W. and Patricia A. Maurer Center for alumni and friends of the college.

There were several opportunities to engage with the College of Business and successful entrepreneurs during a series of E-Week Lunch and Learns. Additionally, Mark West, CEO of SharedClarity and a Falcon Investor for The Hatch, served as the entrepreneur-in-residence.