Sara Clark had already decided to sell 25 percent of her Hatchling idea for $20,000 when alumnus Ed Reiter stood up from the crowd and offered to give the young entrepreneur $10,000.
The Hatch, which loosely resembles ABC’s Sharktank, gives University students the opportunity to turn business ideas into business ventures. This year, 10 students pitched eight products to six potential investors.
Clark, a senior intervention specialist major, pitched her product, the MagnaHalter. The halter replaces traditional clasps and buckles with magnet clasps. The magnet clasps are easier for people with fine motor skill limitations to use independently.
Joining Clark on stage was her friend Thunder, a miniature horse who lives where Clark works: Serenity Farms in Luckey, Ohio. Clark had been encouraged to share the stage with Thunder the horse by Kirk Kern of the business college.
Serenity Farms strides to enable people with disabilities to ride horses, citing the many benefits of an increase in flexibility, balance and muscle strength for riders with physical disabilities.
Though the investors liked the halter application of the magnetic clasps, it was the clasp design in which they were most interested. Both are currently patent pending in Clark’s name. Of the six investors, five offered to give Clark a collective $20,000 in return for 25 percent of future profits. The deal was nearly sealed when alumni Ed Reiter, who was sitting front seat in the audience, stood and offered a deal Clark couldn’t turn down -- $10,000 for 0 percent of future profits.
Reiter, a class on 1962 business education alumni, spent over 40 years working in banking, including his roles as CEO of Mid American National Bank and senior chairman of Sky Financial (formerly Mid American).
“I saw a lot of people get involved with giving away something that was really good for too little money,” Reiter said. “And I thought that this clasp and halter has an opportunity…to go back to Serenity Farms as a form of charity.”
Reiter and his wife Linda Reiter didn’t come planning to open up their wallets. In fact, this was the first time they have come to the event.
“I could feel that he was getting excited and I like projects,” Linda said. “I thought that (is) really a great project she is working on.”
Though the Reiters have never met Clark, their daughter-in-law volunteers at and knows Clark from Serenity Farms. The Reiters praised the efforts and cause of Serenity Farms.
After coming off the stage, Clark was emotional in reaction to the act of charity she had happened upon, and thrilled to be able to keep 100 percent of her business idea. However, she would have been thrilled to take the initial offer, too.
“I don’t care about making money, that’s not my goal in life,” Clark said. “Giving up 25 percent would not have been detrimental to me.”
One of the 6 investors of the evening was Earle Malm, class of 1971. He invested “less than he wanted to” during the course of the night, given the last potential investment was undercut by Reiter’s charitable offer. Though, he still managed to invest about $5,000 out of his own pocket.
Malm currently serves on the Service Marketing Institute Business Advisory Board for the college of business, and was one of the five original investors in 2013 when The Hatch first launched. He has sat in the investor’s seat every year since.
“I love to build business,” Malm said. “This is a good way for me to be able to give back, both in terms of my money and expertise to help students become successful and get started with their careers.”