Distinguished Entrepreneurial Guest Speakers


Allen Zaring IV (April 20, 2010)

On Tuesday, April 20, 2010, Allen Zaring IV, (second from the left) Managing Director of Currency Insight, Ltd., and a member of our executive advisory board, met with 40 students to share his insights associated with starting, operating, and exiting businesses.

He identified four critical themes that students need to consider when starting a business: (1) Do you really have a differentiated value proposition?, (2) Have you identified, and do you understand the decision-making unit of your targeted customer?, (3) Do you have a ready source of capital?, (4) Do you have a defined path to profitability?

As far as operating a business goes, it is related to riding a motorcycle. There are two kinds of motorcycle riders: (1) those who have fallen down, and (2) those that will fall down. Remember, you are going to make mistakes when operating your business. Once you fall down: (1) get back up, (2) learn from your mistakes, and (3) apply what you learned to improve the performance of our business.

Allen also shared some valuable insights relative to exit decisions: (1) Is your business scalable?, (2) Do you have capital constraints?, (3) Are the barriers to entry low – if they are you are subject to new competitors.


David Lafkas (April 15, 2010)

On April 15, 2010, David M. Lafkas, Patent Attorney, from Lafkas Patent LLC, met with our entrepreneurship students to discuss the different methods and the implications associated with intellectual property rights. Some of the interesting insights derived from the students are as follows:

Chris Collins – actually, it might be more important what you do with an idea than it is to protect it. The only time it might be worth getting a patent is with a break-through idea that might change an industry.

Steven Betters – getting intellectual property protection is a long process that could take up to three years. David said he gives a lot of credit to those who do some solid research before coming to see him. I plan to use the resources he suggested before seeking legal advice.

Desmond Wilson – before applying for a patent ask yourself how long your product or service might sustain a competitive advantage. If the product life-cycle is short, then the patent may not be worth the effort.


George Gordon (April 6, 2010)

On April 6, professor George Gordon met with four teams of students that are in the process of writing formal business plans. Professor Gordon shared some valuable insights associated with his experience as a long-time business owner and operator. Here are some examples of what the students learned from the discussion:

Joe Kenney - "a business plan is absolutely essential... you should be constantly reverting back (to your plan) to check your progress."

Chris Collins - "do an in-depth market analysis... even take the time to experience your competitor's business." This can be especially helpful when re-positioning a business: "you can't be all things to all people."

Alexa Baumann - "always have an exit strategy... It is easy to forget about this aspect (of the plan) and doing so could get you in serious trouble. It is hard for me to determine an exit strategy for a business (I really want to start) because I dream of it lasting forever, but I know that is not practical. I will need a complex exit plan because I will not only be concerned about my business, I will be concerned about my customers."


Earl Waltz (March 9, 2010)

Mr. Earl Waltz of the Urology Group of Cincinnati - a physician organization owned and operated by thirty-four urologists - was a guest speaker on March 9, 2010. One of the most interesting insights shared by Earl was the tremendous opportunity that a combined business / health care background provides students. According to the McKinsey Global Institute in less than a decade "Baby Boomers" (born 1946 - 64) in the U.S. will be 51 to 71 years old.

The "boomer" households 50+ years old will also represent 84% of the prescription drug market and 74% of the medical fees and services market. They will also account for 40% of the consumption, 46% of income, and 58% of net worth in the U.S. Clearly health care for "boomers" presents both a significant business opportunity and an opportunity to make a difference.


Lisa Fitzgibbon (March 31, 2010)

On March 31, 2010, Lisa Fitzgibbon ( front row, 5th from the left), President and Chief Executive Officer of Easter Seals Work Resource (ESWR), and its subsidiary, Building Value, met with four teams of students that are in the process of developing their formal business plans. Both ESWR and Building Value are private non-profit businesses. ESWR empowers people with disabilities and disadvantages to increase the quality of their lives through employment. Building Value (www.buildingvalue-cincy.org) is a building materials re -use center that salvages quality materials from deconstruction, demolition and renovation projects, as well as retailer and distributor overstock, for resale in a retail store open to the public.

At the beginning of her presentation she made it clear that "non-profit" is a tax status, not a business strategy. She also emphasized two "bottom-lines"- a profit bottom line and a mission bottom-line. Lisa said entrepreneurs encounter many situations in business where a conflict exists between both bottom-lines. She advised the students to defer to the mission of the business when encountered with those situations. She also encouraged the students to think big when they are designing their business models. Lisa encouraged the students to go big, because going little is almost as much work and going little doesn't serve enough people.


Steve Deiters and Lauren Anderson (November, 2009)

The Creative Department is an ad agency that has built business by breathing life into brands and framing communications in delightfully compelling ways - whether traditional, interactive or guerrilla. Sara Schmidt shares one of the most significant insights extracted from the discussion that Lauren and Steve had with the students, "Insist on integrity above all things. Having and maintaining integrity is one of the most important elements to operating a successful business. Our delivery service must be honest and transparent to our customers, suppliers, and investors. If the business promises to pay X dollars back to their investors and have a scheduled payment plan, the business must be sure to follow the plan accordingly. If not, the investors will more than likely take their money elsewhere."