New Hatch students to be announced Nov 20

Natasha Ivery and Natasha Ivery

A program based off of the TV show “Shark Tank” offers University and Firelands students the opportunity to get their ideas funded by a professional entrepreneur.

The Hatch program is in its third year at the University and is sponsored by the College of Business. It allows students to apply and pitch an innovative product they believe is marketable. Once accepted into the program, they are matched with a mentor and endure a 10 week process leading up to the night of the presentations.

“This is the third year for the Hatch at BGSU,” said Kirk Kern, director of the Dallas-Hamilton Center in the College of Business. “The idea came when the Dean [of the College of Business] and I sat down and talked. We wanted students to have an opportunity to have experience in a co-curriculum outside the classroom to be an entrepreneur and start their own companies, so we came up with the Hatch.”

The Hatch program gives students the chance to have their product funded by an alumnus, providing not only investment opportunities but educational opportunities as well, with students being able to earn three credit hours.

The way the students present their ideas is set up the same as the NBC show “Shark Tank.” Kern and his team recently presented the Hatch to a conference in London. The Hatch program at the University is one of the only ones structured not only in the U.S. but the world.

“The application process is very simple, with a form and essay,” said Kern. “Once chosen, we match the student with an alumni mentor and they go through a rigorous 10 week process talking about developing their idea into market analysis, pricing/financials, blueprint and building a quasi-business plan. They have assignments due each Friday and a 24 step online process called ‘Incubation.’”

The Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Raymond Brown, said that the Hatch is one of the best programs to be featured at the University.

“I came to the school a little over two years ago,” said Brown. “I wanted a program that focused on student entrepreneurs and that’s where the Hatch was born. The first year, the actual presentation night of the Hatch was standing room only. Last year the ballroom was filled and this year we hope to pack the Stroh. We had some cool entries the first year-one guy had a food truck called Bueno Vita and a girl had Cribs on Campus, where students can order microwaves and dorm items in one package and have them delivered to their dorm. The first year we had 83 applicants. Nine were chosen and three were funded. Last year we had 100 applicants. 12 were chosen and 10 were funded. We had 67 watch parties all across the country and we trended number two on Twitter.”

This year, the new “Hatchlings” will be announced following the very last event of Global Entrepreneurship Week on Nov. 20.

“This year we’ll be in the Stroh,” says Kern. “We’re also having a high school video contest and those students will have a chance to follow a Hatchling. Our programs is in the ranks of Stanford and MIT. We’re having a trendy growth in this program and to graduate with a degree and your own business started already? That’s an amazing opportunity.”

Past Hatch winner and senior Loren Branch agrees.

“My product is VITAL Apparel, which is a clothing company designed to help revitalize the city of Detroit,” said Branch. “10 percent of all proceeds got to programs that do just that, such as the Young Detroit Builders and the Motor City Blight Busters. I asked for $7500 and received it as a loan with 10% equity. It was the best deal of the night, hands down. I even had counteroffers written on my hands. The Hatch was such a blessing. I just finished my Incubation. The most stressful part is last 10 days pulling everything together. But when you’re extremely passionate about your dream, it doesn’t seem like you’re working. On the night of the event, I made a playlist to get me going and made my roommate bring me my basketball which calmed me down. It was a roller coaster for sure but worth it.”

Senior Morgan Smith, another Hatch winner, has a similar viewpoint.

“I founded U-Mat Laundry and was given the full $8000 I asked for,” said Smith. “The program is structured but you have a lot of freedom as well. As stressed as I was, I was optimistic that everything would get done and I had my mentor by my side. The night of the event, I was nervous but excited because I knew that there was no one in the room, let alone the world that knew my product as well as I did. I spent roughly 25-30 hours a week on my project.”

Smith and Branch have some valuable advice for future Hatchlings.

“You get out what you put in,” said Smith. “Everyone wants you to succeed and is willing to work with you so never be afraid to ask questions or get help.”