Students get paid back for smart investment


If it weren’t for the $25,000 loan Wastebits received last year from the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF), the burgeoning local startup might not exist. Instead, the 18-employee company, which produces software that organizes waste disposal for generators, transporters and waste management, is turning profits. Wastebits is even able to pay back its $25,000 NEOSVF loan, and did so at the ARCHAngels Investment Network meeting Feb. 18 at Quaker Station on The University of Akron campus.

Student Venture Fund check

Erik Willett, Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund managing partner (left), accepts repayment of a $25,000 loan plus interest from Dan Collins, founder and CEO of Wastebits. The NEOSVF awarded the loan to promising local startup Wastebits about a year ago. Today, the company employs 18 people. Photos by Tyeal Howell

 “The NEOSVF provided us the needed funding to be able to accelerate our growth in 2014. Without their help, Wastebits would not be where we are today,” says Dan Collins, its founder and CEO.

In making its decision to loan funding to Wastebits, the NEOSVF took into consideration the considerable size of the market, and the industrial expertise and dynamics of the Wastebits team along with their desire to grow rapidly and make a positive impact on Northeast Ohio, according to Dan Hampu, a University of Akron School of Law alumnus who recommended the investment in Wastebits and serves as an adviser to the fund.

Brian Davis

Dr. Brian Davis, chair of UA's Department of Biomedical Engineering, spoke before an ARCH Angels Investment Meeting audience on Feb. 18, discussing how Akron is driving the northeast Ohio biomedical boom. Davis focused on UA technologies designed to solve clinical problems, such as sensors to assess a patient’s risk for diabetic foot lacerations, and work under way to commercialize this and other technologies that tackle clinical problems.

The NEOSVF began operations in 2009 on the UA campus. Founded by graduate students from the College of Business Administration and the School of Law, NEOSVF at UA is comprised of 16 graduate student members who debate the merits of startups that present for the chance to receive up to $25,000 in funding.

NEOSVF expanded in 2014 to create chapters at Case Western Reserve University, College of Wooster, Kent State University, Notre Dame College and Walsh University. Each fund chapter includes students from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, resulting in well-rounded discussions who draw upon varying perspectives and types of expertise. UA’s chapter has students who are studying polymer science, finance, law, chemistry and public administration.

After a short presentation from each of the startups, NEOSVF members vote on which startups should go through an in-depth inspection known as due diligence, which identify any problems or “red flags” in the company. Each chapter typically explores two companies in-depth, giving students an opportunity to see firsthand what makes startups tick and to exercise their critical thinking as they debate a startup’s strengths and weaknesses.

NEOSVF has received support from Burton D. Morgan Foundation and Ohio Third Frontier. In addition to previous investments in The Learning Egg and Paragon Robotics, NEOSVF recently announced plans to invest in Event-38 and GiveNext.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or