OWU Location 2023
Wesleyan student-entrepreneurs in Ohio compete for funds to support businesses
The winner of Ohio Wesleyan University’s second annual Pitch OWU student entrepreneurship competition plans to create a mobile coffee shop “serving joy, one cup at a time.”
Senior Ava Hurd from Grove City, Ohio, with a double major in business administration and psychology, won $1,000 to support the creation of CHARA, a mobile coffee shop that would showcase its offerings directly to consumers at children’s soccer games and other outdoor events.
“Have you ever been to an outdoor sporting event early in the morning because your team had the unfortunate 8 a.m. game, it’s freezing outside and all you want is something warmth in your hands and a little pick-me-up? Hurd asked the Pitch OWU judges during his five-minute timed presentation.
CHARA would come to the rescue, she explained, rolling across the grass and heading toward fans sitting on the sidelines to provide them with coffee, hot chocolate, tea and other drinks. Over time, she would like to add food, with a pre-order option. Revenue would come not only from product sales, but also from event fees charged to organizations that hire CHARA.
“What’s really going to make us most unique is our customer service,” Hurd said. “CHARA means ‘joy’ in Greek, and that’s what we’re going to strive to offer our customers, just a little extra joy every day.
Hurd was one of 10 Ohio Wesleyan students pre-qualified to present at the OWU Pitch, competing for cash prizes of $1,000, $750 and $500 for the top three. The competition is part of Ohio Wesleyan’s Latham Bishop Ventures (LBV), designed to support any OWU student interested in becoming a next-generation business pioneer. LBV is supervised by The Woltemade Center for economics, business and entrepreneurship.
After OWU students completed their presentations at the October 25 event, they responded to three minutes of questions posed by the OWU Pitch judges: Cliff HurstWesleyan Assistant Professor of Economics and Business from Ohio; Barbara MacLeod, professor of business administration at OWU and CEO of Golden Seeds; And Drew Pang, product manager for Quantum Health, based in Columbus. Pang is a 2015 OWU graduate and a member of the Woltemade Center Alumni Advisory Board.
Judges awarded honors to the first runner-up and $750 to the junior Landon Kuhn from Lewis Center, Ohio, with a major in business administration and a minor in finance. An OWU men’s soccer midfielder, Kuhn sought funding to launch “My Soccer Coach,” an app that would grow and streamline his coaching business, Footy Academy, and offer his clients “a cheaper alternative to private training. My Football Coach would include free sessions for players of all ages and abilities, pathways to track their progress and optional paid coaching sessions with video feedback.
Judges awarded second runner-up honors and $500 to juniors Clint Johnson from Urbana, Ohio, a double major in mathematics and chemistry, and Ron Netawat from Indore, India, with a double major in mathematics and physics. They were looking for funds to help them develop their invention, “SoyShield.” It is a sprayable, plant-based polyurethane coating intended to prevent corrosive chemicals such as road salt and plant fertilizers from damaging vehicles, agricultural machinery and manufacturing equipment. The clear, bio-sourced product promises: “Soy Strong. The corrosion is over.
Other students participating in the Pitch OWU entrepreneurship competition were:
- Junior Aubrey Dunham from Minerva, Ohio, double majoring in business administration and fine arts-art studio, presenting “Just a Pinch, The Grocery Store to Fight Food Waste.” Dunham is looking to create a store selling foods in smaller sizes and quantities to help control costs and waste.
- Junior Kylie Linville from Delaware, Ohio, with a major in Business Marketing and a minor in Accounting, presenting “Linville Consulting”, a plan for growing one’s existing business, which helps small businesses solve their marketing problems and provides training on platforms for make them more independent.
- First-year student Jacob Lowery from Cleveland, Ohio, majoring in business administration, introducing “Reflex Baseball,” a reinvention of his existing personal coaching business. Lowery founded Reflex Baseball in 2020 and wants to expand it to become “the Angi List of the baseball industry.” With the expansion, it would register other private coaches and provide them with a turnkey solution to connect with clients.
- Senior Melissa Murray from Chardon, Ohio, with a double major in biochemistry and pre-med, presenting “Flush Fun: Potty Training Made Easier.” Murray’s product would use a safe color-changing reaction to make potty training more appealing to young children.
- Second year students Shlok Mundhra from Dimapur, India, a double major in computer science and quantitative economics, and Dhruv Sekhawat from Delaware, Ohio, with a double major in Computer Science and Data Analytics and a minor in Economics, introducing “The Book & Bean,” a student-run evening coffee shop.
The 2023 event, hosted at Merrick Hall, was hosted by Destiny Colemanadministrative director of the Woltemade Center, and Matt Vollrathdirector of the Louis A. Simpson ’58 Endowed Faculty of the Woltemade Center.
“I want to encourage you to pursue your ideas,” Vollrath, also an associate professor of business administration, told the presenters. “There are many resources and opportunities here on campus. … Congratulations to all participants and the three winners!