Mentoring Minute: A Conversation with Mark Hoersten

The Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC) is ramping up for its Spring 2023 Tech Side Hustle. Offered each semester to member colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio, Tech Side Hustle is an extracurricular program designed to attract, coach, and fund student entrepreneurs. Participating student cohorts are paired with experienced local mentors like Mark Hoersten, who guide them through a myriad of startup obstacles such as understanding competitive advantage, building a prototype or finding a first customer. Hoersten also serves as a mentor for JumpStart’s Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program, where he advises early-stage tech companies with high growth potential.

In this conversation, Ali King, Director, Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program, speaks with Mark about his most recent role as mentor to PolyVolt, a company in EEC’s Fall 2022 Tech Side Hustle Cohort.


AK: Hi Mark! Tell us about the team you mentored as part of Entrepreneurship Education Consortium’s (EEC) Tech Side Hustle Fall 2022 Cohort.

MH: Each week of the program, I met remotely with four material science and marketing students from Kent State University to work on their venture, PolyVolt Technologies. Their core innovation is very interesting and smart — flexible, stretchable circuits to solve for situations with unknown length and bending requirements. That extra degree of freedom is the differentiator.

AK: As a mentor, what drew you to work with PolyVolt Technologies?

MH: I’ve spent my entire career in the electronics industry — electrical engineering is in my DNA. Whether you’re a Nasdaq company or PolyVolt, it’s easy to get caught up in the technical details and forget what the customer really needs. It was exciting to me to see how the team approached this challenge with critical thinking.

AK: Over the course of the program, what progress did the team make?

MH: By the end of the program, the team was exploring all the many applications of their technology — the entire ecosystem of its utility. They were also thinking about how customers could discover their product even without knowing its underlying technical capability.

AK: What do you hope the team accomplishes next?

MH: We spent a lot of time talking about a complete solution to their primary application — what other types of circuitry, microprocessors, and control chips would be required — as well as additional applications that might be a little simpler. It’s good to have options as they move forward with product development and revenue models.

AK: Is mentoring college students different than mentoring more developed ventures, like you do with the Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program at JumpStart?

MH: It is and it isn’t. Mentoring is always a learning experience for me, which is part of what I enjoy about it. No matter who I’m mentoring, I try to be a good listener and have an open mind. Many entrepreneurs are tremendously passionate about their ideas, and students are no different. Because students are less professionally experienced, though, they tend to be more eager for feedback. They have fresh eyes on the problem, which is fun.

AK: What would you tell other college students in Northeast Ohio who are considering participating in EEC’s Tech Side Hustle?

MH: Exposure to the entrepreneurial process is so important. Many new business ideas fail, it’s true, but the opportunity to grow an idea with some real stakes is a strong foundation to build from — Tech Side Hustle plants seeds around good ideas, and that’s what matters.


To learn more about Tech Side Hustle, visit or reach out to the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium via email at [email protected].