How Rising Tides Are Raising All Entrepreneur-ships

Lindner students form a community of enterprise across UC

The path to entrepreneurship is one of many twists and turns. From securing funding to failed ventures and creating business plans, numerous hurdles mark this journey, deterring many would-be entrepreneurs. But for this select group of students, these challenges are their biggest motivators.

Piloting a value-oriented venture

The iSurvey team embodies the interdisciplinary foundation of entrepreneurship. Founded by Dwijen Shah, BS ’24, a business analytics and biological sciences double major, and Vikram Mishra, DAAP ’24, during the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Startup Weekend, the two developed an interest in creating a venture that would help to empower those in the agriculture community with a focus on sustainability.

Shah and Mishra developed the idea for iSurvey, a hardware and software solution to detect invasive species on farmlands. Their idea has only skyrocketed from there, earning $15,000 in funding from the 2023 Cincinnati Business Achievement Awards and $2,500 from the center’s New Venture Championship. Shah and Mishra hope iSurvey will create more efficient farming practices, increase crop yields and produce a suite of products to aid in sustainable farming practices.

Finding a heart for entrepreneurship

Tahta Fofana, BBA ’25, a marketing student with a minor in fashion studies, has always been inspired by her heritage. Her parents immigrated from the Ivory Coast, where an entrepreneurial mindset is indispensable and widely celebrated. Originally an industrial design major, Fofana developed her own entrepreneurial bug after interning with the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Working with Kate Harmon, executive director, Center for Entrepreneurship, El and Elaine Bourgraf Director of Entrepreneurship, Fofana hoped to develop a makeup bottle designed for creating custom foundation shades for people of color. Although this venture remained close to her heart, Fofana found greater passion in championing other students like herself. Soon she launched Women in Entrepreneurship (WiE) through the center to help support her fellow students in pursuing their own ideas. And she’s still chasing her own dreams with a new venture that she hopes to bring to light soon.

I’m passionate about entrepreneurship because I really enjoy the idea of having a hands-on experience where I’m learning about business models, business plans, target audiences, my ideal customer and creating a purpose within my own work that I can introduce to the community.

Tahta Fofana, BBA '25

Entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs 

Preston Rhodes, BBA ’24, spent his summer leading up to his third year at Lindner fascinated with the possibilities presented by the software as a service business model (SaaS) and was energized to capitalize on this concept.

Luckily, Rhodes had the support of his fellow student entrepreneurs to get his venture off the ground. Rhodes worked with Jaden Walton, BBA ’24, the Center for Entrepreneurship’s student entrepreneur-in-residence. Walton helped Rhodes to refine his business plan and polish his pitch. Together the two developed the idea to offer Rhodes’ Neoteric Solutions to other student entrepreneurs and on-campus organizations, providing these entities access to Neoteric’s solutions for automation, website development, customer relationship management and more. 

Photos by Suzanne Buzek, Joseph Fuqua II and Danielle Lawrence.