UC Blue Ash College

Entrepreneur Speaker Series

The stage at one of the Entrepreneur Speaker Series events

Please check back on this page for updates on the next upcoming event. You can see information and recordings from past ESS events below.

The UC Blue Ash Entrepreneur Speaker Series features local business leaders who have turned an idea into an extremely successful venture. These are interactive presentations that encourage questions from the audience, providing important information for business leaders or anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. All presentations are free and open to the public.

We're also pleased to offer an archive of past ESS events, with descriptions of each speaker and a condensed recording of the event. 

Past ESS Events

Graeter's Ice Cream CEO Richard Graeter

For more than 150 years, Graeter’s has been synonymous with Cincinnati. We heard from President and CEO Richard Graeter about how this family business was born and how it continues to thrive today.

As a member of the fourth generation of the Graeter family to own and operate the business, Richard Graeter is dedicated to the family tradition of making ice cream, while embracing new opportunities and technology to grow the business. As the brand champion for Graeter's, he has worked with his partners to revitalize the company's brand identity to reflect the quality that consumers have come to expect from Graeter's super-premium, hand-packed ice cream, as well as to create a cohesive look for ice cream, candy and bakery products. He has built a successful online web store, shipping ice cream, candy and other products next day air to customers, including many celebrities throughout the United States. Since becoming CEO in 2007, Graeter's has expanded nationally, opening a new manufacturing plant in 2010 and doubling its company-owned stores with the acquisition of new locations in Dayton and Columbus

Panel: Getting Your StartUp Started

From business accelerators to developing a new business in your part-time, our guests shared their experiences and helped the audience learn how to go from idea to execution. 

Our special guests:

  • Nancy Aicholtz, CEO/President, Aviatra Accelerators
  • Jen Morales & Jason Stitt, Founders, Mixicles
Headshot of Nancy Aicholtz

Nancy Aicholtz, President/CEO, Aviatra Accelerators

Headshot of Jason Stitt and Jen Morales

Jason Stitt and Jen Morales, Founders, Mixicles

Panel: Weathering the Storm: An Entrepreneurial Venture from Inspiration to Innovation

Rick Pescovitz and Kelly Mahan
Founders, Under the Weather

Sitting in the cold rain at a youth soccer game, Rick and Kelly saw a real-world need for portable temporary shelter – and their business was born. Learn how this husband and wife team took an idea and turned it into an industry-leading product – the SportsPod®. They’ll share their journey from inspiration to invention to innovation, with successes and pitfalls along the way.

Panel: Entrepreneurship with a Mission

  • Craig Young - Inspiring Service, Founder & Exec. Director
  • Joel Bokelman - ChangingGears, President
  • Lauren LaCerda Merten - Social Venture Partners, Exec. Director

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Panel: Built in Blue Ash

Ryan Rybolt - CEO, Infinitech

The audience listened to Ryan Rybolt discuss his decision to leave a secure career to start Infinitech and revolutionize the payment processing industry.

Carla Eng - President, Abstract Displays

Carla Eng talked about how overcoming adversity has made her a better leader and positioned her company as a leader in its industry.

Panel: From The Ground Up

From coffee to market research to craft beer, our panel of business owners found a niche and created their companies from the ground up.

  • The audience heard them talk about why they thought the time was right to launch their startup and how they continue to grow their business.
  • What it takes to make it and the potential pitfalls you need to avoid.
  • Gained incredibly insightful information for any current or prospective entrepreneur.

Tony Maas - JTM

Learn about the business model that turned a butcher shop into an international, multi-segmented food-processing company. Tony Maas talks about how his family relied on core principles to make their dream a reality, and how you can do it too.

Patty Brisben - Pure Romance

Pure Romance is a thriving international company that specializes in relationship enhancement. It was created 20 years ago by Patty Brisben and maintains its corporate headquarters in downtown Cincinnati.

Craig Kurz - HoneyBaked Ham

Thank you to Craig Kurz, owner and board member of the Honeybaked Ham Company and Café, for sharing his insight on how a family-owned business with one store grew into a household name with more than 460 locations across the U.S. We also appreciate Craig bringing delicious Honeybaked Ham sandwiches for the reception!

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LaRosa Family - LaRosa's Pizza

Buddy LaRosa, the founder and chairman emeritus of LaRosa's Pizza, and his sons Mark and Michael, are the featured guests for this installment of the UC Blue Ash College Entrepreneur Speaker Series.

Jeff Wyler - Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

Jeff Wyler, Chairman & CEO of the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family, will share his tips for starting a new business, some of the secrets to his success, and other valuable information in a free presentation at UC Blue Ash College.


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