New Venture Business Competition Winners, 2017
Possibilities Percolate with Award
Olusegun Ogidan dreamed of creating a coffee house where people could gather, while learning about the countries from which the coffees they were drinking originated.
Thanks to the New Venture Business Competition, sponsored by Hadley’s Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship, that dream will become a reality. Olusegun was one of two winners out of 12 applicants, in last year’s competition, winning $10,000 to invest in his future business, Savanna Coffee.
Blind since he contracted measles at 18 months of age in his home country of Nigeria, Olusegun had a career in broadcasting, which led to working as a sound engineer in the U.S. He has been deeply involved in civic activities, advocating for international students and blind people in Denver where he now lives.
Introduced to Hadley by a blind pen-pal in the 1980s, Olusegun has taken courses in Spanish, French, Business Management, Excel, Word Processing and Accounting. He says, “The Excel class taught me coordinates like A1, A2, were columns and rows and helped me understand how to use Excel.” A Hadley instructor encouraged Olusegun to submit his business plan for the competition.
Olusegun will use his prize money to hire a web developer to get the store online. He adds, “I am devoting a portion of the funds toward adaptive equipment like a talking scale for food and a point of sales system to enable me to hire qualified blind employees.” Troubleshooting equipment is a huge challenge Olusegun hopes to overcome with training. He said, "Through trial and error, I’ll figure out how to deal with challenges."
Lighting Up a New Business
Nothing stops Teresa Gregg. Born with congenital glaucoma, this mom of two adult children and grandma of two, has had to compensate; creatively problem solve; advocate; and communicate about her blindness and capability.
Teresa learned about Hadley’s Forsythe Center through her self-employment specialist at the Iowa Department for the Blind. "I was interested in starting my own business so I entered the New Venture Business Competition."
Teresa is focusing on two lines of business, transformational life coaching and reflexology to help clients with emotional and physical healing. The name of her company is Lumine Your Way. Teresa explains, "Lumine is Latin for light, so it’s light your way. I chose that specifically because I’m totally blind and I do not feel I'm in the dark at all. My job as a life coach and reflexologist is to help light my clients' pathways so they’re not in the dark anymore."
Learn more about the 2018 Competition.