OWU program supporting student entrepreneurs


Ohio Wesleyan University is launching the Carol Latham Bishop Ventures program this fall to support any OWU student interested in becoming a next-generation business trailblazer.

The Latham Bishop Ventures (LBV) program reimagines and expands the former Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars program created in 2017 to support promising young entrepreneurs specifically selected each year to participate in the program.

“We’re excited to announce Latham Bishop Ventures because it increases opportunity,” said Destiny Coleman, M.S., administrative director of The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship, which oversees the new program. “LBV enables every Ohio Wesleyan student to explore their entrepreneurial interests regardless of their majors or ultimate career goals.”

Matt Vollrath, D.B.A, the Louis A. Simpson ’58 Endowed Faculty Director of The Woltemade Center, said Latham Bishop Ventures provides a “comprehensive entrepreneurial ecosystem” that utilizes seminars, hands-on workshops, competitions, faculty and alumni mentorship, and more to foster and grow the entrepreneurial culture on campus, attract and retain entrepreneurially minded students, and create a community of students passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Through experiential learning opportunities, we want to prepare students to turn ideas into business plans so that they can confidently launch and grow their ventures,” said Vollrath, who also serves OWU as an associate professor of Business Administration.

Those learning opportunities include Pitch OWU, an annual competition that lets students pitch their business ideas to a panel of expert judges. After making their five-minute presentations, the students answer questions for three minutes, with the top three finishers earning monetary awards of $1,000, $750, or $500, respectively. Ohio Wesleyan hosted its second annual Pitch OWU competition Oct. 25.

Earlier this semester, Latham Business Ventures hosted its first lecture with Tracy Gorham, founder and CEO of ConexED. Her company has created web applications that today serve more than 3 million active users and also formed partnerships with 100 colleges and universities, and 1,100 tutoring centers in 12 countries.

Yet to come this academic year, Coleman said, is the Woltemade Big Problem Challenge, which invites students to create a market-oriented plan to improve the water quality of the Ohio River and/or Lake Erie. Students are starting to brainstorm their solutions this fall, with the competition set for Feb. 29, 2024. The winner will earn a $3,000 prize to pursue their proposal.

“Latham Bishop Ventures is a collaboration that involves The Woltemade Center, the OWU Connection, the Department of Economics and Business and its Entrepreneurship faculty, and the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University,” Coleman said. “Working together, these entities create an environment that enables students to unleash their entrepreneurial potential and turn their dreams into tangible achievements.”

Latham Bishop Ventures is supported with funding provided by OWU alumna Carol Latham, Class of 1961. A chemistry major at Ohio Wesleyan, Latham is the retired founder, president, and CEO of Thermagon, Inc., a custom manufacturer of high-performance heat-transfer materials for electronic components. Under her leadership, Thermagon grew to sales of $18 million annually worldwide.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Woltemade Center also offers an Economics Management Fellows program open to incoming freshmen, an Accounting and Finance Fellows program for students interested in the financial field, the Corns Business and Entrepreneurial Scholars program for students with entrepreneurial aspirations, and the Community Research Fellows program that links OWU students with community organizations that could benefit from the students’ expertise.

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Woltemade Center at www.owu.edu/woltemade and more about the university’s Department of Economics at www.owu.edu/economics.

Submitted by Ohio Wesleyan University.

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