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Data drives decisions. Corporations and start-ups alike utilize critical information to inform their decision making, but often an overlooked resource goes without notice: the library. Traditionally the library is known for its collection of physical books. However, libraries have evolved alongside the digital age as they have adapted their expansive catalog to include online databases.

Kim Marks, Assistant Director of the Henry Buhl Library at Grove City College, kicked-off the first Venture U of the semester by teaching a crash course on how to navigate online library databases and apply research strategies to best identify information that could be used to solidify a potential venture. Venture U consists of a series of lectures that help students understand hot topics in the business world and provide students with the knowledge that will help them prepare for the annual Wolverine Venture Battle. This particular session was fully interactive for students as they were prompted to navigate the databases themselves.


The two central topics that Marks focused on included “researching the competition” and “identifying target markets”.

Overall five sources were referenced in the lecture. Mergent Intellect, Business Source Premier and Passport GMID were the primary databases recommended when researching the competition. These databases contain expertise on company profiles, executive biographies, and industry knowledge. A plethora of data on geographic information, levels of user adoption, generational usage, and consumer spending reports can be gained through the use of Statista and Passport GMID to identify target markets.

Research Strategies

Throughout the session, Marks suggested other key strategies to exercise when searching for information.

According to Marks, students should be identifying more than one word for their related topic as terminology remains key for receiving search results. She also cautioned against using the information provided by a company’s website as it is often biased. On the other hand, she claimed that state and federal websites (like the Census Bureau) are reliable to draw information from. Marks further noted that if a dead link does not work through a credible database, a simple Google search may be the solution to finding the report.

“If something is truly trustworthy it has been reprinted somewhere else,” Marks said.

The assistant director of the Henry Buhl Library concluded the Venture U by referencing one of the most viable resources that an entrepreneurial enthusiast could utilize, librarians. She assured the group that the help of a librarian can serve as an indispensable asset since each venture is unique and librarians want to see students succeed. After all they are just a simple email, phone call, or visit away.

Researching a new start-up does not have to be a tedious or tiring chore as a variety of online and in-person resources are available to students. Instead, research should help drive inspiration and affirm the venture at hand.