The Need to Succeed

Student entrepreneurs are driven to create and succeed in business – and Kent State can help

Entrepreneurs who have a passion to start their own businesses while they are students are in a league all their own. Kent State University has a number of students in that league. Many of them. Fortunately for them, Kent State also has resources at the university and college levels to help support these young entrepreneurs from concept to launch. 

Kent State Today reached out to four business owners who started their companies while they were students to learn what inspired them to begin and what motivates them to keep going. 

GenZbuzz - Terrelle Tettey

Terrelle Tettey, a senior computer science major from Columbus, Ohio, started his business, GenZbuzz, back in 2020. GenZbuzz is a self-improvement platform that Tettey created with the hope of using technology to leave a meaningful impact on people’s lives and help others improve themselves through useful articles on a variety of topics.  

Terrelle Tettey
Terrelle Tettey 

“It's something that I've been dying to create since my high school years, but when I finally got to college, I was like ‘let's do this,’” Tettey said.  

As Tettey started on his journey to create his company, he soon realized that it was going to take more work than he realized. That’s when he heard about LaunchNET Kent State in the DI Hub and the resources that were available to him there.  

“Initially, I kind of was biting [off] more than I could chew. I was thinking about marketing and how to get funding to pay for the different services to keep the platform running and all of that,” Tettey said. “It wasn't until I heard about LaunchNET that I decided to go talk with Zach [Mikrut], the director, and he briefed me on what they do and how helpful they could be to the project I was working on.”  

Tettey pitched his plan at LaunchNET’s elevator pitch competition, where students present a business plan for a chance to win a monetary prize to help them with their business. Tettey didn’t win that year, but persevered by remembering why he started his business: to help people. Driven, he went on to win 2021 Fall Idea Pitch competition hosted by the John S. and Marlene J. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship in the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.  

Tettey recently applied for – and won – several grants from LaunchNET to continue funding his business. Looking to the future, Tettey hopes not only to keep expanding GenZbuzz’s audience but also to be a one-stop shop for people who are looking for self-improvement articles and tips. He also hopes to add new tools to the site and start a self-improvement podcast for GenZbuzz.  

Visit GenZbuzz 

330 SneakGeekz - Arrogant Cass

SneekGeekz was started by Arrogant Cass, a fashion merchandising sophomore, when she was 15 years old with a goal to focus on the culture of sneakers.  

“I'm doing this for the culture. We have people giving haircuts, sneaker resellers, designers, and music. It's a whole experience,” Cass said.  

Arrogant Phidd
Arrogant Cass

SneakGeekz is a sneaker and streetwear showcase expo for up-and-coming designers and local entrepreneurs to showcase their work. 

According to Cass, sneaker culture is “to come together to see unique sneakers that you may not have ever seen before and talk about the different history and the different impacts of those sneakers.”  

Cass started SneakGeekz in her sophomore year of high school. Her hope with starting SneakGeekz was to bring the sneaker culture that she loves to the area where she grew up: Akron, Ohio. Cass also discovered the entrepreneurial resources available at Kent State. 

“LaunchNET has been a very good resource for SneakGeekz as far as grants and just providing me with people who can answer my questions concerning legal stuff, like copyright,” Cass said. “LaunchNET has been a key resource in a lot of things that I do, so I'm very grateful for them and for everyone over there.” 

Cass is looking to the future with SneakGeekz in hopes of it expanding throughout the Midwest and being a place where up-and-coming artists and designers can be promoted.  

“I aspire for SneakGeekz to be the most dominant sneaker streetwear event in the Midwest. I want it to be where people think of Ohio, they think of SneakGeekz,” Cass said. “The goal for this is to really be the stepping stone for upcoming designers and other entrepreneurs with sneakers as the foundation.” 

Visit the 330 SneakGeekz Instagram page  

Marissa’s Wishes - Marissa Jackson  

Marissa Jackson is a junior entrepreneurship major at Kent State. Jackson started her business, Marissa’s Wishes, in 2022.  

Marissa’s Wishes currently focuses on makeup services, but Jackson is on a mission to expand her brand. Jackson says always knew she wanted to own a business.   

Marissa Jackson
Marissa Jackson (right)

“In the sixth grade, we had a project where we had to create a product and act like we were selling it. I was one of the top sellers,” Jackson said. “I knew since then I wanted my own business. Around age 14, I got into makeup, and it started as a hobby until last year, I was like why I don’t turn this into a business?” 

In very little time, Jackson was receiving direct messages from Kent State students and other people asking for her to do their makeup.

“It was never meant to be just about beauty. I hope to have a store that has makeup services, but I want to branch out,” Jackson said. “I want to sell makeup, hair and skin products. But I also want to make clothes and accessories.”  

Starting a business is not easy, so Jackson turned to Career Services at the Ambassador Crawford College, which pointed her to LaunchNET Kent State and the various resources it offers entrepreneurs.

“LaunchNET helped me by giving me information on where to get business cards and helped me get my LLC,” Jackson said. “I just recently went to the Pitch & Ponder event. I was able to pitch my idea and receive feedback from a group of people.”  

On Nov. 16, Jackson will be releasing Marissa’s Wishes’ very first product, a t-shirt, at LaunchNET’s Pitch & Ponder showcase.  

“I want my own, full-fledged brand and a physical store,” Jackson said. “I want to have a store and a brand that provides a customer with an experience, not just a product.”  


Sckramble - Cedrick Kelly 

Cedrick Kelly
Cedrick Kelly

Cedrick Kelly, a 2023 integrative studies alumnus, runs a business in the golf industry. His business, Sckramble, is a daily golf contest network where individuals can search for wagered one-on-one matches or tournaments with other golfers in their area. Golfers are able to use Sckramble at Wilkshire Golf Course in Bolivar, Ohio, and at Hupp Gulf Indoor Golf Simulator in Canton, Ohio. Kelly had the idea in 2015 while in Nashville, where he taught himself how to code and got the website up and running himself. Even while at Kent State, Kelly managed to run his business through sheer determination. He also had the help of Kayla Starta, marketing manager for the Brinzo Center, and Shawn Rohlin, Ph.D., professor & director of the Brinzo Center. 

“It just kept burning, and I just kept working on it. Something told me to not stop doing it,” Kelly said. “I would design it and put it away for two months, but I would never throw it away. I'd be busy with life and work and then finally, I just got to the point where I realized: ‘I think I'm supposed to be doing this.’” 

Now, Kelly has 100% ownership of Sckramble and is looking to continue to expand his business. 

“I've got partnerships as far as playing courses. Now I'm looking for brand partnerships in the golf industry to partner with Sckramble,” Kelly said.  

Check out Sckramble 

There are even more entrepreneurs at Kent State, and many of them are supported through LaunchNET, a program on campus staffed with experienced entrepreneurs who guide clients from idea to implementation. Most of the businesses in this article have received at least one micro-grant or larger from LaunchNET and all of them have received support in one way from the university. So if you have a dream, how can Kent State help you make it a reality? 

Learn more about LaunchNET.

Learn more about the Brinzo Center.

POSTED: Monday, October 16, 2023 04:49 PM
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023 12:03 PM
Tanner Poe, Cassidy Grentz, Mateo Martin and Caroline Willis, Flash Communications