Wolstein Summit

Business leaders, venture capitalists and established and budding entrepreneurs recently gathered at The Ohio State University to discuss two key and far-reaching questions: “Why not us, and why not now?”

The questions were central to nearly every facet of the 2017 Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit, hosted by The Ohio State University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Held at the Longaberger Alumni House, the second-annual event explored pathways to entrepreneurship in Ohio, bringing together leaders and bright minds to discuss ways the state can foster new ideas, technologies and solutions.

Following a welcome from Fisher Dean Anil Makhija, Tim Keenan (BSBA ’80), an entrepreneur and a longstanding supporter of entrepreneurship at Ohio State, addressed the summit. He noted that the CIE is positioned to provide the leadership, the programs and the access to create an entrepreneurial economy and elevate Ohio State as a thought leader and a place where theory meets practice for the betterment of the people of Ohio.

“The Wolstein Summit is a fantastic opportunity for the entire community to see and learn about all the ways our university, city, region and state is moving forward as leaders in the innovation and entrepreneurship spaces,” said Paul Reeder, executive director of the CIE. “Thanks to the Wolsteins’ incredible support here at Ohio State, we are providing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders with the curriculum, projects and connections to make a real difference in the lives of others.”

2017 Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit

The event welcomed back to campus Shawn Springs, founder and CEO of Windpact, an impact protection company developing safety technology to be used in sports, military and recreation equipment. Springs, an Ohio State alumnus and former NFL player, spoke of the skills needed to persevere as an entrepreneur as well as the importance of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems such as the ones available at Fisher and Ohio State.

Citing the Wolsteins’ support of students and programs, Springs said today’s young entrepreneurs are getting the experiences and building the networks that are key to success.

A panel discussion featuring five current and former Ohio State students and Wolstein Scholars demonstrated how support of entrepreneurship curriculum and experiences is making an impact in the local community. From educating incarcerated individuals on how to launch their own businesses, to creating technology to combat infant mortality, the projects illustrated the interest and passion for entrepreneurship among students.

The Summit also provided an opportunity to learn about the very latest in the Smart Columbus initiative, as Jordan Davis, director of Smart Cities at the Columbus Partnership, shared the organization’s vision for the future of automation in Columbus, particularly through transportation.

Gene Smith, senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletic Director at Ohio State, spoke about another facet of the Wolsteins’ philanthropy at the university — their generosity in support of student-athletes.

The Summit featured a panel of venture capital experts that discussed the growth and promising future of entrepreneurship in central Ohio and included:

  • Falon Donohue, CEO, Venture Ohio
  • Wayne Embree, executive vice president, Rev 1 Ventures
  • Rich Langdale, partner at NCT Ventures
  • Cheryl Turnbull, senior director, Venture Capital and New Ventures, The Ohio State University Technology Commercialization Office

Zeenia Kaul (MBA ’16) presented an update on her company, ReHeva Botanicals, Inc., which debuted at the 2016 Wolstein Summit. Kaul founded ReHeva as a biotech startup which is focused on developing a botanically based treatment for various types of cancer. It is currently pursuing FDA approval to begin human trials.

“Our students represent the next great generation of entrepreneurs,” Reeder said. “In a room full of entrepreneurial leaders and venture capitalists, I was proud to see these students and young alumni sharing their hard work, enthusiasm and perseverance as they seek to turn their passions into professions.”