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John Herbert

Sr. Mechanical Engineering at Ohio University / Entrepreneur

I'm John (friends all just call me Red, or Umutuku -which is a fun way of saying 'Red' with more sylables), and I'm me because somebody had to do it.

I'm a senior who would have graduated this year, but instead took the year off from traditional classes to build our university's first entrepreneurial co-op program. The goal is to give students the opportunity to have a semester free from classes so that they can fully commit to building a startup without compromising between performance of both work and traditional studies while retaining their full-time student status (just as they would in a standard internship based co-op), and leverage their own capital to get started without worrying about covering full tuition. I have two sides to my work this year as I'm trying to get this program started, connected with local entrepreneurial resources, and figure out how it really needs to work in order to be ready for students this fall, but I'm also the first guy going through it too so I also have to focus on actually doing all the work related to product and business development for my technology.

My current project for the year is Compact Pizza Robots! I'm shrinking the bulk of pizza prep and cooking into a single box that is smaller than even a conveyor oven alone and automating as much of the process as possible. So if you have an area roughly the size of a pizza box with a little headroom above it and some space to store topping refills then you can start a pizza business or expand the menu that your venue already offers. I'm trying to build this as a more affotdable and accessible means for budding entrepreneurs to enter the pizza market and try new business models that full size pizza kitchens couldn't utilize before. I want to make a successful business out of it, but selling pizza (hopefully for a decent amount of profit) isn't really the big thing that I want to do with my life, so my main focus is on validating that this co-op model can benefit students, universities, and society in order to empower future students with more opportunities to achieve their dreams and do something amazing.

I'm pushing to have this new option available to all students in the engineering department this fall, and can hopefully convince other departments to try it in some form as well. It's my vision for every department to have a version of this with a great hub to tie it all together so that students from diverse backgrounds and fields of study (engineering, business, marketing, communications, design, etc.) can come together, complement each other's skillset, and build the technological, economical, and social powerhouses of tomorrow.

The future isn't about maintaining a death grip on one job for 40 years, but about how adaptable we are and what we are capable of doing. Everyone owes it to their future self to have taken the opportunity to try starting their own business because you have to leverage so many skills and see things from so many points of view that you can begin to look at problems from sides you wouldn't have even considered before.


Life goals

Live a life that was worth it. Create something of lasting value to leave behind. Produce a singularity point in history where people will look back and wonder how the world became so awesome. Produce more agile and streamlined educational systems that are accessible to everyone on earth, regardless of location or income. Be excellent to as many people as possible.


Boring professional bio stuff

Work experience: Mechanical (and some facilities) engineering at General Electric, Diabetic research at OU Biomedical dept., Photovoltaic installation at Third Sun Solar and Wind, Helical wind turbine prototyping and high efficiency/green home design at Emega Biocomposites, 10+ yrs of construction/HVAC experience.


This is me. I'd say I'm not as strange as I look, but then I'd be telling a pretty epic lie.

Phoneshot.jpg

It's like you can feel the hugs in 3d!

Related Links

Ohio University

Ohio University Student Priorities

University Innovation Fellows

Spring 2016

Ben Scott

Faith Voinovich 

Spring 2015

Lori Bentz

Alex Kneier

Spring 2014

John Herbert