Zach Ferres, a senior computer engineering major from Bellevue, Ohio, just wanted to earn a little extra money but ended up starting a business. In summer 2007, he created BounceHost in his hometown after landing some initial contracts. BounceHost provides a complete array of information technology solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. These solutions include IT consulting, point-of-sale, Web site development, custom software development, and 24/7 technical support packages. Today, Ferres has more than 40 active clients spanning seven counties in Ohio and is proud to say that he has never lost a client. In 2008, BounceHost had around $40,000 in net revenues, and Ferres looks forward to growing the business to around 100 clients before he graduates, at which time, he plans to commit himself full-time to the business.
Ferres has relied solely on his own resources; no loans or investors have yet been needed, and all of the profits are returned to the business. The business has grown to the point where he employs two full-time and two part-time employees, including an ONU intern.
BounceHost also is dedicated to giving back to the communities in which it operates. Currently, the firm is starting a computer-recycling program, BounceGreen. BounceGreen will obtain used and broken computer hardware, refurbish it, and then donate it to families in the community. BounceHost is also working with newspaper publishers and radio stations to facilitate the launch of BounceBlogs, which will provide a location for the public to ask IT questions.
Even ONU has been a BounceHost customer. In 2007, BounceHost was contracted to assist in the implementation of the new University Web site, and currently it is working on a project for the Rudolph H. Raabe College of Pharmacy. Partially funded by Apotex Corporaton, this pharmacy project involves the development of a new community pharmacy simulation software package. The software will help prepare students for their eventual service in the profession of pharmacy by allowing them to practice retail pharmacy management operations in a simulated environment.
Ferres has found his ONU education to be integral to his success, “I can’t describe in enough words how much Ohio Northern has helped me in starting my business. As far back as the freshman engineering classes, where we learned how to write proposals and work in teams to create new products, I have taken everything I can out of the classes. The skills learned in the programming classes have been absolutely essential for the software development sector of BounceHost.” He is also taking advantage of the new entrepreneurship minor offered in The James F. Dicke College of Business Administration. Ferres believes the entrepreneurship minor complements his computer engineering major perfectly, and the information gained through the entrepreneurial classes truly helped him realize his passion for being an entrepreneur.
Most importantly, Ferres believes that ONU has taught him how to think and how to effectively interact with people, and ONU faculty, staff and alumni have all contributed to his success in various ways. It is certainly more than he could have ever hoped for when he first applied at ONU.