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Keenan Center to help student entrepreneurs

Ohio State students outside of the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship. Courtesy of Jake Cohen

Ohio State receives hundreds of donations from alumni annually.

Tim Keenan, an Ohio State alumnus and co-founder of the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, wanted his contribution to help create an ecosystem made up of students, faculty and alumni, and act as a resource for people looking to turn ideas into realities.

In June 2018 the Keenan Family Foundation committed $17 million to establish the Keenan Center. As one of the largest commitments ever recorded at Fisher College of Business, Keenan believes the center will be a driving contributor to job creation in Ohio and across the nation.

When considering how he could help the university, Keenan thought about what was missing from Ohio State while he was a student. A few semesters into his undergraduate studies, Keenan needed a way to make more money for school, so he set out on his own business venture.

“My parents were hardworking people but not wealthy, so they did not have the funds necessary to pay for my schooling,” Keenan said. “I used my savings from working, and when that ran out, I needed another source of income.”

Keenan and his brother purchased trucks, which they used in the beginning to help students move items out of their dorms. During the summer, the team began hauling scrap for local manufacturing companies around Columbus, calling the business WT Hauling.

This business eventually paid for the team’s entire education, according to Keenan.

The Entrepreneurship Center is building an infrastructure to assist students no matter where they are in the process of starting a business. Previously named the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the university is splitting innovation and entrepreneurship into two separate areas of specialization.

The Entrepreneurship Center is made up of five sections: education, student programs, community outreach, student startups and faculty startups.

Jake Cohen, program director for the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, sees the framework as an opportunity to help students no matter where they are with forming a business venture. Additionally, faculty, alumni and the Columbus community will have the opportunity to engage with the center.

“It’s a really exciting time because more resources, staff and support are going to be dedicated to supporting not just student entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurs that are a part of the larger ecosystem,” Cohen said.

LaunchPad OSU, a new program the center is offering, is a weekend startup event where students, regardless of background or major, can come together for an hour-long event and build a business idea from scratch. The competition is an opportunity for students to get involved with the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

In the coming months, the center will continue to grow and evolve to help support the community grow their business ventures. Keenan believes the talented environment in the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship will build the business leaders of tomorrow and drive job creation in the Midwest.

“Don’t ever take no for an answer,” Keenan said. “Smile at the resistance, and change the status quo.”


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