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University of Toledo event helps start-ups

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    From left: Craig Burns, Bret Clark, and Bill Wersell, during the panel discussion "The Business of Startups: Company Formation" at he LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo.

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    Bret Clark speaks at a forum as part of the LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo. Mr. Clark is a CPA and a partner with Weber O'Brien Ltd.

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    Craig Burns, managing member of Marshall & Methorn.

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    From left: Jessica Sattler, Craig Burns, Bret Clark, and Bill Wersell speak as part of the LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo. Thursday's forum addressed the business of startups.

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    The LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo holds a panel discussion on "The Business of Startups: Company Formation." It is part of their Series 24 presentations. Panelists are, from left: Craig Burns, managing member of Marshall & Methorn; Bret Clark, CPA, partner with Weber O'Brien Ltd.; and Bill Wersell, director of Ohio Small Business Development Center.

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    Jessica Sattler, Craig Burns, Bret Clark and Bill Wersell speak at Thursday's forum.

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    Craig Burns, managing member of Marshall & Methorn.

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    The LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo holds a panel discussion on "The Business of Startups: Company Formation." From left: moderator Jessica Sattler; Craig Burns, managing member of Marshall & Methorn; Bret Clark, CPA, partner with Weber O'Brien Ltd.; and Bill Wersell, director of Ohio Small Business Development Center.

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    Bill Wersell, director of Ohio Small Business Development Center.

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One of the most frequent issues would-be entrepreneurs ponder is at what point they should take the step of registering their business, a question that was raised Thursday at a UT event for start-up businesses. 

“As soon as you all start to invest money besides just time,” said Bill Wersell, director of the Small Business Development Center at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Once money starts to flow, there should be some sort of a structure for that money flow.”

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From left: Craig Burns, Bret Clark, and Bill Wersell, during the panel discussion "The Business of Startups: Company Formation" at he LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Mr. Wersell was one of three panelists who took part in the program, which was put together by the University of Toledo’s LaunchPad Incubation team. Thursday’s meeting focused specifically on company formation, but the presentation was part of the LauchPad’s larger Series 24 program, which dives into two dozen topics with which early stage businesses often contend.

Jessica Sattler, director of UT's economic engagement and business development programs, said Series 24 was created as an educational tool, but it’s also served well for networking. 

“It’s also about these people in the community understanding that there’s talent here. And not only do these resources exist, but I can’t tell you how willing these people are to help,” she said.

Joining Mr. Wersell on Thursday were Craig Burns, a managing member of the Marshall & Melhorn law firm, and Bret Clark, a certified public accountant and partner with Weber O'Brien Ltd.

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Bret Clark speaks at a forum as part of the LaunchPad Incubation Program at the University of Toledo. Mr. Clark is a CPA and a partner with Weber O'Brien Ltd.

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The program began with panelists explaining the different classifications that start-ups generally fall under and explaining what those terms mean from a legal and tax basis.

“If one person just goes out and starts a business and you don’t do anything, you’re a sole proprietor, whether you mean to be or not,” Mr. Burns said. “That’s the simplest; it’s not always the best, though, because you have personal liability for anything the business does.”

Mr. Burns said generally business owners will want to register as a limited liability company or as a C or S Corporation. He said he nudges people toward the LLC. “I think LLCs provide a lot of flexibility. It’s usually my go to if it’s a start-up business,” he said.

In most cases, people can register an LLC in Ohio without help from an attorney, Mr. Wersell said, noting it costs less than $100.

Ms. Sattler said the 24 topics their series is addressing were split into three segments. Thursday’s event was the start of the second segment. They’ll be holding more meetings every two weeks or so, with the next one — to focus on patents — scheduled for Feb. 15. The events are free. 

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com419-724-6134, or on Twitter @TyrelLinkhorn.

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