Student, alumnus create start-ups online

Alexis Wohler

Kent State has had its share of entrepreneurs – people who develop an idea and do whatever it takes to bring it to fruition. Carleton Whitmore and Ben Wolford provide examples of Kent State entrepreneurs who have created start-up ventures in the digital realm.

Club Hub 101

Whitmore, a junior entrepreneurship major, started the website Club Hub 101, a social networking site for students to communicate and interact with each other in different clubs and organizations.

“Any student could search their school in a search bar and see a list of clubs,” Whitmore said. “Clubs can communicate with other clubs, as well.”

In high school, Whitmore tried to get students to come to meetings for a school organization, but they couldn’t attract attention. He then thought of the idea to get people involved in organizations without hanging posters or being forced to go to meetings.

Whitmore came up with the idea for Club Hub 101 in 2012 while he was starting out as an entrepreneur.

“Its been a very long process to get the website to where it is now because I’m a full-time student,” he said. “I’ve been doing competitions, raising funds and I’m completing the website one phase at a time.”

Right now, Whitmore is working on the test version of the website and is working on raising the funds to create a fully operational website. He has had help from Blackstone LaunchPad, his family and his friends to generate funds for his website.

“I’ve had assistance from Blackstone and a mentor, but I’m the only entrepreneur working on this business,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore said his startup will be able to connect people more efficiently.

“The aspect that inspired me about making this website was the ability to connect people and give them hope that there are better ways to do things,” Whitmore said. “It’ll give the clubs a sense of confidence; that they don’t have to waste time putting up flyers and time-consuming events such as different organizational affairs.”

Whitmore said he is most proud of the fact that he is only a second-year student, but he already has support from a lot of faculty and student organizations for his website. He is also proud of the fact that his business has made such an impact on the viewpoint different organizations have.

Whitmore said now the businesses and organizations are able to develop themselves with his website.

Latterly Magazine

Wolford, the founder and editor of Latterly Magazine and 2011 graduate of Kent State, said he started building the website on a Friday and had it published the following Sunday. He came up with the idea for Latterly Magazine in 2014 and built it the same year.

“We’re still a tiny outlet, which is fine because we don’t publish more than two or three features per month,” Wolford said. “I’m the only full-time employee, and I have a copy editor who works with me on each issue plus, two or three freelancers for each issue.”

Latterly Magazine is an international storytelling media outlet, where each monthly edition focuses on global reporting and coverage of different issues.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Wolford said. “We’ve published original narrative journalism from more than 20 countries, and we have nearly 300 subscribers. I’ve met some incredibly talented freelance writers and photographers, and there have been dozens of people who’ve contributed in ways big and small to the success of the magazine.”

Wolford said his dream and drive to become an entrepreneur started with his dad.

“Most of the people on my dad’s side of the family are writers, and I was encouraged to read and idolize writers from a young age,” Wolford said.

In college, Wolford studied newspaper journalism and wrote for The DailyKent Stater.

“By the fall of my senior year, I was the DKS editor, and I ended up having three internships, including at The Boston Globe,” Wolford said. “One thing led to another. Eventually, I was freelancing in New York, and my wife and I decided to cut loose and move to Bangkok. I found work at The Bangkok Post, which had lenient hours and gave me the free time to start Latterly.” 

In the magazine’s first month, Latterly Magazine had more than 100 subscriptions. Wolford said without ads and expensive subscription costs, he got the most help from Kickstarter, and ended up purchasing Compass Cultura to increase their subscriber base. To be more sustainable in the long term, Wolford also launched Latterly Creative.

Whitmore offered some advice to give on young entrepreneurs wanting to begin a business: “Through your perseverance and your belief in your idea, no matter what other people think, as long as you believe in it, then I’m sure it’ll make a difference.”

Alexis Wohler is the CCI reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].