startUP grads building businesses


In addition to Entrepreneur of the Year Jacob O’Connor, four Monroe County startUP graduates are continuing their business ventures now that the class is completed.  

The students, who come from three different schools, have ideas ranging from food delivery to a technology-infused dog toy.

Think Right Think Bright

Columbia High School junior Brandon Hall falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. 

The 17-year-old is pursuing an idea for a company called Think Right Think Bright, which will help children with learning disabilities. 

Hall, the son of Michael and Jennifer Hall, chose that idea because he has dyslexia. 

“Through that, I’ve seen a lot of challenges and I’ve gone through a lot of things,” Hall said. “As I grew older, I wanted to change some problems that I saw in our educational system when it came to kids with learning disabilities.” 

He plans to create a website to provide resources to parents and teachers who have children or students with learning disabilities. 

“They’ll be able to find tutors, psychologists and advocates in their area who can help them out, as well as general information about learning disabilities,” Hall explained.

He also plans to give presentations at schools to give teachers ideas on ways they can help their students with learning disabilities.

With help from his mentor Brian Estes, Hall has started work on that already, raising money for the website and speaking with school officials to develop his business.

Hall will continue that work over the summer, as he hopes to get his website up and running. 

He anticipates continuing work on the business when he goes to college next year. Hall said he wants to play collegiate soccer and major in political science and business. 

Follow Think Right Think Bright on Twitter or email for more information. 

Lockdown Sports

Experience also helped Gibault Catholic High School graduate Preston Oberkfell create a business called Lockdown Sports, which is a website that provides parents and players information about select baseball teams. 

“My ultimate goal when I was first coming into this program was to help someone because I’ve always been a person who helps other people,” the 18-year-old baseball player said. 

Using the website builder Wix, Adobe Photoshop and the help of mentor Ryan Osterhage, Oberkfell has already created the basics of the website. 

When it is finished, there will be a page with a list of teams with each teams’ profile, motto and coaches with basic biographical information. 

Another page on the website will have trainers with their biographical information and pricing. A final one will be a utilities page with information on sporting good stores. 

Oberkfell said the site should have a large audience. 

“I definitely think there is massive amounts of people trying to get into select baseball,” he said.

Oberkfell said he will continue growing the business over the summer and as he goes to college to get a degree in business administration. 

For more information, visit 


Bryce Vogt is another CHS student who plays to continue his business. 

The 17-year-old CHS graduate is the founder of GrubGo, a company that delivers carryout food in Columbia. 

“I knew there was nothing like that in Columbia or Monroe County, so I wanted to fill that need for this type of company,” Bryce, the son of Mike Vogt, said. “It’s something that I would personally want, so I figured there would be more people who would also like this type of service.” 

The business is now up and running, after Vogt, with the help of mentor Dennis Bullock, talked with restaurant owners to get them on board, created his website and social media platforms, acquired delivery bags and hired drivers. 

To use the service, customers contact the company and provide their food order. GrubGo charges a flat $5 fee for its services. 

Vogt said customers appreciate the convenience his company provides.

“Our services are fast and pain free for our customers,” he said. “They can be anywhere and they can get their favorite meals delivered without having to go in and sit and wait.” 

Vogt plans to hire a manager to oversee the business when he leaves for the University of Mississippi, where he plans to major in finance and entrepreneurship. 

In the meantime, Vogt will  work to expand the number of restaurants GrubGo offers. 

To use GrubGo or for more information, go to, visit it on Facebook or call it at 618-504-0400. 


Jeremy Zeidler has perhaps the most unconventional of the startUP graduates’ business ideas. 

He is making a dog toy the user controls via an app on their phone. 

“I have a passion for dogs, and I kind of wanted to incorporate in the business line of doing stuff with dogs,” the 17-year-old Waterloo High School junior said. “And I also really like to invent stuff. So what I did was combine the two and wanted to do something that got the dog owner and the dog connected.”

Working with mentor Matt Heck, Southern Illinois University Carbondale professor Carl Spezia and friend Liam Desai, Zeidler built a prototype of the toy. 

The toy works by having three devices that the dog owner puts across their house. 

They then download the app, which has various sounds on it, and use it to transmit a sound to the device closest to the dog. 

When the dog gets too close to that device, it then transmits to the device farthest from the dog.

Zeidler plans to hire someone to work with him over the summer to improve the prototype. 

He is also working to patent his invention, as he wants to make Woobie his career.

“My plan is once I have this really developed as much as I can, I’m going to make a website that lets people go on and make customized dog toys,” Zeidler, the son of Mike and Wendy Zeidler, said.

That may take place next year when Zeidler goes to college for industrial engineering or designing. 

To learn more about Woobie, email Zeidler at 

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