John S. And Marlene J. Brinzo Center For Entrepreneurship



Employing an entrepreneurial mindset, we generate societal impact through top-tier research, innovative education and meaningful engagement with the business community. We are guided by our core values of excellence, accountability, collaboration, inclusivity and respect. 

The Brinzo Center is open to all, especially those who: 

  • Have an idea.
  • Are attempting a new venture.
  • Wish to incorporate their entrepreneurial mindset within a corporation.

About John S. Brinzo

Marlene & John BrinzoJohn Brinzo is the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Cliffs Natural Resources. Brinzo’s philanthropic commitment to Kent State began in 1969 with a $10 gift, just after he took a new position in a company that would be his home for the next 37 years, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. When John arrived at Kent State in 1960, he chose accounting as his major. However, he soon discovered an interest and talent in the areas of marketing and advertising, so he changed majors. He credits Kent State with providing the tools he needed to begin his long and successful career in business. John’s donations to Kent State have grown considerably since his first gift more than 50 years ago, with a specific focus on the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship. His gifts have funded the creation of the John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship.

He has also volunteered his time and business expertise as the first chairman of the college’s National Advisory Board. John Brinzo began his successful career in 1964 in the management training program at National City Bank. He joined Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the leading supplier of iron ore products in North America, in 1969 as a financial analyst. Through the years, Brinzo worked his way up through Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., being named president and chief executive officer in 1997 and chairman of the board in 2000, a position he held until he retired in 2006.

He has since served on seven corporate boards, including the Brinks Company and Delta Airlines. He and his wife, Marlene, have two children and five grandchildren.



  • Funding opportunities
  • Entrepreneur-In-Residence (E-I-R) services and mentorship
  • Student Organizations
  • Open, collaborative working spaces and conference lab
  • Team of supportive alumni in specialized industries
  • Dedicated business resource librarian and research station
  • Monthly mentoring sessions with business owners
  • Networking with top local entrepreneurial organizations


The Brinzo Center offers business advising and mentorship to student, faculty and alumni business owners, both in person and virtually.

Schedule an Advising Appointment



Shawn Rohlin PH.D. - Director of The Brinzo Center, Professor of Economics

  • Research interests include studies on how government policies impact local economic factors, such as business location decisions. He received the Junior Scholar Award from the Lincoln Land Institute in 2011. In 2012, he received the David C. Lincoln Fellowship in Land Value Taxation. His research earned the "Most Outstanding Paper" in 2011 for Public Finance Review.




The Spring Business Pitch Competition will be held in The Kiva from 4-6 p.m. on April 23, 2024.


  • The Idea Pitch

    The Idea Pitch

    Every fall semester, the Brinzo Center hosts an idea pitch competition that focuses on ideas for products or services not yet making revenue. The Ohio Innovation Fund has donated seed money to ensure that each finalist wins a cash prize. In addition, the first-place winner will earn a guaranteed spot as Pitch Competition finalist in the spring. 

  • Spring Pitch Competition

    Spring Pitch Competition

    Every spring semester, the Brinzo Center hosts a Shark Tank style pitch competition to support student startups. If accepted, students go through a three-month long mentoring program designed to help them grow their business, craft a professional business pitch and get exposure to business and entrepreneurship experts. Students have the chance to win up to $20,000 in cash prizes.




The Student Venture Funds were established to help support student-initiated businesses that have been approved by the John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship. The Venture Assessment Grant is geared toward students with a proposed business while the Venture Growth Grant is intended for students that have a completed business plan, feasibility analysis and are committed to launching the venture. For more information on how to apply for the Student Venture Funds and Venture Growth Grant, please email

  • Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF)
    • NEOSVF gives students the opportunity to understand new venture creation by teaching them the due diligence on companies they are investing in. Learn more about NEOSVF. If you are interested in joining, please email Kent chapter president Grant Schuchter at
  • Sigma Nu Tau Honor Society
    • Sigma Nu Tau Entrepreneurship Honor Society is a student organization for accredited universities. Its mission is to be a collegiate honor society that recognizes students, faculty members and entrepreneurs who have either excelled in the study of entrepreneurship or who are exemplary models of principled entrepreneurship.
  • The Murray Conerby Memorial Endowed Scholarship
  • James and Phyllis Difiore Endowed Scholarship
  • Tim Eippert Endowed Scholarship For Entrepreneurship
  • Tim Eippert Second Endowed Scholarship in Entrepreneurship
  • Donald S. Grant Travel Award and Scholarship
  • Link Keehfus, JR. Memorial Scholarship in Entrepreneurship
  • Ray's Place Scholarship


KSU Entrepreneurs in the News


Chris Vogt

Christopher Vogt is a senior finance major at Kent State University and was the third-place winner of the 2022 CEBIpitch. Christopher is the founder of LinkApp. As seen on Grant Cardone's show, Tech Tank. LinkApp already has thousands of downloads in 20 countries. The app provides a way for users to socialize with others in their area with geo-fenced chats, find hangouts and make plans with ease, through their immersive, real-life social media platform. 


Picture of alumni anne cate sowing her product

Anne Skoch, a 2018 graduate of Kent State University, is the CEO and founder of Anne-Cate; a Cleveland-based accessories boutique featuring Made in America city skyline silhouette purses and pillows. Founded in 2016, the Anne Cate skyline collection has expanded to feature purses, pillows and handbags with skylines of more than 125 cities, including Seattle, Chicago, Columbus and New York. All Anne-Cate products are handmade in small batches at her manufacturing studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Each product is created using sustainable and quality materials, sourced in the United States. Anne-Cate has been featured at maker's fairs such as The Cleveland Flea as well as in more than 80 museums, boutiques and department stores across the country. She has also made products for Hulu and Key Bank’s corporate office. Anne won first place in the second annual CEBIpitch competition.



    Interested in helping the Brinzo Center?

    We are always looking for other businesses, entrepreneurs, alumni and local businesses to help expand the Brinzo Center mission. 

    ACCBE Seal - Person Not Pictured

    Linda Hale - Marketing Manager of The Brinzo Center

    Phone: 330-672-7890


    Shawn rohlin

    Shawn Rohlin Ph.D. - Director of The Brinzo Center, Professor of Economics

    Phone: 330-672-1098


    nick Petrella

    Nick Petrella - Entrepreneur in Residence

    Phone: 330-672-5826