Good business despite bad times

Pamela Crimbchin

Kent State students and graduates have success during recession

A recession may be the best time to start a business, according to Kent State students and graduates.

Julie Messing, director for the Center of Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation, said a down economy presents the “perfect time” to start a business.

“There’s still a need for things, you just have to evaluate what are the needs in this market,” she said.

Messing said the economy is forcing people into entrepreneurship companies because companies are going out of business, leaving people unemployed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is the highest it has been in 10 years at 8.1 percent.

“People, in order to survive, are going to be launching their own business, finding their own way to put food on the table,” Messing said.

Kent State students and graduates are using the recession to help gain experience by starting their own businesses and working to make sure the following businesses succeed.


Inkling is a student-initiated business that started as a class project for four entrepreneurship majors in Entrepreneurial Experience 1 in Fall 2008.

The company, located in Room 221A of the Student Center, offers soy printing, soy cartridges refills for printers, banana paper, scented organic pencils, energy efficient light bulbs, homemade vintage handbags and other items for green-friendly students.

With environmental concern continuing to grow, Inkling is not as affected as some businesses by the economy.

“We have been doing, I think, good,” said Lea Koehler, sophomore entrepreneur and marketing major. “I said from the very first day … even just making a penny is so worth all my time, effort and everything.”

It also helps that the employees of Inkling are unpaid, even though they hope to be successful enough to make a profit someday.

“If we make a profit we will get a share of that into our tuition,” Koehler said. “But starting it was way too much to even think about paying ourselves.”

To help stay afloat in the economy, Inkling is sticking with its going green theme while also trying to make its prices comparable to that of the Kent State Campus bookstore and other school local supply stores.

Flash Flix

Flash Flix is a movie rental company run by students through the John S. Brinzo Entrepreneurship Lab in the Business Administration building.

At Flash Flix, students and university employees pay a one-time membership fee for unlimited rentals each semester. The company also offers one-time rental fees of $1 or $2 per movie. Flash Flix offers new releases and other mainstream movies on DVD.

“It’s something to offer to students to kind of keep them on campus,” said Sarah Fredrick, senior managerial marketing major. “Or if they don’t have a car and can’t get off campus to rent a movie, it makes it easier for them.”

Like Inkling, Flash Flix started as a classroom project last semester. The students did not have to go through with their idea, but some students thought Flash Flix was a good idea, so they decided to start it themselves. The business opened to the public this semester.

“It’s run by students, operated by students (and) completely developed by students,” Fredrick said.

Flash Flix has paid employees and managers, but has not seen any effect of the recession on its profit.

“We are targeting college students who live on campus, so it’s not like they have tons of money anyway,” Fredrick said.

Kent Campus Cash

Kent Campus Cash was started by two Kent State graduates after they looked at the relationship between small town businesses and the university.

“I saw an opportunity that Kent could use something like this,” said Shawn Kaplan, a 2008 Kent State graduate and part owner of Kent Campus Cash. “I’ve seen a lot of other mediums that can’t really reach out to students.”

Kent Campus Cash works with businesses in the Kent area to find and create deals and events for Kent State University students. Once the company has the deals or events, it posts them on its new web site,

“We created a medium where the students can go and find some good deals, where they can save a buck or two and still go to the places they are going anyway,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan said Kent Campus Cash was started in October 2008 because of the recession. Small town business are usually not able to pay the high fees it cost to advertise, so Kent Campus Cash tries to make its cost as low as possible for businesses.

“It’s very, very reasonable for the amount of exposure they get,” Kaplan said. “It’s so easy to get a return on the investment and some.”

Without the recession exposing the need for a more affordable way to advertise, Kent Campus Cash would probably not be having the success it is.

Creative Minds Marketing

Creative Minds Marketing works to customize marketing plans for local Kent businesses to reach students on campus.

It is a student-initiated business developed entrepreneurship majors in Entrepreneurial Experience 1 during the Fall 2008 semester and launched at the start of the Spring 2009 semester .

Creative Minds Marketing is similar to Kent Campus Cash because the student workers behind them saw the need for cheaper marketing for off campus businesses to reach students on campus.

“Our goal in starting this company was to link the two and because we are students running the business, we can get past a lot of the regulations the University has to sponsor an event,” said Shreyas Gosalia, who triple majors in senior marketing, business managerial and finance.

Gosalia said Creative Minds is good for both parties involved – students can learn about new businesses they have never heard of and businesses can get their names to the campus to increase sales.

The students are working on planning an event on campus where all the businesses they represent can attend and get their word out on campus.

The recession has not affected Creative Minds marketing very much because it has just started. Gosalia said the company is still working on getting its name out there and letting business know that they are here to help.

Go2Go Taxi

Go2Go Taxi service helps people in the Kent area travel in an affordable manner around town in seven- or 12-passenger vans.

The company was started by Doron Kutash in August 2007 after he graduated from Kent State with a bachelor’s in business management in 2005 and a master’s in business in 2007.

Kutash realized a local need for transportation for students while volunteering with Main Street Kent, an organization focused on revitalizing downtown Kent.

“Kent is where I have been for eight years now,” Kutash said. “I want to do big things for Kent before I am done here.”

Originally, Kutash wanted the business very close to campus, focusing on the students at Kent State. However, he soon realized there was a greater need for transportation in the surrounding areas, such as Akron and Ravenna.

“I would not have been able to stay in business if I just served the campus,” Kutash said.

The most important part of Go2Go taxi is the safe rides at night for people who are going out to bars and parties around Kent, but the business also gives transportation to airports, shopping trips and group events.

Kutash has been able to keep its rate at $2 per trip for two or more people throughout most of the recession. However, the winter weather caused him to raised the price to $3, but the drivers did not accepts tips.

“The way that we can make the business work at $2 is because we are very efficient,” Kutash said. “We work at a high pace.”

To keep prices low during a recession, the drivers wait for no one.

“If you are on time and ready to go, you get the ride,” Kutash said. “If you are not, you miss it.”

Contact features correspondent Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].