James Day – Corvallis Gazette Times – Oregon State University is known for its cutting-edge programs in engineering, agriculture, energy and marine science. The school reeled in $285 million in research funding in 2014.
So who was the star of the OSU Advantage Accelerator’s latest crop of startup entrepreneurs?
A geology major who wants to make doughnuts.
Benny Augeri, who just finished his final term in geology and innovation management, wowed a crowd of approximately 100 people at the LaSells Stewart Center with a high-energy presentation on his plan to take shake up the Corvallis doughnut market.
“I know I don’t look like it, but I love doughnuts,” said the slightly built Augeri, who promised “good vibes, happiness and lots of fried dough” at Benny’s Donuts.
Augeri plans to start in January with an online-only delivery-based operation, with hopes of a downtown storefront by the summer, with his geology training coming in handy — he used GIS mapping to plot out where the greatest concentration of Corvallis residents lies.
Augeri, who grew up in Bellbrook, Ohio, noted that doughnuts have been in the family since 1814 and his recipe for old-fashioned cake doughnuts dates to 1934.
“It’s a taste of happiness, a taste of history,” said Augeri, who won a trophy of a shoe for his determination to “pound the pavement” in his marketing and sales efforts.
Other presenters included:
• Phil Manijak, who developed a software project management tool designed for small teams, such as Corvallis Swing. The product is called Circle Blvd. Manijak said he is hoping to work with small volunteer-oriented groups that cannot afford the software costs that larger companies charge.
Manijak won a trophy of a bathtub for his Archimedes moment of finding the right business model.
• Cynthia Fischer, who demonstrated her plans to aid educational efforts with an online curriculum program that emphasizes teaching in multiple languages and separating classroom structures into online learning followed by teacher-led hands-on work. Fischer, who received her master’s in education from OSU in 1999, has been working on her ideas ever since, including a pilot program currently in place at Clover Ridge Elementary School in Albany.
Fischer was awarded a trophy of a dog bone for the “dogged” determination she has showed in pursuing her dream.
• John Koan Koberstein who, in perhaps the most poignant moment of the event, discussed his work creating medical equipment that helps him deal with his own condition. Koberstein, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia when he was 4, has developed Secure Ring, an IV and catheter system that he says will improve on current models that are “unsanitary, uncomfortable, invasive and inconvenient.”
Koberstein said his condition “inspired me. I was a 9-year-old and wanted to be an inventor. This is my chance to improve the world for the generations to come.”