VentureCafe_September 17, 2015_students_top photo
Students take notes on how to find good venture ideas

Ohio University – a catalyst for entrepreneurial growth

Four things entrepreneurs must do to evaluate a venture idea

Jasmine Grillmeier
September 23, 2015

Lee Groeschl’s first business idea was to develop a line of scented candles targeted to men, as there was a lack of “manly scents” available in the candle industry. However, he did not go through with it. Why? After extensive evaluation, the product and sales strategy would not have made a strong enough profit to outweigh the costs of production and commercialization.

Groeschl went on to start three successful companies and has been involved with more than 100 technology-based ventures and $65 million of syndicated venture financing. Based on this expertise, the Center for Entrepreneurship asked Groeschl, executive in residence at TechGROWTH Ohio, to speak at the first Venture Café of the 2015-16 academic year on how to find good venture ideas.

Groeschl listed four keys to evaluating a venture idea: “1. Research your idea, 2. Look into any existing intellectual property, 3. Complete an analysis of the market, and 4. Develop a commercialization strategy.”

Anyone who has an idea for a business or product and is trying to determine if it’s a viable concept should go through those steps, Groeschl told the attendees. Additionally, Groeschl encouraged the attendees to make sure they are putting energy and research into determining if the idea will succeed, because at the end of the day they will have to make a decision whether or not to scrap it (like Groeschl did with his candle line idea), or pursue a plan of action to develop it. 

“Entrepreneurship is tough,” Groeschl said. ”That is why you have to commit fully.”

The hour-long session garnered a great response from those who attended.

“I found Lee Groeschl’s presentation very inspirational,” said Colin Espinosa, an accounting major at Ohio University. “It was great to see not only the entrepreneurial expertise of Lee, but also his outlook on the industry and Ohio University specifically.”

Groeschl has been working in Athens for seven months at TechGROWTH Ohio, an organization facilitated by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and funded by Ohio University and Ohio Third Frontier with the mission to help entrepreneurs and aid in business development.

“I like the concept of being a catalyst for growth, and with great resources, faculty, and students at Ohio University, I think there are great possibilities,” Groeschl said.

This Venture Café was just one of many to come, with eight other sessions scheduled by the Center for Entrepreneurship during the academic year. “These sessions are a great place to network with fellow students, entrepreneurs, and business professionals, and you get to meet a lot of interesting people and hear interesting ideas on top of it all,” said John Herbert, a mechanical engineering student and hopeful entrepreneur who has attended numerous Venture Cafés.

The next Venture Café will be 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Oct. 13 in Baker University Center 240/242 and will cover, “Protecting Intellectual Property Rights.” A panel of three will speak at the event: Sue Purvis, supervisory patent examiner and university outreach team coordinator at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Todd Harrington, chief intellectual property counsel and associate general counsel for Battelle Memorial Institute; and Bob Silva, director of technology transfer at Ohio University.

The rest of the Venture Cafés are as follows:

  • “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 Jan. 20
  • “Technological Innovation Challenges” with John Bowditch on Feb. 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” on April 20

To find specific times and places for these events and many others happening at the Center for Entrepreneurship, visit www.ohio.edu/entrepreneurship.