WSU students competing for business startup funds


FAIRBORN — A T-shirt designer, baker, roofer, artist and inventor will participate in Wright Venture, the annual entrepreneurial competition in which Wright State University students vie for startup funds to support a new business.

The final Wright Venture presentations will be held on Thursday, April 6, at 3 p.m. in 160 Rike Hall. The event is open to the university community and the public. More information is available at

Hosted by the Raj Soin College of Business, Wright Venture is an entrepreneurial competition modeled after the reality competition series “Shark Tank.”

The students will pitch their business plans to a panel of experienced business executives known as the Wolves. The winner of the competition will receive $5,000 in startup funding.

Students in the Raj Soin College of Business and the Boonshoft School of Medicine will participate in the April 6 competition.

The students’ projects are:

The T-Shirt Factory, which sells T-shirts with positive and inspirational messages, by Shahriar Anwar, a graduate marketing analytics and insights student

A home bakery with plans to open a storefront business in the future, by Emma Beavers, an economics major

A roofing company servicing residential, commercial and industrial buildings, by Peyton Hoff, an entrepreneurship and marketing major

A software development and contracting business by Derrick Kaliney, a computer science major

Trouvality Artwork, by Allyson Whittaker, a public health major

A drinking can protector that reduces liquid spillage, by Andrew Wiseman, an entrepreneurship major

The goal of Wright Venture is to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and activity among students by helping them develop their business plans. The program also allows students to put into practice the lessons they receive in the classroom at Wright State.

The program creates an experience similar to an actual business startup, including mentorship, networking, creative idea development, product design, service creation, financial management, business planning and marketing assistance.

Students have spent much of spring semester preparing their presentations for the April 6 finals by participating in a series of entrepreneurial workshops, led by Wright State faculty and local experts, on business planning, finance, marketing and business operations.

“It’s a platform to allow students to bring their plans and dreams to life,” said Kendall Goodrich, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Marketing. “Because we have a whole setup for them, from an informational session to a number of workshops to mentorships to the experience they get with real-world entrepreneurs and feedback. Even if you don’t win, you’ll be able to use that feedback to keep moving it forward.”

During the competition, students also receive detailed feedback about their presentation and business idea from the judges.

“The feedback is really valuable,” said Tom Traynor, Ph.D., dean of the Raj Soin College of Business. “The judges are interested in making sure the students get valuable feedback in addition to the feedback they’re receiving from their mentors.”

Makenzie Burgan, an entrepreneurship and marketing major and president of the Entrepreneurship Club, said Wright Venture provides a useful learning experience for students, especially those who are not business majors. Learning about various business concepts through the program’s workshops is something students can use throughout their lives, she said.

“We brought in some great speakers for the workshops who offered a lot of valuable information,” Burgan said.

This year’s program attracted the highest number of participants in Wright Venture’s nine-year history.

The Wolves judging this year’s competition are Jonah Sandler, chief entertainment officer of Scene75, and two Wright State business graduates, Chris LaFountain, president of Glacier Industrial and Happi Energy and an adjunct faculty member in marketing, and Lesley Ott, chief operating officer and chief compliance officer of James Investment Research.

Students participating in Wright Venture are not the only ones who can benefit from attending the finals. Students who are curious about entrepreneurship are encouraged to attend the event to learn more about opening a business or developing a new product.

Past Wright Venture winners include Galatune, a strategy card game; Tumble, an on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service; and WrinkleFrinkle, which creates handmade wood-burned functional house decorations and metal stamped jewelry and keychains.

The Wright Venture program is funded by Barry James/James Investment Research and is organized by the Department of Marketing in the Raj Soin College of Business and the Entrepreneurship Club.

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