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Beyond the Pitch

Damian Beauchamp, OSU PhD Student and KAir Battery Co-founder, Receives VentureNEXT Student Award

Ohio native chooses chemistry, attends in-state schools, attracts early stage non-dilutive capital, and co-founds a company to revolutionize energy technology.

That’s the story of Damian Beauchamp, 2014 VentureNext College Student Award winner. And it’s a story that we would like to see repeated over and over again in Central Ohio.

Damian grew up in Northeast Ohio. He was interested in physical therapy, worked for a while in a pharmacy, and then discovered just how much he loved chemistry. Damian graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Chemistry from Kent State University.

He continued his studies, working on his PhD in chemistry at OSU. And this is where Damian’s pursuit of chemistry and his expanding interest in entrepreneurship crossed paths.

Scientist turns entrepreneur

“My formal academic training has not been in entrepreneurship, rather in materials chemistry related to energy materials,” Damian said. “I thought long and hard as an undergraduate how I could best impact the world and truly change it. I chose to gain a deep understand of how to develop new energy related solutions and then bring them to the world.”

If this sounds like a large and challenging goal, that’s because it is.

While working on energy technology in the lab at OSU, Damian got the idea of commercializing a revolutionary OSU technology for potassium air batteries. He and Dr. Yuying Wu co-founded KAir Battery.

“I had no formal business or entrepreneurship training,” Damian said, “so I had to figure out a way to learn as much as I could as quickly as I could. I found out about the OSU business plan competition and entered in 2013.”

KAir is the Grand Prize Winner of the Ohio State University Business Plan Competition and the recipient of the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Prize from the Rice Business Plan Competition.

“At the end of the day,” Damian said, “we had a solid business plan that raised $117,750 in six months through three highly competitive business competitions.”

KAir recently brought on an experienced CEO—a connection that Damian made through the OSU business plan competition.

A success story we can repeat

The beauty of the entrepreneurial landscape of Central Ohio is that we have initiatives like the OSU Business Plan Competition and VentureNEXT to be catalysts for attracting and showcasing emerging entrepreneurs like Damian.

We have committed businesses like Bricker & Eckler, sponsor of the VentureNEXT Student Awards, to help recognize our talented young people. And we have mentors and sources of investment capital that encourage our home-grown talent to spinout Ohio technologies into Ohio companies that create wealth and jobs.

It’s a real life story out of Central Ohio—not a dream.

 

VentureNEXT College Awards are sponsored by Bricker & Eckler with $2500 in scholarship dollars award to two students attending a college or university in the 15-county Central Ohio region.

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