Sontag Finalists Announced!

The 2017 Sontag Business Plan competition received 50 intents to compete and 27 business submissions. The winner of the award receives $50,000 to be used to launch their business. The finalists are listed below.

Ebravium

Screen time and school grades can be inversely related and this creates big problems at school and home.  Parents and teachers are sometimes tricked into thinking “edutainment” is a scientifically-backed learning strategy.  The reality is few research-based studies have found positive correlations between screen-based learning games and academic performance.  Recent international test scores reveal that US children’s math scores are plummeting while their screen time is exploding.  Simultaneously, parents struggle to manage their children’s screen time.
eBravium gamifies access to smart devices in a novel way to help kids think and learn faster–initially with Math Facts aligned with Common Core.  Literally, we suspend access to the smart device’s fun stuff (i.e. Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.) making access contingent upon answering questions correctly.  We call it our “learn-to-earn” philosophy and it’s delivered through a phone/tablet interface (with a simple download from the app store).

The exciting underlying science led to a grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research program.    Our proprietary algorithms parachute the adaptive questions into the device at the optimal time of learning relative to the reward creating a new generation of artificial intelligence.   Because we tap into the reward circuitry of children’s brains we are exploiting powerful neurotransmitters so the children learn at fast rates. It’s all protected by five patent applications covering a broad base. Once we complete our pilots under the NSF grant, we will launch our product through partnerships under a freemium-based subscription.


Salty Snail

Salty Snail Studios, LLC is an indie mobile entertainment software startup. In 2014, founder and veteran video game developer, Arthur LeVesque, began tinkering in mobile video game development. One evening, Arthur’s wife’s 12-year-old cousin called about a game idea which came to him in a dream the night before. Thinking this would be a great way to get to know his extended family and learn how to develop a mobile game, Arthur began developing this child’s dream in-between working full-time and getting his Master’s in Business Administration. As time went on, Arthur became engrossed with the project. With the unwavering support and guidance from his friends and family, Arthur produced one of the most innovative and intuitive mobile entertainment experiences around. Scheduled to launch for iPhone in Canada in Winter, 2017 and the United States in Spring, 2018, Salty Snail Studios hopes to captivate and inspire the casual indie mobile gaming community with a child’s dream turned to reality, Spider DiveTM.


New Paths

New Path’s mission is to create a client centered environment for homeless youth ages 18-24 that empowers them to accomplish life challenges by providing housing, programming, and continued support.
The homeless youth population in Reno is on the rise.  Since 2012, the homeless youth population has risen 80%.  Homeless youth is a problem both for the individual and this community. Homeless youth adversely effect communities by contributing to rates of crime, substance use, street economy, and violence.  The homeless youth are also expensive to the local economy by disproportionally using services such as hospitals, the jail and court systems, and mental health services. Each individual youth causes an economic social burden of $37,000 annually through their mismanaged use of community services.
Our plan is to create a new facility where the youth live and receive services.  All clients will have a case manager with services available to them including: counseling, social emotional learning, life and job skills training, trauma informed care, and social services on site. This model gives clients a full wrap-around service.
The goals of this plan are to better the individual and the local community.  The individual benefits from services provided of housing and learned skills to become a self sustainable person. Tax payers, agencies, and the community save money through the youth’s increased personal productivity and less reliance on community services.  Reducing youth homelessness in this way is a win-win.
New Paths is proposed by Logan Parsley, Zenon Post, and Kyle Sundland.


Eat Rank.io

There is nothing worse than going to a restaurant and ordering bad food.  If this happens a customer feels like they have wasted their money and time.  Often a customer has to rely on advice or trial and error to find good dishes on a menu. EatRank.io (EatRank) is a food sharing and review platform for specific dishes at restaurants. When deciding what to eat, EatRank is the restaurant goers best friend.  The application will provide a crowd-sourced detailed view of a restaurant’s menu, complete with ratings and user reviews of each dish. Any user can upload their own rating, review, and photograph of a dish they have experienced. This information will be viewable by other users on the platform so others can make informed decisions on what they should eat in their area. Restaurants can also create profiles to gather feedback on reviews and ratings to improve the food that they serve. Consumers and Restaurants will be empowered with data for a better eating experience. EatRank will revolutionize the way people look at restaurants and how they decide what to eat.


Blue Radiate

Blue Radiate is a Reno based startup creating software that will help PR agencies and large corporations have a larger, more effective impact through the media.

Blue Radiate aims to help PR professionals find relevant reporters by crawling millions of data points to find, sort, and rank journalists according to the relevance to a campaign. PR professionals will be able to streamline their workflow by using Blue Radiate to find the right reporter for a campaign, send them the right pitch, and measure the results.

We are currently in the proof of concept and prototyping phase, and expect to have a functional minimum viable product within 4-6 months.

Finalists will be pitching their ideas to a panel of judges on March 11th, 2017 at the Innevation Center from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Community members and students are welcome to watch the presentations.

Meet Our Fall 2016 Ambassadors

At the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship we have a team of ambassadors to survey how entrepreneurship is flowing within the University of Nevada. Our ambassadors strive to help improve and learn about entrepreneurship and help grow both their own and the university community’s understanding of entrepreneurial opportunities in Nevada. Take a few minutes and get to know the Fall 2016 Ozmen Center Ambassadors!

From left to right: Chris Oram, Brooke Smailes, Megan Hosea, Aris Lazarou

From left to right: Chris Oram, Brooke Smailes, Megan Hosea, Aris Lazarou

Our first ambassador is Brooke Smailes, a Nevada sophomore who can’t wait for the opportunities and connections the ambassadorship will bring forward to help her in the future. As an ambassador Brooke hopes she, “will be able to create awareness of the entrepreneurship program here at the University of Nevada, and educate students on the resources The Ozmen Center offers.” Brooke shared her thoughts on entrepreneurship stating: “I love the idea and concept of entrepreneurship; I believe that it creates opportunities for people that they may have not been able to receive otherwise. It allows people to be in control of themselves while creating jobs and opportunities for others in the community as well.”


Our second ambassador is Aris Lazarou, a Nevada senior. Some of his favorite parts of being an ambassador are being able to promote the Ozmen Center, being introduced to some awesome people, and meeting with everyone weekly. Some objectives of Aris’s are “To encourage entrepreneurial thinking within people” and he also wants to “make the Ozmen Center a starting point for the future 1%.” Aris says the perks of being an ambassador are that he gets free admission to and learns about the awesome local events where he can gain valuable skills and connections. We asked Aris what his thoughts on entrepreneurship are and he told us, “It’s way of thinking; stepping a little deeper than what’s comfortable.”


Our third ambassador is Megan Hosea, a Nevada sophomore. Her favorite parts of being an ambassador are the ability to meet new people, and to attend events like TEDxUniversityofNevada, startup weekend, and many others. Some of Megan’s objectives as an ambassador are to make many connections within our great community, and attend entrepreneurial events. We asked Megan what her thoughts on entrepreneurship were and she answered, “I think entrepreneurship is such a great opportunity for so many people. Many people have so many unique ideas that would be great for our society if they were developed. I look forward to seeing entrepreneurship continue to grow over the years.”


Our fourth ambassador is Chris Oram a Nevada sophomore. Chris’s favorite part of being an ambassador is all of the networking opportunities and the special events he gets to attend that promote entrepreneurship in the Reno area. Chris’s objectives as an ambassador are to spread the word about the Ozmen Center to all clubs and organizations in the Reno area, and to encourage interaction with fellow business students. Chris also shared his thoughts on entrepreneurship stating, “The internet really changed the game for entrepreneurship. Now, I feel like anyone who is passionate about something can form their own business based around it.”

Walter Bagehot said “An ambassador is not simply an agent; they are also a spectacle.”

We are excited to see what our ambassadors can accomplish this year. If you are interested in becoming an ambassador in the future subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media.

By Jacob Thiels

Ozmen Center Social Media Coordinator 

 

 

Entrepreneurship Essentials with Chuck Price

By Shay Digenan

Chuck Price is the Director of the Joe Crowley Student Union. He has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance and Strategic Planning from Columbia University, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration from the State University of New York, Brockport and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from SUNY Brockport.

Before moving to Nevada, he was Executive Director of Finance and Administration at the Riverside Church in New York City.  He was Director of Student Activities at Columbia University and also worked at CUNY Queens College. He has been an active member on various University campus committees.  He previously served on the Faculty Senate and on the Executive Board from 2000 to 2002.  He is also involved at the international level in the Association of College Unions, International (ACUI).

Q: Why do you believe that entrepreneurship is an important concept for students on this campus to be aware of?

A: Entrepreneurship should be one of the critical area that students develop as they plan their careers. Future employers will look for people who are creative in their approach to solving problems. This is not just in business settings but in many other life encounters.

Q: How do you think entrepreneurial skills can influence students on this campus? 

A: The critical skills (see below) that will enable a person to be successful as an entrepreneur will also assist a student in many academic areas and co-curricular opportunities.

Q: What sparked your interest in supporting entrepreneurship/being an entrepreneur? 

A: I love to see a student’s passion and creativity while engaged on campus. This same passion is a key to success as an entrepreneur.  My interest is in the success of our students both before and after they graduate.

Q: What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned from being involved in/supporting entrepreneurship? 

A: One of the most valuable lessons is to be prepared for the unexpected. Are we ready to make a pitch when we run into a key decision maker in a surprise encounter?

Preparation is key.

 Q: What are 5 essential skills that you think prospective entrepreneurs should possess? 

A: Essential skills include:

Creativity and Passion: How do we approach the status quo, step back to look at the big picture and challenge the ways things have been done? Do we inspire radical ideas?

Flexibility:  The ability to adapt to changing situations, different styles, and cultures is critical. How quickly can we think on our feet?

Follow through: Are we reliable? Can we deliver when we make a commitment?

Interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate with others in multiple formats (e.g. face to face, on-line, large groups, one-on-one, phone).

This includes:

  • Listening skills:  What do our customers/ key stakeholders need?  What are they saying?  What are their concerns?
  • Speaking skills:  Do we listen before we speak?  Are we quickly able to articulate our pitch?
  • Writing Skills:  Whether it be 30 words in a text, 300 words in an email or 3,000 words in a blog, we need to be articulate in our message.  Practice helps.

Shay Digenan is an Ozmen Center Ambassador. Follow her on Twitter

Adam from GreenPi Hydroponics

Adam_GovCup_2015Adam Sousa is currently going for an Information systems degree with a minor in entrepreneurship and accounting who is expecting to graduate in Fall of 2016. He has started up a few different companies, and is currently working on a company called GreenPi Hydroponics. Adam has used this idea to compete in several different entrepreneurship competitions, including The Sontag Competition, The Governor’s Cup, and The Clean Tech Open. GreenPi Hydroponics is a company that is focused on growing fresh vegetables and herbs for local restaurants and grocery stores.

Reid: How did the idea for your startup come about?

Adam: Youtube – watching a lot of videos, I started learning about aquaponics and hydroponics. Honestly, it started a large amount with pot growers – these guys were doing these intricate systems with nutrient film technique and these huge houses with these absolutely gorgeous systems. Thats what drove the technology to make it affordable and reasonable for produce production. I’ve always had a food background as well. Since I was a kid, we had a backyard garden that we would cook out of and in high school I started culinary school my freshman year. I did culinary school throughout high school as well. Over the years I considered myself a foodie, who has been about seed to fork and cooking from scratch. I didn’t really think about building into a big business until I started running across these Youtube videos.

Reid: What advice would you give to those students that are interested in Entrepreneurship?

Adam: First off you need to be crazy! Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everybody – it’s not easy, its not always glamorous but it is rewarding. Instead of building somebody else’s dream, you are building your own. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to find something that you are passionate about and find something that drives you. If you are trying to become an entrepreneur and trying to come up with something that will only make you money, your not necessarily going to be doing something that is going to make you happy. For how much work it takes to be an entrepreneur, you need to be passionate and you need to get reward from the work and not the paycheck – because in reality the paycheck may not come for a while.

Reid: What have been some of your failures, and how have you dealt with them?

Adam: A lot of failures has been spreading myself too thin. I was the COO of another company that is in a different market with a different sales style, and in reality I wasn’t doing either company any good. Therefore I felt I needed to refocus after that so I decided to resign from my position as COO. Nowadays, I work with another company but its similar to GreenPi Hydroponics in that it is in a similar market. Within GreenPi, the biggest blunder was what I would title “free tractor.” We purchased some property and were going to build a greenhouse and we needed to dig a hole. One of my business partners had a tractor he said we could use for free, so we paid all the money to get the thing there and everything and the tractor broke after only a day. We then spent about a week fixing it and it would last a few days, but then break down again. Essentially, the tractor would break after only a few days after spending more than a week to fix it. We eventually spent all summer trying to fix a tractor instead of working on our business. On a project we should’ve finished in a week, we are still trying to finish today. Its a reminder that you get what you pay for and to be cautious of “free.”

Reid: Where do you see yourself or your startup in 10 years?

Adam: Hopefully working with SpaceX or NASA helping to put green houses in orbit. Elon musk has talked about bringing asteroids in orbit around earth in order to mine their resources, so we are going to need to have teams and civilians in space that do jobs like they do on earth. With that we are going to need to feed them. We can either do dried processed, unhealthy food – similar to what is up there now – or we can have fresher and better produce that makes things much easier for those up there.

Reid: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Adam: My father, he started his own company and his own business that was completely different: marriage and family therapy. He was really big on making sure that whatever he was doing was supporting the community – he started a non profit charity where all the proceeds would go to help underprivileged children that were not able to communicate. In the entrepreneurship community, it would be Elon Musk: He is passionate, diverse and he didn’t just start with Paypal, he started with earlier diverse companies and then moved on to Paypal. He then took his huge Paypal fortune and he started a space company, it is a difficult thing to do – and he does it.

Julie from Panty Drop

home-left-right-image-2Julie Arsenault is an entrepreneur who currently runs a startup called Panty Drop. In Julie’s words “Panty Drop is a subscription underwear box for women. We take the work out of underwear shopping and surprise you with 3 pairs of underwear, customized to your preferences, delivered automatically to your door.” Julie launched her business a few years ago during Startup Weekend in 2014, and ever since she has focused on growing her company and serving her customers better.

Reid: What was the reason you decided to start this company?

Julie: I was super busy working for a startup in San Francisco and didn’t have time to shop for underwear. I hadn’t been underwear shopping in something like two years (eek!) so my underwear was definitely in a sorry state. Subscription services exist for so many things, but a quick internet search revealed that no one was really doing for women’s underwear (though there were services for men), so it seemed like a great idea to launch at Startup Weekend Tahoe.

Reid: What advice would you give to college students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?

Julie: It’s tempting to focus your time on how to build whatever your idea is, but acquiring customers can be a lot harder than you think it will be. Get out of the metaphorical building, talk to customers and try to make sales before you think you’re ready. It’s OK to share your MVP with early adopters.

Reid: What’s your process for idea generation?

Julie: Talking with people and doing research. Whenever I’m facing a problem, I try to find people who have solved the problem before and see what I can pull from their approach. Sometimes that takes the form of internet research, or setting up a conversation with someone in my network. Sometimes it takes the form of talking with customers & doing customer research. But out of each of these approaches, I usually find new ideas or things to try. Then you put it into practice and see what works.

Reid: What skills would you say are most important to being successful in entrepreneurship?

Julie: Persistence and a “just get it done” attitude, for sure. You’ve got to be scrappy in the beginning and looking everywhere for creative solutions to problems. Secondly, prioritization and focus. There will always be more to do than you can realistically accomplish, so you’ve got to spend time prioritizing, pick what’s most important and stick to that without getting distracted. Try not to worry too much about what everyone else is doing & stay your course. Also – don’t be afraid to ask for help! No one builds a company by themselves – there’s always a team of people or at least a team of mentors and advisors behind every successful one.

Reid: What have been some of your failures and how have you dealt with them?

Julie: I got “fired” from a job once – in quotes because I was technically a consultant and the contract ended with a mutual decision not to renew. But it was a good experience because it helped me reflect on a lot of things. First, it helped me identify a few areas where I needed to build my skills and experience. Second, it helped me identify some areas in the way that I worked where I could have done things a little differently to achieve a different outcome. And third (perhaps most importantly…) it helped me identify the type of culture that I wanted to work in, and the type of leaders I wanted to work for. Any time things don’t work out the way you expect is a good learning experience!

Reid: Where do you see yourself or your startup in 10 years?

Julie: 10 years seems so far away! I’d be very happy if the business grew to a point where I could hire a few employees and pay myself a decent salary. I don’t need to build the next Facebook or Google, I’d just like to build a successful, profitable business that’s a great place to work, delivers a product customers love, and makes a difference in the community.

Reid: What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and someone that works for someone else?

Julie: Being your own boss definitely has some advantages but you’ve got to get really comfortable trusting yourself to make good decisions and managing your own time. You’ve got to get comfortable with there never being a clear answer about what’s right or best…and be willing to try, fail, and revise. You’ve got to be creative to build your own support network because you can’t look to your boss to find out the right way to do something.

Reid: Are there any books you can recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Julie: Running Lean by Ash Maurya was super helpful for me.

Want to learn more about Julie’s company? Check out Panty Drop’s subscription underwear boxes!

David from Benefit Box

photo-1David Rhodes is one of the founders of BenefitBox. In his words, “BenefitBox is a business aimed at providing a user-friendly means of applying for and processing welfare benefits. We aim to launch an online platform by which the public may evaluate themselves for eligibility under various programs. Eventually, we hope to become a government-approved means of both applying for and issuing benefits, by connecting our online interface with our specially-designed, eligibility-determining software to be used by public agencies.”

Reid: How did the idea for your startup come about?

David: Right out of high school, a friend and I started a web design company. To help progress this business, we attended an organization called Entrepreneurs Assembly. Here, we were approached by another attendee who had this idea to change the way people apply for welfare. It would make it more efficient and less of a headache. We started with a simple mock up of the idea of how to simplify the process. We have since spent hours upon hours to further simplify this complex process into an easy to use web interface.

Reid: What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?

David: Do what inspires you most. The business is as much of the idea as it is the passion to keep driving it forward. Get involved with as many entrepreneurial events as you have time for. I have never walked away from an entrepreneurial event and not gotten something out of it.

Reid: What’s your process for idea generation?

David: I find that ideas tend to be better when I talk them out with friends and colleagues. If I have an idea, even if its one that isn’t fully thought out yet, I will share it with people around me. From there, I will keep talking it out with them until there is a functional idea worked out. I keep reiterating this process until I feel the idea is really well thought out. This approach can easily take weeks.

Reid: What skills would you say are most important to being successful in entrepreneurship?

David: Being able to network is very important. It is important to realize that no individual has the skill set to do anything on their own. By surrounding yourself with people who are strong in the areas that you are not can help you achieve things that seem so hard to achieve otherwise.

Reid: What have been some of your failures and how have you dealt with them?

David: All my major failures in projects can be attributed to lack of planning or trying to skip steps. Planning out how process are going to work are fundamental to the implementation. Furthermore, making sure that you actually take all the necessary steps is incredibly important to ensure success. Skipping steps, in the long run, makes the process even longer as you will eventually have to go back and complete the steps that were initially skipped.

Reid: What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and someone that works for someone else?

David: I don’t believe there should be a distinguishing factor between the two. Everyone is able to have that drive that is commonly associated with entrepreneurs. One of the more interesting terms I have recently come across is an “intrepreneur”. From my understanding, the term refers to someone who uses ‘entrepreneur’ skills inside of a large firm and strike their change that way. Entrepreneurship is less about the starting your own business, and more about thinking outside the box.

More information on David’s company can be found on website.

Sontag Winner On ‘Instally’ and Creating a Successful Business Idea

By Brendan Aguiar

We at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship sat down to chat with MBA student Ryan Klekas, who is this year’s Sontag Competition winner for his parking app, Instally. The purpose of Instally is to solve the often wrenching problem of finding parking on the outskirts of campus by acting as a intermediary for homeowners living around the University to rent out parking spaces to students.

Brendan: What was it like being a finalist in the Sontag competition? Did it influence you to become more involved in the community?

Ryan: Sure. As a finalist, they had a lot of workshops that we had to go to at the Innevation Center. There were other members from the entrepreneurial community that would come in and give talks to us about different things. Someone from the MIT Venture Mentoring Service came in and gave a talk about the financial aspects of starting a business plan. Individuals from CUBE at Midtown came by and spoke to us. Prior to doing the Sontag, I wasn’t really sure what the entrepreneurship community had and doing it really exposed me to a lot of the resources that exist.

B: Have you thought about the future of Instally? Where do you see it in 5 to 10 years time?

R: Obviously I see it in a good place or I see it being a service that is provided all over the country. I try not to be super optimistic, but I think it is possible to build it to something like that with a lot of hard work. I think one thing that helped me win was I took it out of the idea stage a little bit and created a minimum viable product. So I did it. Just through text messaging, I actually rented out parking between owners and people that wanted to rent parking for a period of a month in a half just like a simulation. I was able to get a lot of questions I was curious about answered about the process of how the app would work and just to see if people would pay money for it and they did. So right now I’m talking to a lot of development teams trying to get that set in stone so we can start building the platform. Within the first six months I plan to stay around UNR so I can validate some of those concepts in the app that I think will make it successful. See how people are receptive to it before making it available to anyone who wants to use it throughout the country.

B: Do you see it expanding within the community?

R: I’m not saying it’s not possible. It’d be cool if it did. The purpose of it really is to help individual in harder to park areas and Reno, aside form the university area I’ve never had an issue parking anywhere else in Reno. I think Midtown, with it expanding and becoming more popular, could get to a point where it could utilize something like that. I’ve had friends who said they’ve had a hard time parking at midtown at certain times at night on the weekends so maybe on a small scale. Other than that, I don’t see other areas where its hard to find parking.

B: I’m just thinking in crowded cities like New York or L.A. there could potentially be a demand there when you’re talking about lending out your space. Even in Reno, just for specific events like the Rib Cook Off or Hot August Nights, it’s harder to find parking, especially if it gets really packed.

R: The thing about those one time events, those are all great and I completely agree with you that people can utilize something like this, it’s all about opportunity cost though, right? I mean, how much resources am I going to have to go out and educate the individuals living in the area and also the individuals going to the events that this service exists and what kind of return am I going to get? Is it worth it? It’s not recurring throughout the entire year where those people can continually use it all the time. During that one time it’d be great, because the demand would be so high, so that’s definitely a question I’ve asked myself. Would I be willing to for a week prior to that just go out and hit the area really hard and educate them and hope it works? Because if it doesn’t, nobody ever uses it then it was a big waste of time. That’s the only issue I see with one time events like that, but I agree with you. I’ve been to the Rib Cook Off and there’s people with signs in their yard saying, hey park here, so it already goes on and this obviously a more streamlined way for them to do it.

B: Do you see yourself doing other business prospects in the future, continually growing like an entrepreneur would?

R: I hope so, regardless if this succeeds or fails. I’ve already taken a lot of the concepts I’ve learned on the abstract realm within academia. They teach you these concepts, but you don’t really get to apply them. I mean just in the MBA program there are so many things I’ve already done in the past month that apply to my business that I’ve been able to take away from what I’ve heard come out of my professor’s mouth. It’s good to legitimately apply these concepts. It’ll definitely give me a more solid foundation as an entrepreneur to have the courage and experience to go out and start a new venture. The whole thing, just the learning experience, is really a wealth of information and I’m really excited about further pursuing the field of entrepreneurship.

B: You went out to the community and you’ve talked to the home owners. Can you tell me what that was like?

R: I surveyed well over two hundred fifty houses. I spoke to a lot of home owners and business owners and the feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive and that was cool to be able to validate those ideas.

B: What about the legality of it?

R: I know in Reno at least through the proper authoritative parties I’ve spoken with so far, that as far as renting out your private parking, not the street, but your property, that there is nothing wrong with it. I’m sure there will be different restrictions in other areas like San Francisco that we’ll have to deal with, but all I can say to that is you look at some of the bigger disruptive companies like Uber and Airbnb who are going through the same things right now and that doesn’t stop them. All the rules and regulations they’re running into came into place a long time ago. We’re seeing this new collaborative consumption sharing economy coming about and people aren’t really sure how to handle it from a legal aspect. Uber wasn’t allowed to come to Nevada initially. We just got it. That was a process of having to go through litigation, lobbying, and having to rewrite rules to accommodate this new technology and the new ways that people want to make money and I think that over time, when enough people want to use it, eventually those old laws will be rewritten to accommodate it.

B: You mentioned the sharing economy. Your app is involved with that like Uber and Airbnb is as well. It’s like you are sharing in this increasingly popularized world because it is getting more difficult to navigate and we do need to accommodate people so I think that is pretty cool.

R: Absolutely. In a world that’s already filled with so much concrete and parking garages, why add more parking garages when there’s all these driveways and there are people who want to rent out their driveways? You need 500 more spaces to accommodate the university, well it already exists. It’s just a unique way of solving the problem versus spending 25 million dollars on concrete structure that adds zero appeal to the school and they’re probably never going to see a return on its investment anyway. It’s amazing to me that a company like Uber that owns zero taxi cabs is valued at 25 billion dollars. Same thing with Airbnb. They own no houses and yet they are crushing traditional hotels who own all these properties. The infrastructure is there, it’s just finding a creative way to utilize the different assets.

Brendan Aguiar is the Social Media Intern and the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship he can be reached here on LinkedIn.

We have a winner! Ozmen Center sponsors UNR student to attend Startup Weekend Reno

The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship will be sending University of Nevada, Reno student Thiago Arruda to Startup Weekend Reno April 15-17.

He shared with us how the Ozmen Center has inspired him to become an entrepreneur and won our contest!

“Hello Ozmen Center,

My name is Thiago Arruda, Brazilian student at UNR in my last semester here, and for me, The Ozmen center created the environment that I was looking for. A place where you can breathe innovation, new ideas and an entrepreneurship way of thinking and living. I was gradually knowing more about the Center and your branches meanwhile I was pursuing what UNR had to offer about entrepreneurship because I came thinking about bring to UNR the idea of creating a Junior Enterprise, company led by students inside UNR. From it, I met Kylie Rowe and she showed me the EClub, the chance to show this idea on PackPitch last fall. Now, as a member of EClub and doing ENT401, I’m having the keys to understanding even more about business models, start-ups, creativity, how to pitch, and so on. Going to the startup weekend would be the peak of this experience.

Thanks for the opportunity and possibility to go to the Start-up Weekend.”

Congratulations Thiago! We hope you get inspired at Startup Weekend Reno!

Startup Weekend Reno Announcement

Startup Weekend Reno is coming April 15th through 17th for students and community members who are interested in learning the process of starting their own business. It’s a great opportunity for students to experience what it is like to start with an idea and work with a team to build upon it. Startup competitions such as this one have the potential of being the launching point for startups as well. Regardless of where contestants take their ideas, event organizers are hoping they leave Startup Weekend Reno with the skills needed to propose and build upon new business ideas.

Startup Weekend participants can either bring an idea and pitch it, or join an idea pitched by someone else. Event organizers ask that all ideas proposed are fresh ones.  Pre-established ideas and startups or those “in progress” are ineligible to enter the competition. After ideas are proposed and teams are formed, the teams spend the next three days building upon their idea and forming a solid business plan through modeling, coding, designing, and validating before the final products are evaluated by a panel of judges on the final night.

Participation was high for experienced entrepreneurs at last year’s startup weekend so students may have the opportunity to participate and work with professionals this year as well. Experienced and serial entrepreneurs are highly encouraged to participate simply to brush up on their startup skills and remind themselves of what it feels like to start from scratch while also helping a team.

All teams will also be given coaches to help move them along in the process as well. There is also a discount code for students for half off tickets. The code is “STUDENT”.

Start-Up Weekend Contest

The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship is giving away two free tickets to the event if students email the center by Wednesday, April 13th, at midnight on how the center has helped them in their entrepreneurial pursuits. The winning entries will be shared on social media and announced on Thursday, April14th.  Questions and responses can be sent to ozmencenter@gmail.com

More information can be found in the following links.

Startup Weekend Reno Community Page

Ticket Page

Startup Weekend Video

Facebook

Twitter

If you have any questions or information, you may email Startup Weekend Reno’s media contact, Bryan McArdle at mcardle@edawn.org.

David Maine from StyrkaGen and DxDiscovery

New picThis week I had the opportunity to ask David Maine a few questions. David works with two different biotech startups, DxDiscovery and Strykagen. DxDiscovery focuses on antibody based diagnostics and therapeutics while StrykaGen is developing transformative therapeutics and diagnostics for life-threatening rare muscle diseases. David himself received a BS in Environmental Resource Economics and a MA in Economics, both from the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently David oversees the business operations and development of DxDiscovery’s suite of diagnostic products while he serves as CFO of StrykaGen. The transcript of the interview follows:

Reid: How did the idea for your startup come about?

David: Academic research has extreme potential for application into commercially available products or services. The idea for startup formation happened organically with successful licensing/partnerships between academic laboratories and private companies. Utilizing these successful experiences towards commercialization from UNR faculty, and assistance from Ryan Heck from the UNR Technology Transfer Office, we have been able to develop a business model that translates academic research into the private market and contributes to local economic development.  Between both companies an annual total of $1.5 Million dollars in R&D is underway, employing 11 past or current University of Nevada, Reno students.

R: What pieces of advice would you give to college students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?

D: Get out there and make it happen! Work for free, take a risk, fall on your face in front of important people, and get up smiling. You can sleep when your dead.

R: What’s your process for idea generation?

D: Explore the landscape for needs, listen to the academic answer, and formulate strategy for adaptation.

R: What skills would you say are most important to being successful in entrepreneurship?

D: In my opinion, the ability to face failure head on and try again is the single most important thing. This may sound funny, but I learned everything I needed to know about being an entrepreneur through skateboarding. You fall, you fail, you get hurt, you bruise, and you bleed. Yet each failure builds up to achieving your goal. Then you blast it and feel great, and your wheel catches a rock and slams you back down again. This is entrepreneurship, keep pushing.

R: What have been some of your failures and how have you dealt with them?

D: Translating academic know how to a business model or plan is a very tricky process. I worked very hard to develop a business plan for the Sontag competition that reflected the business opportunity and the research. When it came to the 2nd year of entering the competition, (first year did not make it past the 10-page plan), I made it to the finals. My final pitch ended up embarrassing me to the point where I knew 5 minutes in I had failed. The failure came directly from listening too much to everyone else’s advice and forgetting why I was there in the first place. Moving forward I developed a filtering system for advice that has helped me derive basic understanding of the motivations of advice and which pieces hold value.

R: Where do you see you or your startups in ten years?

D: I would like to see DxDiscovery develop a rapid diagnostic test for Pertussis and Lyme disease for use around the world. Additionally, I would like to assist in the development of a therapeutic treatment for meliodosis using our antibodies.

I would like to see StrykaGen fully develop their therapeutic treatments through FDA clearance and be available for patients who suffer from the various forms of Muscular Dystrophy, muscle disease, or muscle related issues.

R: What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and someone that works for someone else?

D: There are no sick days in entrepreneurship.

R: How do you spend time outside of Business?

D: Hanging out with my kids, skateboarding, mountain biking, trail running, or anything outside. I truly enjoy living in these mountains.

R: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

D: Kids, all of them. They live unfiltered, for the most part, and I am always amazed when listening to them.

To learn more about David’s companies, visit their websites here and here.