Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneurial Expo features Voinovich School, regional entrepreneurial programming

Elizabeth Harper
November 2, 2017

More than 200 participants from around the region attended the second annual Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneurial Expo at Marietta College on September 29, eager to learn from a wide array of keynote speakers, presenters and panelists.

Faith Knutsen, Voinovich School director of social innovation and entrepreneurship, and Jennifer Simon, executive director of regional innovation for Leveraging Innovation Gateways & Hubs Toward Sustainability, led a workshop for 35 participants on the Venture Model Canvas, a one-page tool that helps entrepreneurs map out the steps necessary to create a new business without creating a full business plan.

“It worked very well because the participants were all really engaged,” said Knutsen. “They offered their own professional experiences and innovations for communal discussion, which was a wonderful way to apply the framework to a real and relevant setting.”

Other workshops focused on topics such as using social media, developing a brand and creating innovation. John Glazer, representing TechGROWTH Ohio and the Social Enterprise Ecosystem, and John Voorhies, representing the Small Business Development Center, were both part of a panel about financing business ventures.

The event's keynote speeches were relevant to new entrepreneurs and longtime business owners alike. Local entrepreneur Charles L. Pickering talked about social entrepreneurship and his work with solar energy installations locally and globally. Entrepreneur, business adviser and best-selling author Carol Roth used her many business experiences to discuss and debunk myths surrounding entrepreneurship.

“Some people think if you're going to be an entrepreneur, you just get to work for yourself,” Simon said. “Roth definitely went through everything and said, ‘The reality is you work for your customers and you work for your employees, and then you work for yourself.’”

TechGROWTH Ohio, the Social Enterprise Ecosystem, and the Leveraging Innovation Gateways & Hubs Toward Sustainability program were represented at the vendor showcase, where participants mingled between sessions. A unique attraction was the Betabox, a mobile makerspace. Those who visited it experienced a hands-on lesson in building and design, each leaving with a souvenir they made themselves.

Knutsen and Simon both praised the Expo’s increasing participation and programming, which provided many opportunities for participants to learn about all stages of entrepreneurship, strengthen their skills and decide what their next moves will be.

“The idea was, as we're talking about entrepreneurship, to discuss new ideas and how to move them through the entrepreneurship process,” Simon said.