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John Osher, entrepreneur and inventor of the Crest SpinBrush, shares dinner and conversation with students last night. The event, which focused on entrepreneurship, was sponsored by the Weiss Tech House. [Ryan Jones/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

In most cases, a trip to the local Wal-Mart amounts to nothing more than an everyday shopping outing. However, entrepreneur John Osher's 1999 trip to his local Wal-Mart proved to be much more.

Demonstrating that the ideas behind successful products don't always come from focus groups or teams of analysts, Osher's walk down the store's dental aisle provided the inspiration for the multimillion dollar business centered around the Crest SpinBrush.

Osher imparted an account of this -- and several more of his unconventional endeavors -- to an intimate crowd at the Weiss Tech House's first formal speaker's event last night.

Labeled a "serial entrepreneur" in his field, Osher has conceived ideas for several innovative products. After creating new products, Osher develops corporations around these inventions and then sells them for a large profit.

Proving that entrepreneurial skills transcend all product lines, Osher has developed innovations ranging from a baby jungle gym to the once-popular Stretch Armstrong toy to his most successful invention, the SpinBrush.

Although his history of success might indicate otherwise, Osher described how his career did not follow the conventional mold of the business world.

"I wasn't a very good student," Osher said. "I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I've always just done things. There are all kinds of students that don't necessarily fit the traditional mold, and I encourage students to use not only their classroom knowledge, but also their resources and experience."

Even though it may conflict with Wharton's conventional entrepreneurial approach, Osher's experience-based career fits the Weiss Tech House's goal of fusing traditional academics with alternative educational techniques.

"He has a very interesting background and I think that from him, Penn students can learn how to think outside the box and be innovative," Weiss Tech House Director Anne Stamer said.

Osher also told students what is necessary to become an entrepreneur and gave them advice on how to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

"Every entrepreneur is a leader," Osher said. "They get up and make things happen. They're all 'find-a-way' people.... For any entrepreneur, the words 'finding a way' are some of the most important you can learn, because every business has walls you have to climb over," he added.

This advice had an immediate effect on the students in attendance, many of whom were aspiring entrepreneurs themselves.

"It made me sure that becoming an entrepreneur is the right profession for me," Wharton and Engineering freshman Anahita Arora said. "He made me realize that I can turn my dream into a reality."

And who knows, after hearing Osher's inspirational tips on becoming an entrepreneur, a Penn student walking down an aisle in their own local Wal-Mart may conceive the world's next multimillion dollar business.

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