Center for Entrepreneurship offers “Finding Good Venture Ideas” on Sept. 17

Some say there can be no great accomplishments without risk. The first step to turn risk into rewards is finding good venture ideas.

Learn how to evaluate ideas and then find the resources to transform any idea into a business opportunity during the first Venture Café session of the 2015-16 academic year. In his 10-year career, speaker Lee Groeschl has been involved in more than 100 technology-based ventures, more than $65 million of syndicated venture financing and has venture development and financing experience in life sciences, biotechnology, medical devices and software. Groeschl currently serves as an executive in residence at TechGROWTH Ohio.

The Venture Café session is taking place in Baker University Center 242 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17. Pizza will provided at the session. The event is hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship, a partnership between the College of Business and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs that leads TechGROWTH Ohio.

Venture Café sessions are open to all undergraduates, regardless of major, and allows aspiring entrepreneurs of all fields to explore best practices for entrepreneurship and business development in a casual setting. These sessions occur throughout the year and often cover a variety of topics.

Over the span of the 2015-16 academic year, the following nine sessions will be offered:

  • “Finding Good Venture Ideas” with Lee Groeschl on Sept. 17
  • “Protecting Intellectual Property” with USPTO on Oct. 13
  • “Building an Entrepreneurial Team” with Mike Langer on Oct. 27
  • “Understanding the Market Opportunity” with Kent Stauber on Nov. 12
  • “Lean Launch Methods” with Lynn Gellermann on January 20
  • “Technological Innovation Challenges” with John Bowditch on February 11
  • “Getting Your First Customer” with Michele Migliuolo on March 9
  • “Raising Capital from Investors” with Chris Gerig on March 23
  • “Managing a Growing Business” with TBD on April 20

To find the specific time and place for these events and many others happening at the Voinovich School, visit


Center for Entrepreneurship Pizza Social

Are you an entrepreneur?
Does starting your own business sound intriguing to you?
Do you like pizza?

If you said “yes” to any of those, join the Center for Entrepreneurship tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 3, for its first social of the school year! The event will take place in the Baker University Center, Room 240/242 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and free pizza will be provided.

Attendees will be able to network with fellow entrepreneurs, members of entrepreneurship clubs, and faculty. In addition, speakers will provide information about the Center for Entrepreneurship’s programs, certificates, and majors as well as events, trips, teams, and more. Don’t miss out on this fun event!

For more information, contact

A Hands-On Approach to Appalachian Biodiversity

By: Mathew Roberts

Excursions deep into the mountains and hollers of western North Carolina are not often associated with interdisciplinary adventure and personal growth, or are they? This summer, Ohio University faculty and staff created a course titled “Agroecology and Biocultural Diversity.”

The course was designed with interaction as a core concept. Students began with a basic history of Appalachia, domestication of species and seeds, and how culinary inclusion works as the lifeblood for building biological diversity and forest economy. Then, students embarked on a three-day trip with James Veteto, professor at Western Carolina University and executive director of the Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies. Veteto led the group through his North Carolina mountainside property, demonstrated the cultural diversity of his apple orchard, revealed time-honored Cherokee customs, and graciously fed the group with the fresh, local flavors of Southern Appalachia.

Appalachian culture has largely been built around poverty. Rugged forms of survival and community agriculture have been prevalent for decades, but these are now seen within the assemblage of naturalist appreciation.

“There is a certain humility and down-to-earthness necessary if you want to get anything done in the region,” Veteto wrote in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. While most class discussions focused on the history of farming, seed saving, and the cultural relevance of food, the greatest moments were spent reflecting about how these lessons can be applied to other issues as well.

Karly Strukamp, an undergraduate education student who took the summer course, will apply the knowledge gained on this trip to her work with middle school children.

“From this trip, I have gained confidence in facilitating these types of hands-on learning experiences,” she said. “When students are able to investigate what they are curious about, they are experiencing true learning.”

There also were more immediate lessons to be learned.

“We also were able to get to some of what us teachers like to call the ‘hidden curriculum,’” Strukamp said. “We were able to tell stories and invest time in our relationships — even with our teachers. At times, our teachers would acknowledge that we were actually teaching them something.”

Immersive learning and exploring one’s curiosity are inherent to this course. There is something beautiful about being right in the focal point of diversity’s potential.

“We were able to look at and touch the different plants and methods we were being introduced to rather than just seeing pictures in a book,” said Taylor Smith, another student who attended. “Environmental issues can be looked at from so many sides and it’s really great to have all those different views when you are talking about sustainable solutions.”

Going to the Appalachian Institute of Mountain Studies made us realize the lack of diversity in our hometowns. Upon return, many students spent the last two days of the course at Solid Ground Farm, a sustainable farm in Millfield dedicated to spreading knowledge about sustainable food and creating biodiverse forest gardens in the southeast Ohio. In addition to developing environmental solutions, spots like Solid Ground Farm are creating a new generation that values diversity. After the farm visit, students finished the course with a project or paper that incorporated the multi-disciplinary nature of the trip. As long as this program continues, Ohio University can be a part of instilling this critical value in future cadres of students.


Understanding the North Korean Human Rights Abuses and Moving Forward

By: Jim Blazey

On February 17, the United Nations released the most recent report  on human rights abuses occurring in North Korea. The report covered the starvation, violence, mistrust and exhaustion that occur within North Korean labor camps. The prisoners in these facilities range from South Korean soldiers and their descendants to people who have spoken out against the ruling Kim family or the government as a whole.

In addition, severe droughts in the 1990s coupled with the absence of Soviet-subsidized goods caused the North Korean economy to collapse and malnutrition to expand throughout the country.

This led me to consider: how can NGOs or governments possibly provide relief to individuals within these camps when they don’t have any access? How can these organizations provide food to individuals within the country while also creating opportunities for North Koreans to become self-sustaining? If I, the public manager of a nonprofit or government agency, am trying to consider the proper strategy to deliver value to these individuals, how can I make an influence on a country where the government is very suspicious of the outside world?

The seminar in Public Administration (MPA 6800) taught by Marsha Lewis at the Voinovich School helped me develop a strategy when tackling complex issues such as providing humanitarian aid to countries like North Korea. We discussed public value chain, a model that identifies the partners and co-producers in a situation, as well as the necessary inputs to solving a problem.

The example used in class was the Gates Foundation and its attempt to decrease malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. The partners the Gates Foundation sought were humanitarian groups in these countries, the manufacturers of mosquito nets, and volunteers. The inputs were the mosquito nets and malaria vaccines. The combination of the partners and the inputs leads to measurable outputs, such as reduced cases of malaria. After the output is measured, the long-term outcomes would be a healthier and more productive society.

So how does this model apply to North Korea?

In the case of alleviating the malnourishment that plagues North Korea, the right partner is China. If organizations collaborate with China to put pressure on North Korea, more aid can be provided to vulnerable citizens in the country. An example of this pressure is China not vetoing any proceedings of the U.N. Security Council on North Korea in March.

Successful implementation of smaller goals like this can then be used to assess how NGOs or agencies should proceed with long-term goals, such as laying the foundation for sustainable food sources that the country and eliminating the labor camps. This leads me to the last part of the public value chain: evaluating external environmental influences.

The external political influences are plentiful in the case of North Korea. The United States and North Korea have a contentious relationship, which could affect the way a U.S. organization works within the country. American NGOs and agencies are not alone in their concern about the humanitarian crisis in North Korea; China, Japan, South Korea and Russia are all interested as well. Another political influence is the provocative nature of the North Korean government itself. All of these factors must be considered

Issues regarding North Korea are not easy to solve. Public managers have to develop strategies to help their organizations successfully deliver value. Future public managers must be innovative, ambitious and willing to change the world for the better. No matter how daunting the task, the long-term positive outcomes will be well worth the effort in the end.

More information here:

Making Connections

By: Mat Roberts

As a student of the Kanawha project, a grant-funding initiative to advance carbon neutrality through the facilitation of climate literacy, I feel fortunate to be a part of pushing environmental dialogue into the classroom. Most of the Kanawha consists of faculty, some from other branches, seeking to add climate change context into their syllabi. As one of six students, our job is to share what we know to the professors and to be the student perspective in decision-making.

The great part about this community is the opportunity we all have to share distinct perspectives on climate change. I am the editor of College Green Magazine, an independent online publication dedicated to bringing the most provocative and engaging environmental news. I met many professors during the first Kanawha gathering who were interested in the vision I have for College Green Magazine in the future: bringing about greater awareness of climate change and showing how to live a sustainable life. At the time, the main problem was finding enough staff members to produce a viable media product and I expressed this concern deeply. The fact is, understanding climate change language is difficult.

Excited as I was to talk to these professors, I am pleased to say the response to my passion excited me even more. Craig Meyer, professor of rhetorical English, reached out to me beyond the Kanawha project to develop a project of his own in his current writing in environmental sustainability class. The students in his class, as part of a large portion of their grade, will be producing content for College Green Magazine.

The goal is to create an incentive to take this course, not only because students can learn more about climate change through the efforts of Craig’s participation in the Kanawha project, but can also leave with a valuable portfolio piece published in a student-led environmental publication. In return, I have been receiving new ideas each day. Some students will be working on a series of articles to turn in weekly, while others will choose to create a much larger product for the magazine. Because the students feel like they are part of something bigger than their grade point average, I feel like making connections like this is part of the solution towards improving climate change literacy.

My main goal would be to have this partnership in every ENG3100J course at Ohio University. With the partnership, creating content becomes a stress of the past. With all of the saved time, I envision College Green Magazine providing services to further enhance interest in environmental studies such as a comprehensive jobs and internships board, a research resources page connected with the Alden library databases, and a shared student and community eco-events calendar. All of this to say: if you have an idea for the common good, do not ever give up.


What Kind of Manager Will You Be?

By: L Volpe

I was asked the other day about the quote “Silence Is Exhausting” (Robyn Ochs) that closes all of my e-mail communications. As I launched into my explanation — that every person, no matter who they are, deserves to be heard, taken seriously and treated with respect — I found it to be a wonderful representation of what my education and master’s degree from the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs means to me.

Through all of my classes I have taken in the MPA program, my professors have stressed the responsibility we are taking on by becoming leaders in the public/nonprofit sector.  The roles that we will be stepping into have the potential to make a difference in a significant number of peoples’ lives.  We are giving a voice to individuals who may not have one.  Keeping in mind that “Silence is Exhausting,” we need to make intelligent and productive decisions that create public value.

I feel that this type of training is going to be an asset for us as we apply for jobs.  Anyone can step into a managerial role, but the MPA program is setting us up to be progressive managers who will push the public/nonprofit sector forward.  Remembering “Silence is Exhausting” is what makes me passionate about the mission of the organizations I am interviewing for and the difference I can make by performing my job to the best of my abilities.

I continue to be surprised by how much I have learned and grown through my experiences at the Voinovich School. The School has pushed me out of my comfort zone in my classes and given me the opportunity to gain practical experience as an intern with a number of organizations in the Athens area.  Taking a step back and seeing the difference that I have the potential to make in the public sector or a nonprofit organization empowers me to be the manager who gives people a voice and helps lessen the burden — the exhaustion — of silence in our communities.

Balancing on the Run

By: Emily Burns

I’ve never paid much attention to my astrological sign or the corresponding horoscopes. But, as I reflect on my first semester as a graduate student in the Voinovich School and look ahead to spring semester, I can’t help but feel thankful that I’m a Libra. The mystical scales that serve as the symbol of Libra are thought to evoke a sense of balance, harmony and peace.

I’ve often heard it said that school of any type is a balancing act, and I think that holds especially true for graduate studies. I find myself juggling quite a few responsibilities at the moment: working as a graduate assistant for the university, applying for summer internships, training. for the Athens Marathon, and last but certainly not least, attending actual classes

Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep at night with so many questions about my future near and far unanswered, but herein lies one of the main reasons I love to run:  It’s exhausting.

The main reasons I’ve put my adult life on hold for another two years is to learn, to go to class, to do homework and readings and write papers in the hope of understanding how to manage people, resources and expectations in the public sector. Still, there is nothing better than coming home after a long run, eating my body weight in peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches and succumbing to the kind of whole-body tired you can achieve only by running farther than you did the day before.  Waking up with sore legs is just an added bonus.

Finishing my first marathon is still one of the proudest moments of my life, and I imagine walking across the graduation stage with my classmates from the Voinovich School will be up there as well. Whenever the going gets rough and the scales seem imbalanced, there is immeasurable comfort in knowing that I can always go for a run and leave some of my problems with the pavement.

What Is Your Baggage?

By: L Volpe

I cannot believe it is already my last semester in graduate school. It feels like yesterday that I unpacked my life into my little rundown apartment over the sleazy local bar, and now I am getting ready to enter the real world again! I left a less-than-ideal work environment when I came to the Voinovich School, so I have some anxiety about what this new experience will entail.

During the first week in my Seminar Class with Dr. Marsha Lewis, she talked about how, upon entering our organization of choice after graduation, each of us will be carrying baggage from previous dealings with co-workers, events at their current organization, and past personal experiences.  This insight gave me a whole new perspective on workplace relationships.

Throughout my classes in the Voinovich School MPA program, we have talked a lot about being self-reflective and how important it is to learn from our successes and failures.  When Dr. Lewis brought up baggage, I realized that being self-reflective isn’t enough.  I not only need to understand my mistakes and how I would react to situations differently, but also ensure that my baggage or previous missteps do not dampen my future success.

When I came to the Voinovich School. I just had left a highly competitive and hostile working environment.  Because I was in this experience for more than three years, I brought that hyper-intensive attitude to my classes and came off as abrasive.  Through working with my mentor, Dr. Millesen, and experiencing many positive growths in the MPA program, I have been able to let go of that baggage and see the difference in environments, allowing me to gauge my reactions better.

I am also more aware of other people’s reactions to different situations.  In any event in the workplace, my previous exposures may lead to one reaction while my neighbor has a completely opposite one.  Being patient and having open communication with your co-workers is imperative to a successful work environment.  So keep in mind that everyone carries different baggage, and that we need to be respectful of everyone’s reactions to situations that arise, good and bad.

Big Data: The Heroine?

By: Mathew Roberts

The CE3 Brown Bag lunch series is coming to a close for the fall semester. CE3 Director Scott Miller and I have been brainstorming who would lead the talks in the spring and further build dialogue among students, faculty, and researchers. This past Friday, I finally found an open time to stumble into the multidimensional world of big data and how it plays out in environmentally related discourse.

Dr. Ani Ruhil, associate professor and associate director of Research and Graduate Programs, spoke at the CE3 Brown Bag lunch series last fall. He amazed me with his talk about the mass amounts of information the digital world has captured.

What I gained in this short lecture is how this discipline takes form as both risk and opportunity.  This world of cloud computing and storage, analytical predication, and coded language is historically unprecedented. Big data has done what journalism may have intended to do from birth: record man’s deeds and be the keeper of his conscience.

The total amount of information in existence is equal to roughly 1.2 zettabytes (or over 1.3 trillion gigabytes [1] ). Our everyday lives revolve around shuffling megabytes and gigabytes across borders and boundaries. The concept of all digital information as a real measurement is astounding.


Big data is increasingly important in the economy. Big players such as Google and Facebook make their fortunes by accumulating, analyzing, and selling users’ data, much like an investment broker does with stocks on Wall Street.

Big data is integrated into my own work as well. As a CE3 Undergraduate Research Scholar, I have had the great opportunity to explore data on Ohio’s competitiveness in energy production and restoration of local watersheds from acid mine drainage. Journalists are highly dependent on statistics and figures of national and local governments’ regulations, policies, and procedures. They take big data to convey messages in understanding the environmental impacts and how it can be taken to foster sustainable action. In my previous work in creative advertising, big data offered a way to pinpoint markets, test effectiveness, and share marketing research in an effort to create an advertising campaign for national and international brands. In the end, big data is all about predicting behaviors and translating data through analytical tools.

In today’s culture, data is being used to convey points, connect links and inform in the face of great political debate. The product of this initiative has manifested into “data visualization” and it’s becoming widely popular.

This analysis can be used to create a better tomorrow — for example, by saving thousands of lives by improving healthcare. But it also can create uneven distributions of power when people, corporations, or agencies begin looking in places they should not.

Which brings us back to environmental issues. I bring this up because of the irreversibility and costs of using data the wrong way. If we accidently mine too much coal or drill too many wells and create a bigger cost in cleaning up water, we will need more data and money to clean up what more data and more money created in the first place.

Dr. Ruhil believes the future of analytics lies in the hands of the public and grabbing on to hope for much needed social changes. One such innovation is Kaggle. Founded in April 2010, Kaggle is “a platform for data prediction competitions. Companies, organizations and researchers post their large files of raw data only to have it sifted and molded into the world’s best data-mined models.” Because the big data players will ignore rural governments and their communities, “there is an opportunity to make a change for the better by putting your brains to work,” Ruhil said.

Although these ethical questions need more time, public debate, and consideration, we can always find hope in further data innovation despite the dual pulls of fear and opportunity.

Data innovation is especially exciting for students across the globe. Born into the world of computers, the next generation of learners will face the same ethical and logistical questions that we see today. Are you up for the challenge?


Hearing the Future

By: Hannah Ticoras

I am a notorious eavesdropper. In high school I would to go to Denny’s after I got off my late shift at the movie theater and transcribe as many of the conversations as I could hear – drawing illustrations on the opposing page of the people or the stories they were relaying.

One of my favorite relationships to witness was this man who came in every night at midnight and the cook that worked at the same time (I don’t remember their names, let’s call them Rick and Julie). Rick would get three pancakes every morning, which could get very boring, except that the cook would create a different design on the pancakes. One morning Julie would make a smiley face out of chocolate chips, the next morning she would cut the pancakes so they looked like a heart, etc. Knowing that Rick’s lonely morning pancakes were made exciting by Julie lifted my own early morning spirits – there is good out there.

At my position as Undergraduate Research Scholar in Building 22 at the Ridges, I sit right outside the office of a main advisor for the MPA program. When I’m not listening to The Shins Pandora Radio — highly suggest if you like songs like this one:

— I can hear the meetings that go on between this faculty member and students. Each day I hear students come in with buckets of ideas – ideas hanging from their backs and running at their heels – ideas that all say this is how I will change the world.

Although I can’t transcribe the conversations, or draw illustrations to go along with them, I still listen fervently. These are students who want to create better drug and alcohol programs for K-12 students, build up the job force on American Indian reservations, and educate middle school students on healthy sexual behaviors. These are students who will create programs that will create a better space to live.

As they sit and tell the advisor all their ideas, she throws back organizations to look at, books to read, people to find. Slowly she shapes their wide berth of ideas into a manageable and powerful goal. Like Julie’s pancakes: Every student wants to do something different.

I come to the Voinovich School at Building 22 three days a week, and each day I am treated to a different vision of a new world. I hope that someday I will be able to create my own vision.

There is good out there, and it begins here.