Reflections on John Osher's Talk at OVA

Submitted by Charles on Sun, 06/11/2006 - 23:42.

Image courtesy of Harvard Business School Club of Northeast Ohio

On Friday, June 9th, John Osher shared some thoughts about starting a business and being a successful entrepreneur with the Ohio Venture Association, based on his life experience.

Prior to Mr. Osher's presentation, Michael Weider of Gauntlet Technology Systems gave a Five-Minute Forum presentation on his company's patented technology that is designed to keep impaired individuals from starting their vehicles and to prevent vehicle theft. The device measures the reaction time of the driver in performing a series of motor skill functions and verifies their identity through biometric identification. The company is seeking capital.

Michael Weider, CFO
Gauntlet Technology Systems
3788 Manchester Road
Akron, OH  44319
(330) 882-7700
michael [at] gauntletTech [dot] com

OVA Board President Ben Calkins conducted a brief business meeting officially adding several new members to the organization's board. After each of the attendees introduced themselves, John Osher shared his story.

He has operated business ventures all his life, going back to small businesses he did as a child. Each venture contributed to his business experience giving him an intuitive understanding of what it takes to be successful.

He talked briefly about a number of ventures, spending the most time on the creation of the Spinbrush which was sold to Procter and Gamble (Crest) in 2001. The genesis of the product was the application of motor technology that he had perfected in the toy industry to the toothbrush. In short, he and his team figured out a way to offer a product that could sell at $5 in the retail environment where other motorized toothbrushes were being sold in the $50-100 price range.

He mentioned a number of lessons that he learned that have application to other businesses. They include:

  • Have a differentiated product: The Spinbrush had strong intellectual property protection covering fixed and moving bristles as well as retail packaging that allows prospective purchasers to turn on the motor and watch the bristles move.
  • Know who you are going to sell to and what they want: From the very beginning, he knew that Procter and Gamble was the logical company to buy the  business.
  • Start businesses within your resources and experience: He tested the Spinbrush with his family and friends and used a marketing strategy that didn't depend on large advertising budgets. As a young person, he started an ear ring business that needed only $1,000 that he knew he could get from his mother.

Mr. Osher mentioned a compilation of the lessons that he has learned over the years. Several sources have codified and listed this information on the Internet. Entrepreneur magazine's article listing of John Osher's 17 mistakes can be found here

During the question and answer period, Mr. Osher weighed in on the "nature versus nurture" question when he was asked whether entrepreneurs were born or made by their life experiences. He replied that the entrepreneurial personality is born but business is learned.

If you want to learn more, more information can be found on the Internet:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology-March 2005
Business Week on the impact of Crest Spinbrush on P&G
University of Pennsylvania-October 2003

For more information on the Ohio Venture Association and its future speakers, visit www.ohioventure.org. The organization will not meet in the months of July and August with the next meeting being Friday, September 15, 2006.

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Great notes on the great John Osher

For environmental reasons - and because I am an anticonsumer - I can't say I'm a fan of the spin brush, spin dish brush, etc... but I am very grateful I was fortunate to participate in a multi-month entrepreneurs roundtable with John Osher back when Case still operated Enterprise Development Incorporated (EDI)... and he is a great businessman and very nice guy. The program he and Grant Marquit led was the most powerful consensed learning experience I've ever seen made available to the NEO entrepreneruship community, and many of the folks in the program have been very successful... perhaps all. John played a key role in all of our success, because he took the time to come to Cleveland on a regular basis to work with us, was communicative outside of the program, and offered very focused, specific advice to all participants in a format that was open, interactive and action oriented. While I hated the building that housed EDI, off in the dead end of University Circle, and I wasn't interested in John's core products (although the fact he now funds and produces Broadway shows is very  interesting), I really valued his support of me and other entrepreneurs and I believe we should work to replicate the aspects of all that worked well - there has been nothing like the EDI Osher Entrepreneurs Roundtable available since EDI was absorbed into the very different JumpStart world of today. The snapshot of Charles' review above hints at the value offered... but can we find another Osher to lead the next roundtable of entrepreneurs forward to success? Who are some other globally successful entrepreneurs who could lead such workshops in NEO in the future. Any suggestions?

One of John Osher's productions won a Tony Award

Norm, thanks for mentioning the John Osher's role as a producer. John has produced a number of Broadway shows. They include Jersey Boys, The Wedding Singer, Hairspray and the Little Shop of Horrors. On Sunday, Jersey Boys got a Tony Award for best musical. He knows how to pick (or create) a winner in business and on Broadway!

John Osher's picks

I agree! After my 5-minute forum presentation at last Friday's OVA meeting John Osher said our investment opportunity was a "no brainer". I hope others will value that endorsement and consider investing in our exciting, life saving technology. I am pleased to send any interested angels a brief summary of this special technology and an outline of the potentially significant returns.  I can be reached  at 330 -882-7700 or Michael [at] GauntletTech [dot] com