For this week of the Business Builder’s jam packed schedule, we were able to bring in Faith Voinovich, a Venture Associate at Ohio Innovation Fund. As a recent college graduate (2019), Faith decided to relate to us on a more personal level than usual by taking us through a timeline of where exactly she's been over the past 6 or so years. She then opened the floor with an ‘Ask Me Anything’ styled format Q&A. What you see below is the bulk of her shared knowledge.
Faith started her entrepreneurship journey back in 2013 when she and her friends created a business during highschool. They discovered an issue that women had with inaccessibility to appropriate undergarments and bras for business attire. Determined to bring about change, Faith and her friends started Bra Fusion to produce just that. Although the company got leeway and support, Faith ultimately decided to pursue a chemical engineering degree at Ohio University instead of taking entrepreneurship on full time.
Although Bra Fusion came to an end, she wanted entrepreneurship to still be a part of her life. In order to do this she became a member of the Stanford University Innovation Fellows Program over the course of her undergraduate career. This program championed her thoughts on design thinking, and taught her the importance of empathy and actually talking to the people affected by the problem you are trying to solve. She was able to raise over a million dollars through this program to fund and develop the first innovation space at Ohio University. This process came with a lot of red tape so during her time at Ohio University, she was also able to make it onto the Board of Trustees and see just exactly how the process of funding works and why it is such a complicated task. The program also led her to spend a summer giving back by teaching math and science to 8th graders in the Bronx. And of course, in order to not overwork her college experience, Faith was also able to study abroad in Barcelona for a summer and have the experience of a lifetime.
To cap off her college experience, Faith interned for the Ohio Innovation Fund and eventually acquired a position there after graduating in 2019. Ohio Innovation Fund partners up with bold and disruptive founders who are looking to create the industries of the future, right here in Ohio. When Faith graduated, she had to decide if she was going to stay in the Midwest or move out to more popular areas for entrepreneurship. Something about Columbus stuck with her and she made the right decision to stay and build up this emerging market here. For that reason, Ohio Innovation Fund was the perfect fit for her.
Ohio Innovation Fund is a triple impact fund that looks for three criteria. The first being that they are looking for venture capital level returns. Companies that have the ability to go out and scale very quickly. The second is that they look for these types of companies that are present in the backyards of universities. They do this in order to help support future students who want to join a startup and begin making a difference fresh out of college. The third is their student experience program that exposes students to the venture capital world.
Top 5 Ask Me Anything Questions
“How are Ohio Innovation Fund Internships different from the rest?”
“What advice do you have for aspiring students like us, who may want to rock the boat a little, but not have to go through university red tape to do so?”
“What things do you wish you utilized more in college?”
“Why did you major in Chemical Engineering?”
“How has your entrepreneurial experience helped you in the Venture Capital world?”
Ohio Innovation Fund is particularly receptive to students, whether it be an internship or an investment in a business idea, so make sure to check out what they’re all about at their website. If you have an idea or know someone who is serious about entrepreneurship and needs feedback, OIF is happy to look at pitch decks of students, critique them, and offer valuable feedback that will help grow your business/idea. They are even willing to conduct mock pitches with you and discuss how you can improve over a sit down meeting. They are the real deal people and this is a valuable resource that shouldn’t go unnoticed. When life hands you lemonade, drink that freaking lemonade. Never be afraid to start climbing that mountain of entrepreneurship. You would be amazed at the things that can happen when you simply just try. And with companies like Ohio Innovation Fund supporting you every step of the way, there’s no better time than now. Get climbing!