Kirk talking to camera

Student startup ideas take flight during The Hatch

Alumni investors back student ideas, offer business advice

brandon bayes hatchBrandon Bayes

marissa brubaker hatchMarissa Brubaker

jacob clark hatchJacob Clark

kirk talks to hatchlings 

Daunch TJ HatchTJ Daunch

ashton johnson hatchAshton Johnson

katie linger hatchKatie Linger

sean and jake hatchSean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker

By Kandace York

Bowling Green State University student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to alumni investors during The Hatch on Sept. 10, vying for funds to launch their businesses in a format similar to the television show "Shark Tank."

This was the eighth year for the event in which alumni investors make equity investments providing real money for students to launch real businesses. To date, more than $600,000 has been committed to student startups.

COVID-19 delayed this year’s event, but students and organizers turned the challenges into opportunities. Students pitched via video submissions and negotiated with investors from a remote location through video conference. A “Ziggy Wall” of virtual supporters replaced the live audience. These changes enabled the event to broadcast live from the new Robert W. and Patricia A. Maurer Center, the new state-of-the-art home for the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business.

The student entrepreneurs, called Hatchlings, came to this night after working with mentors, mostly BGSU alumni, for several months. These mentors coached the students on their business ideas, plans and presentations.

The 2020 Hatchlings’ business ideas stretched from networking platforms and women’s fitness apparel to accessible shoes and wastewater filters. 

Meet the 2020 Hatchlings and find out how they did:

Brandon Bayes

Can Stand and Waste Weight
Bayes’ duo of ideas included anti-tipping mechanisms for trash or recycling cans to reduce the contents blowing over in windy or otherwise unstable situations.

Result: Investors backed Bayes’ ideas at $5,000 for 5% equity.

Marissa Brubaker

Forever Evolving
Brubaker’s business idea is a sports bra that functions as a comfortable high-impact garment in the gym, while crossing over to a stylish bra for everyday or professional use.

Result: Investors backed Brubaker’s idea at $10,000 for 10% equity, with additional negotiations made during the event.

Jacob Clark

Save-a-Shot
Clark’s business idea is a newly designed shotgun shell box that protects a hunter’s ammunition from the elements, making it a safer and cleaner shell to shoot.

Result: Investors recommended incubation for Clark’s idea so that it could be further developed; Clark counter-offered with a request for a future “ask” following incubation. Investors backed this idea with $5,000 for 5% equity.

T.J. Daunch

Cordination
Daunch’s business idea is a cord and wire organizer that neatly coils cords and stacks together to create a tangle-free, organized experience. 

Result: Investors passed on Daunch’s business idea, primarily because of existing marketplace competition.  

Ashton Johnson

Zip-A-Dee-Shoe-Dah
Johnson’s business idea is a customizable shoe with a zipper that simplifies putting it on, taking it off and accommodating orthotic braces.

Result: Investors passed on Johnson’s idea but offered some suggestions to further refine its application for future use.

Katie Linger

CircleU
Linger’s business idea is a networking app to help college students expand their social connections, so that they and colleges benefit from the realization that infinite meaningful connections lie just beyond our own social circles.

Result: Investors recommended incubation for further development, accompanied by $5,000 for 5% equity.

Sean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker

Aalto
Working together, O’Donnell and Stucker developed an agricultural filter that attaches to ditch drainages and field tile outlets. This device will filter pollutants from runoff before they enter bodies of water and cause complications, such as the 2014 Toledo water crisis.

Result: Investors recommended incubation for further development, accompanied by $5,000 for 5% equity.

Hatchlings and recent graduates Rachel Hannah and Zach Miller opted not to pitch at this year’s Hatch but offered their advice and reflections via video to the other Hatchlings.

This was the first Hatch without Brian Sokol ’82 and ’84, former associate director of BGSU's Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, who passed away from brain cancer in July. Sokol was a Falcon Investor for The Hatch since its inception and a passionate entrepreneur who developed a number of consumer and industrial products. During this year's event, $25,000 was raised for a memorial scholarship in his name, with funds matched by Dean Raymond Braun and Dr. Theresa Popp-Braun.