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Breakfast and an opportunity: Student starts company thanks to connection made at Hub

From starting his company senior year to becoming profitable nine months later, Ryan O’Shea ’23 credits his success to connections made as a UD entrepreneurship student at The Hub Powered by PNC Bank.

"There's a lot of work and hardships in entrepreneurship, and the people at The Hub, including the members, were willing to help and guide me," O'Shea said. "I enjoyed it and I'm glad that UD is pushing entrepreneurship students to meet local business owners and entrepreneurs in the area.

"Because of it, I'm now working for myself and living out my dream."

O'Shea, owner of Black Swamp Internet Marketing, learned to build websites, improve search engine optimization and create social media strategies from J.D. Whitlock, a local entrepreneur and owner of Certified Organic SEO.

Whitlock, who is also the chief information officer for Dayton Children's Hospital, was looking for an intern for his business when he met O'Shea. The two connected at Entrepreneurs at the Table, an event at The Hub, funded by an endowment from Jim '58 and Esther Eiting to help local entrepreneurs and UD students network and learn from each other.

"It made sense for my business to include UD students from the ground up, not as an afterthought," Whitlock said. "The students are learning the skills I need them to learn for social media management anyway; what I'm teaching them is the business model, and how I want them to interact with [clients] and come up with a social media management plan. It's something a good intern can do 95% themselves after a little bit of guidance from me."

An entrepreneurship student with a background in computer science, O'Shea's experience was, according to Whitlock, exactly what he needed. Guidance turned to mentorship during the course of a year before O'Shea took flight and started his venture, but not without support from Whitlock.

"He encouraged me to start my own company similar to his business model and move it to my hometown, Toledo, Ohio," O'Shea said. "He took me under his wing as a result of that [event] and convinced me to slowly start building. Now I'm at the point where I have five of my own clients, and have plans to grow in the near future."


News and Communications Staff