Charles Matthews

Charles Matthews, UC professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, founded the entrepreneurship program at UC in 1997.

A University of Cincinnati graduate is pairing with a local food vendor to open a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati, and he credits the lessons learned from a program offered by the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

Josh Rudd, who graduated from the program in 2012, is working with Cincinnati food vendor Nick Pesola to open Revolution Rotisserie and Bar, a new restaurant in Over-the-Rhine. The restaurant is scheduled to open in mid-February.

Rudd, who also founded the shoe company Piola, emphasized the importance of getting to know the professors.

“My professors were always willing to work with me if I needed to be out of town for work or something,” Rudd said. “They helped me get grants to start a business, helped me pay for flights and hooked me up with people in the community who may be interested in my business.”

Lindner College’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education and Research, which aims to provide students the tools to become effective and creative business owners, helps address common challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs like Rudd.

“These can include lack of money, people just saying ‘no,’ or sometimes just perceptual barriers,” said Charles Matthews, UC professor of entrepreneurship and strategy.  

Matthews founded the Entrepreneurship program at UC in 1997. The students who enter this program either want to start their own businesses, have a background in small or family businesses or just want to understand how to be innovative in a business setting, Matthews said.

“I have always seen the role of this program as eliminating the barriers and creating gateways,” Matthews said.            

Some of the advantages entrepreneurship students have are the Bearcat Bridge Fund, which lets students apply for up to $5,000 to start their venture, and multiple opportunities to compete in business competitions in which they will practice pitches and business planning. The program also boasts a staff that provides students with countless chances to connect with real-world professionals.

Rudd’s business partner, Pesola, a graduate of the University of Dayton, had been selling his signature chicken sandwiches at Findlay Market for about five months when he realized he needed more space for his rapidly growing business.

When Pesola decided to make the move from tent to storefront, Rudd joined him as a business partner.

According to Pesola, starting a restaurant involves much more than people think; he listed things like health licensing, liability insurance and funding as unexpected challenges.

“If you can get someone to give you money who is not a direct family member, that’s huge, and it’s a good sign that you’re probably qualified to do what you’re doing,” Pesola said.

Steven Brown, student president of UC’s Entrepreneurship Club, said that the entrepreneurship program taught him how to do just that.

“The most important thing that I learned was how to finance and get seed money for a business venture,” Brown said. “But they give you the ins and outs of every aspect of running a business, whether that is marketing, finance, management and so on.”

Brown said an entrepreneur is someone with the drive to create something — typically a business — and the Center for Entrepreneurship does a good job giving students the tools and experience they need to make a living off of their own ideas.

“Building a business should be a representation of one’s self,” Browns said. “And entrepreneurship is a good way to do that.”

Rudd reflected on the lessons he learned from the Center for Entrepreneurship that he still takes into consideration as he works on starting a new business.

“What you start with is almost never what you end with because you have to adapt to change,” Rudd said. “For instance, we would like to be a sit-down restaurant that isn’t crazy all the time, but if we have clientele that comes in here for drinks at three in the morning, then we’re going to have to be a business that is open late to serve drinks.”

Rudd said this understanding of the need to be adaptable is made clear at UC and that he left the program with a new appreciation for business.

“I don’t really know how to describe it,” Rudd said. “But I see things from a lot of different angles now.”