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Successful entrepreneurs, OHIO alumni inspire students, dole out advice

Friday, February 12 2016 12:00am

This year’s two Konneker Medal recipients returned to campus last week to share equal parts inspiration and advice with students from the Center for Entrepreneurship, a partnership between OHIO’s College of Business and Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

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By Brianna Wilson and Pete Shooner

At a special ceremony Wednesday, Winston Breeden III, ‘93, and Joseph Jachinowski, BSEE ‘79, received the medal, which is awarded annually to Ohio University faculty, students, or alumni with demonstrated excellence in innovation, invention, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

On Thursday, the duo took time to engage with their fellow Bobcats. Jachinowski, president and CEO of Mevion Medical Systems, a privately-held company that aims to offer affordable and compact proton therapy systems for radiation treatment of cancer, shared his story over breakfast with Russ College student leaders. 

“I was struck by how he made so many important career decisions based on following what he was passionate about, even if that meant making a leap which wasn't guaranteed to pay off,” chemical engineering junior Caroline Wilson said. “He's a testament to the fact that if you work your absolute hardest at something that you really care about, your career will prosper as a result.”

Jachinowski then joined Breeden, founder and CEO of Winston Products, LLC, a company with six consumer brands that aims to provide innovative product solutions, for a panel luncheon with students from the Center for Entrepreneurship, where the advice hit a rapid-fire pace.

Don’t miss the top 5 takeaways from the panel: 

1. Be ethical

“You have to be ethical in business. Be relentless with your business ethics in all that you do.” - Jachinowski

2. Identify a problem

“Entrepreneurs often jump ahead by inventing a solution before understanding the problem. Know and understand the problem–and the economic benefits of its solution–before moving forward.” - Breeden

3.  Know your risk profile

“For my first start-up, I had a good risk profile: No kids, no educational debt. I’m better off financially now than I was then, but the risk is higher because I have a family. That’s why I think we’ve seen a shift toward younger entrepreneurs. When you’re young, it’s the right time to start, because you don’t have as high of a risk profile.” - Jachinowski

4. Commercialize

“A lot of people have great ideas, but don’t know how to commercialize them. Seven out of ten entrepreneurs could make it if they took the time to learn marketing and sales. Do that and take what you’ve learned here [Ohio University], and then choose a niche industry to specialize in, and you have a much better chance of succeeding.” – Breeden

5. Sweat

Equity, that is. “I received great advice when I first started: Sweat equity. So we focused not on capital but on building our company, and it paid off.” - Jachinowski

Find out more about the Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.

Jeff Zidonis contributed to this story.