Rundown of Events for the Last Week in March

By Brendan Aguiar

We are getting ready for a commendable week here at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship. There will be many opportunities for students throughout the week from networking events to idea pitching competitions. Here is a brief description of what’s happening this week.


Today we have our weekly Entrepreneurship Club meeting at the OCE at 12pm. This club often features speakers who discuss the different aspects of creating business start-ups. Next week’s speaker will focus on presenting your ideas.TUESDAY 

On Tuesday we will have our weekly TED Talk Tuesdays. Stop by the OCE anywhere between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. for inspiration and free popcorn as we screen several different TED Talks conferences.


Wednesday is jam-packed starting with our weekly One Million Cups Event at 9 a.m. then the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition Winner Announcement luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Joe Crowley Student Union. You can get free tickets for the event here. We will also have a Speed Mentorship Networking Event at 6 p.m. at the Basement. Complimentary beverages will be provided. Students and mentors sign up here.


2015 NCET Awards white stack new dimensions


The 2016 NCET Awards will recognize the best and brightest technologists and technology companies in Reno. The ceremony will take place at the Atlantis Casino. Tickets can be purchased here.


This Friday will be busy for aspiring entrepreneurs.  Starting at 7:15 a.m. at Reno City Hall is the ASSESS LICENSE LAUNCH where presenters will discuss how to finance a business and alternative sources. Register here for the free event.

Assess License Launch April V3

E-Club will be having their Pack Pitch at the Innevation Center from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Do you have a good business concept? Each competitor will be given 2-4 minutes to pitch their idea to an audience and a panel judges to earn prizes. Any visuals needed to support your concept are recommended. Competing teams will be judged on innovation, market identification, competitive advantage, and financial feasibility.  Submit your idea here.  If you are interested in donating funds for the Pack Pitch winners donate here.


Ignite Reno will also be having it’s ongoing series of speedy presentations by lively and energetic personalities at 6:30 p.m. at 250 Lounge at the Freight House District. Get tickets here.

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

Startup Stories: Krysta from Sugar Love Chocolates

Krysta Bea Jackson is the the founder of Sugar Love Chocolates, a local chocolate company that has a store located in Midtown Reno on South Virginia street, as well as an online presence. Krysta is a seller of perishable foods, so she certainly faces some interesting regulations and roadblocks.

Reid: What is Sugar Love Chocolates?

Krysta: Sugar Love Chocolates uses real ingredients from around the world to create unique flavor combinations. The business is both manufacturing and retail (online and in physical stores).

R: Why did you start Sugar Love Chocolates?

K: I had been feeling the itch for another company after selling my first. I had worked in chocolate for years and knew the industry pretty well. I like working in industries that are unsophisticated as I feel like it’s easier to grow quickly within them.

R: What advice would you give to those that are interested in starting up their own business?

K: If you’ve never had a real job (not just a part time sales gig during school), then don’t start a business yet. Going into business is one of the most long-term and strategic activities you can undertake. So going in with no research is foolish. Having a job in the industry of your choosing can teach you lots if you’re paying attention. It also teaches you good skills as a professional that are invaluable. In general, research your project until your friends are annoyed that everything you talk about somehow leads back to your business.

 Going into business is one of the most long-term and strategic activities you can undertake.

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

K: An ability to be both blind to facts (most startups fail) and also take them into account to preserve your business.

R: Where do you see your business in 10 years?

K: In 10 years, there will be 10 retail stores throughout the US with one in Vancouver and potentially my first store in Asia. At that point I will be founder and not CEO, the company will be being groomed for acquisition.

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

K: There are too many to list but currently I’m reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek and am finding lots to chew on. My advice would be to be constantly reading.

Find out more about Krysta and Sugar Love Chocolates here.

Reid Lunceford is the Marketing Coordinator at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and can be reached at  

Startup Stories: Kevin from HighLyfe Entertainment

Kevin is the founder of HighLyfe Entertainment and HighLyfe Xperience, two related travel and entertainment companies that are geared towards collegeaged students. Kevin has some very interesting perspectives on starting a business due to the fact that he played D1 Football while he was creating his company. His interview excerpt follows:

Reid: What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Kevin: One thing that I always tell any other entrepreneur is to save the time and the effort that I expended – try and stick to one thing and do it extremely well before you branch out. It will save you a lot of time and money. Be focused in your goals.

 Try and stick to one thing and do it extremely well.

R: What’s your process for idea generation?

K: I like to keep a book of ideas. Right now I have my core business and I don’t want to venture away from my core business for something that may or may not work. If it’s something that I can add to it and think that it will generate revenue, then I will consider it. However, I like to stay more with my core business because that is what’s bringing money in week in and week out. In the beginning, I wasn’t very good at that because I was all over the place. When you first get into business, you take every opportunity that comes your way, which is not always a good thing because you end up becoming clouded. If you are being pulled many different ways, it’s not going to help you get to where you want to go, as you will not be focused on any one particular thing.

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

K: Time management. Time management is the number one thing that I feel is vital to the success of an entrepreneur. I think that without that, everything else almost falls apart – relationships, networking, and the like. You need people to help you along the way – you can’t do everything yourself and it’s vital to surround yourself with good people. Taking a class here at the University of Nevada, Reno I learned something very vital from Brett Simmons. He talks about in business, the CEO of the company should never take credit for a lot of successes because, most of the time, it’s not just about the CEO of the company. You may have had the idea but you have had to surround yourself with good people in order to be successful.

Time management is the number one thing that I feel is vital to the success of an entrepreneur.

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

K: Like I said before, having a whole bunch of different things to deal with at one time has caused me to fail. It took me a while to realize what my main focus needed to be and what was going to drive revenue for me. I think that was the hardest point for me, and once I realized that, everything else cleared up. It made everything else so much easier, because you aren’t all over the place and you aren’t being pulled all these different ways.

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

K: My theory is that everyone is an entrepreneur. If you ever owned a lemonade stand on the side of the road when you were growing up, then you were an entrepreneur. I believe everyone has the capacity to become a successful entrepreneur, but I believe that when it comes down to it, not everyone is willing to take the risk and put themselves in the situation to possibly lose. I think that entrepreneurs are slightly crazy, because we are willing to risk everything in order to go for our dreams and very few entrepreneurs actually make it, but the few that do, do extremely well. I think that’s what it comes down to.

Everyone is an entrepreneur.

Find out more about Kevin and his company by visiting his website here.

Reid Lunceford is the Marketing Coordinator at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and can be reached at  

Erik Edgington is one of the founders of Nevada Dynamics. Nevada Dynamics “provides the technology infrastructure to integrate existing drone systems into a safe environment where drones can be sent anywhere with the click of a button or swipe of a finger, and data can be immediately uploaded and visualized.”

Startup Stories: Erik from Nevada Dynamics

Erik Edgington is one of the founders of Nevada Dynamics.  Nevada Dynamics “provides the technology infrastructure to integrate existing drone systems into a safe environment where drones can be sent anywhere with the click of a button or swipe of a finger, and data can be immediately uploaded and visualized.” The idea was so impressive in the burgeoning drone field, that Nevada Dynamics was a winner of the prestigious Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, a competition at the University of Nevada that bestows it’s winners with $50,000 dollars of startup. An excerpt of the interview follows:

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

Erik: Keep grinding. The best piece of advice that I have is that its not all glam and glitz, which is the hard part. You see the Mark Zuckerbergs or the Mark Cubans – it’s exciting and it lures a lot of people. What you don’t see is all the late nights that they have and all of the frustration, all the turmoil — as well as the difficulties of managing people, managing projects, managing development. But stick with it and hopefully you can be a success story or still working towards it as well. I don’t have the perspective to say, you know, I have been there and done it; I’m still grinding away and we like what we are doing and we feel we have a good shot at making a play on a good part of this market.

The best piece of advice that I have is that its not all glam and glitz, which is the hard part.

R: What’s your process for idea generation?

E: So on a personal level it is all about solving a problem. If you can find a problem and if there is a possibility of a business being built around it. Just walking around the world around you and keeping your eyes and ears open for issues that people are having; there is probably some kind of benefit that adds value to their life.

On the side of Nevada Dynamics, it is definitely problem based, but we have looked at it more in terms of more of a market specific base. So we have taken all of these different use cases – okay drones can be used for this and this – all these different things we have gone through and say “okay in order to use a drone for search and rescue what functions do we need? Okay you need this, this and this.” Then we look at what market segments are most viable right now. Is delivery the most viable market right now? Not really. Its really figuring out who our customer is and who we want our customer to be. What do we need to do to make their drone use happen? Getting our functionality and ideas is really customer driven for us.

 If you can find a problem and if there is a possibility of a business being built around it.

R: What would you say is your biggest failure?

E: Our Biggest failure I believe is product creep and pivoting. Again, it’s a failure and success. We have struggled to stay focused on one good idea; which people did tell us we were going to struggle with in the beginning. I think that was a little bit due to our inexperience as entrepreneurs and really just trying to figure out what the drone industry was doing. We have gone to a lot of these conferences and we have done a ton of research, so I think its a little bit of we needed to find our own and we needed to see where we could fit. It’s really understandable however because we have new pieces of information that influenced our views and with each new piece of information, we get a better idea of the direction we should be moving in. Really if we don’t pivot, we probably fail.

R: What have you learned about leadership and management from running your startup?

E: I think the biggest thing that I have learned is everybody has a different personality so you can’t take the one style fits all to management. We are at a disadvantage as well because most of our people aren’t getting paid. You are managing people that just want to be there. You have a title over them, which doesn’t mean anything because we are all in the trenches together. Really I feel like it has been more working together rather than managing and I think that has been the biggest thing that I have learned – you have to understand where everyone is coming from, where they are at in their life and what they have going on, and adjust your style accordingly. I think just trying to keep the morale up is also huge especially when you have guys who are just working for sweat equity and they are just cranking away. That’s been the most challenging part: inspiring the vision and continually renewing inspiration in the vision and getting everybody pumped back up and moving on the same page.

You have to understand where everyone is coming from, where they are at in their life and what they have going on, and adjust your style accordingly.

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

E: I think the biggest difference between an entrepreneur and someone more interested in having a 9-5 job is the risk to reward. I think that entrepreneurs are interested in creating something huge. The difference would have to be the creative side of things and the ability to create and make something happen. At the end of the day you can be like “that is mine, I created that.” And if it works that was on me and if doesn’t work that’s on me as well; you really have to be able to do both. I think you’ll see a lot of entrepreneurs are naturally competitive as well: its that willing and want to win and make it to the next level.

R: How do you spend your time outside of business?

E: I like to do something that can take my mind off of business. You are so immersed in it all the time that it gets hard to escape. One of the things that I have found recently that I enjoy is rock climbing. For me it is a great way to escape my own head because when I’m on the wall I can’t think of much else or I fall; its almost like a forced relaxation. I also enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and girlfriend to help me get away.

If you are interested in participating in Nevada Dynamic’s upcoming Beta, information for applying can be found on their website:

Reid Lunceford is the Marketing Coordinator at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and can be reached at  

Lauren Klein on Gender Parity and Female Entrepreneurs

By Brendan Aguiar

In honor of International Women’s Day, where we acknowledge and celebrate women from around the world for their social, economic, cultural, and political achievements,  we at the Ozmen Center of Entrepreneurship approached communities strategist Lauren Klein to talk about her company Girlmade that specifically helps women in business entrepreneurship build their skills and business acumen.

What can you tell me about yourself?

I grew up in Big Rapids, Michigan. My father was a dean and my mother was a professor at Ferris State University. So I grew up in the academia frame of mind or as I like to say, with learning in my bones. Everything that I embody is about education, learning, bettering oneself, and being agile in your approach to life, which is what and why I think I’ve been successful. A decade ago my husband’s company moved us from Silicon Valley to California.   I acquired Girlmade as an opportunity to not only invest in Girl Empire, but more importantly in women who want to play big. I look forward to help women in the high capital growth realm, which is why I took it upon myself to be a catalyst.

Everything that I embody is about education, learning, bettering oneself, and being agile in your approach to life, which is what and why I think I’ve been successful

Why do you believe there are few women with high growth in the business community?

We need a big fund that invests in female founders. There are several people discussing the deal flow and opportunities and they are coming. This is why the venture community and ecosystem will adjust with it. Our ecosystem and technology landscape is changing, so too will our investment community as diversity makes sense.

How do you propose we reach a solution?

There are many ways. Seek out new talent in your ventures, teams and organizations. If you don’t have a diverse network, you can reach out to others to ask them for referrals or connect to networks or organizations like Girlmade to help you reach a new talent pool or audience. I lead a talent network of women where we coach, guide, support and mentor female founders and entrepreneurs. When you develop your boards, I would encourage you to think about recruiting diverse thinkers to help provide you with different perspectives and innovative thinking.

What more can you tell me about Girlmade?

We focus on helping women play big. We inspire, connect and provide them with professional service and educational offerings that allow them to succeed in business. From business acumen training, pitching to leadership and technology skill building.

We focus on helping women play big.


Learn more about Girlmade, visit their website here.  Find out more about Lauren Klein, visit her website here

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

4 Tips on Networking with Mentors

By Brendan Aguiar

With the Speed Mentorship Networking program coming up this Wednesday, February 24th at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship, we would like to provide you with tips for networking with potential mentors. Before we get started, you may be wondering what is a mentor?

A mentor is any person who possesses a certain type of knowledge, resources, and influence in the community, who can help you get your foot in the door for whatever business idea you have or profession you are pursuing. We will be bringing in mentors from throughout the Reno community next Wednesday. Here are five tips to help you network with a potential mentor.

1. Be Prepared

The first thing you should do when getting ready for any event is to make sure you are well prepared. You should always dress to impress. Note, this doesn’t mean anyone should put on lavish make up or buy expensive cufflinks. Be mindful of the kind of event you’re attending and dress appropriately. As for the Speed Mentorship Networking program, casual business attire is recommended. Bringing business cards, portfolios, resumes, sample works, etc. can be useful as well when presenting yourself to potential mentors.

2. Have Clear Goals

Think about what you want to accomplish before you attend the event. It is important to have attainable short term goals.  A short term goal could be as simple as wanting to connect with someone who will help turn your business idea into something tangible or someone who could use your expertise to support their business idea. Smaller goals eventually lead to bigger goals until you finally have the bigger picture.

3. Develop a Social Connection

Although it’s important for you to present yourself to a potential mentor, it is equally important to learn about them as well. Be sure to ask them plenty of questions about who they are and what they do, but also get to know them on a personal level.

Ask for stories rather than answers.

See how they view the world and what led them to their accomplishments and it will lead to a stronger relationship between you and your mentor. Even if the person you’re connecting with isn’t a mentor, be sure to ask them who they may know that could be a potential mentor for you.

4. Schedule a Follow-up

Once you’ve developed a connection with a potential mentor, it is time to follow-up with them. Be sure to ask for their business cards and preferred method of contact. Some people prefer texts and emails while others are more centered around social media.

Regardless of your mentor’s preference, it is a good idea to friend or follow them on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin., etc.

It is also a good idea to do a google search on them and the business they’re a part of as well. Follow-up within 3 days to get the best results.

Learning to network is very useful, not just for building relationships with mentors, but with sales people, business prospects, entrepreneurs, and all kinds of people on a professional and personal level as well. It is a technique that is improved upon over time.

With the right mindset and determination, you will be able to harness and find the mentors you need who can help you move forward and succeed in your business career. Special thanks to sales expert, Alice Heiman, for the networking tips she helped to provide for this blog.

You can learn more about Alice at her website here.  Brendan Aguiar is the Social Media Intern and the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship he can be reached here on LinkedIn. 

UNR Startup Connects Students with Businesses

By Alexandria Malone

Founded by alumni George Nicholas (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ‘15) and Frank Olson (B.S. Electrical Engineering ‘15), Dringo is an online platform dedicated to connecting students at the University of Nevada to business in the area.

After he graduated, George started the rounds of networking that often consume a recent graduate’s time.

He saw that businesses in the community were eager to work with students of the university, but didn’t always know where to start.

George said, “Outside of a couple of career fairs, businesses don’t know where to go to get in contact with students. By giving them an online resource, we have opened up that line of communication.”

Beyond internships and jobs, we tap into the projects that students are required to complete and connect them with needs of local businesses. This allows students to gain not only a grade, but also stronger connections in the community, opening up doors with potential employers. From a business’ perspective, this collaboration gives valuable insight as to how an intern or project partner fits in that business, which makes the process of hiring a student or recent Nevada grad smarter and more attractive.

Thanks to Mridul Gautam, vice president of innovation and research, we work out of the Applied Research Facility on campus, which allows us to meet with student groups and faculty members freely. We get invaluable advice and feedback from Matt Westfield, entrepreneurship faculty member, and Tod Colegrove, head of the DeLaMare Library.

This semester, we are focusing our efforts to marketing.

We want every student at Nevada to know what we do and use our site to further themselves and make themselves more competitive when they graduate.

We will speak in every class and club meeting we are welcome in. We want to be able to walk through campus and have students stop us and ask how we can help them.

We at Dringo share a common goal: to build something that solves a problem and helps others. We consider our education at Nevada to be our competitive advantage. We know how to navigate the university and are able to use our experiences to help others.

Find out more about Dringo here. 

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge Inspires Young Entrepreneur

Isabela Reyes-Klein is a freshman at the STEM Academy at Galena High school and a  national winner of the 2015  Samsung Solve for Tomorrow challenge. 

She shared her experience with the Ozmen Center Center for Entrepreneurship as a guest blogger. 

How the challenge inspired me, and now I am wanting more

During the beginning of my freshman year our STEM class was learning how to sketch 3D objects. By the end of it, most of us had drawn up conceptual models of adaptive equipment meant to help our disabled peers.

That’s a drastic change, how did that happen?

It began once we found out we were entered in the first round of the Samsung Challenge. The challenge sponsors (Samsung) realized our project held great potential. The three freshman classes realized our project’s potential around the same time. Everyone was startled out of view-point sketching, and was sucked into a vortex of engineering principles, client interviews, and figuring out how to use AutoDesk programs.

What was the challenge?

The SSTC, Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge, challenged K-12 schools to find a prevalent issue in their community, then solve it using STEM principles.

What did you learn from the challenge?

I learned that I really liked the engineering design process. I learned that I absolutely loved interviewing students then designing and innovating devices that could help them in their everyday lives. Hunter and Kenny shared with me their hearing and seeing difficulties firsthand.

I feel a project like this, that gives you a taste of what a career would be like, was pivotal on my stance on engineering. I am now interest in a career that’s a bit more computer science based. I am looking forward to taking classes on coding that Galena currently doesn’t offer, but maybe one day will. The SSTC has also taught me ALL the  different steps that you have to take if you want to bring a product to market, it was vital information to learn since I’m an aspiring entrepreneur. I would love to get involved with classes that give you real-world experience like the challenge did, not only as a one-time thing. I would also love for it to be present throughout my, and everyone else’s education.

Isabela was the project manager for the 2015 National Championship team who won the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge.  A member of the Galena cross country, lacrosse, debate teams,  and winner of the Nevada Museum of Art Teen Jury Prize for directing and producing a 3 minute film titled, “The Addlers,” the accomplished teen believes entrepreneurship, “is an area of study where we aren’t bound by limitations.” She hopes with the support of the InNEVation Center her class can receive legal advice to move their winning project forward. 


Is Crowdfunding for you? 5 Questions from Expert Debe Fennell

Crowdfunding expert Debe Fennell provided students with her insights into crowd funding from years of experience. She offered a free crowd-funding workshop on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. In case you weren’t able to make the workshop she provided a few questions to consider before launching your next crowdfunding campaign. Before you begin it is important to realize crowdfunding is not for everyone, if you aren’t willing to participate in social media, ask for donations, and have an active mailing list, this list is not for you.

1.  Are you a business?

Sounds simple but the importance of having a business plan will help you identify how much financial support you will need. Before you begin you must begin to establish a legal business and have a business plan. This includes having a marketing strategy and ramping up your social media presence.

2. How much money do you want to raise?

There is a correlation between the amount of money you want to raise and your crowd. For example if you want to raise $5,000 and you have 100 people in your email database, your goal would be to have everyone on this list donate $50. Now you must consider realistically how many in your list will click on the link and donate. A smaller list lessens your funding ability. Social media is another key component of crowdfunding.

3. How big is your database?

Not everyone will donate, but using social media gives you the opportunity to grow your crowd and increase your funding pool. Assessing your crowd can help you identify how you can potentially grow that crowd, using lists you can access from connecting with your network.

“The whole point of crowdfunding it to spread the word about your project, what you’re trying to do, and get others talking about it, sharing it, and widening your sphere of influence to a larger and larger group of people,” according to Debe.

4. Who can benefit from your success?
Once you begin sharing your product or idea there may be clients or vendors who can benefit from your success, meaning they will be more inclined to help you find success.

Debe said, “It’s up to you to create a community with the people who’ve shown an interest in what you’re doing.”

5. How hard are you willing to work?

Successful crowdfunding takes a great amount of effort and the willingness to use all available mediums, including Facebook, Twitter, interviews, articles, attending networking events and mixers.

Crowdfunders ask relatives, friends and businesses to help them and employ creative ways to get their product, business or message out. Crowdfunding requires actively telling people about your project and telling them how donating to the project will reward them.

Debe said, “It takes work, but rewards can be great. You can be sure that if you don’t do the work, marketing, no one will ever know.”

Find out more information about crowdfunding follow Debe on Twitter and Facebook.

How to get a business partner and win the Governor’s Cup: Chase Houston’s Story

Sitting in what has become his corner of the Ozmen Center, Chase Houston works quietly on his laptop. Occasionally he will share how many hours of sleep he got the night before, it is never close to the recommended amount, yet a smile remains on his face despite his long nights.

For this young entrepreneur, sleep has always been a challenge. During high school he was diagnosed with narcolepsy. His ability to stay energized in every realm of life from work, school, and his personal life became a daily struggle for Houston to overcome.

Because of his condition Houston has had to work hard to find ways to maintain a steady workflow and achieve his goals. Despite these challenges Houston has managed to work as an account executive at a software company while taking three graduate entrepreneurship classes at the University of Nevada, Reno, and completing his business plan to enter in the Nevada Governor’s Cup Competition.

What motivates Houston is, “a constant thriving for a new challenge.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in Japanese from the University of Nevada, Reno. He studied Japanese and played waterpolo for Kwansei Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan where he lived for a year.

The three-time governor’s cup competitor was a finalist for 2 consecutive years for the award as an undergraduate at UNR. His winning company is an innovative lithium- ion battery anode design that allows current batteries to have ten times more energy.

Chase’s partner in the Governor’s Cup was Mohammed Danyan. Houston and Danyan met on the graduate school council for the College of Business. Their company Hana Battery Technologies began after a series of conversations between the two students.

“Mo originally said ‘no, I am way too busy’,” said Houston.

Replying to Danyan Houston said, “So am I but I really think we are on to something big…I kept bugging him and he finally agreed to do it.”

Their conversation about competing began in the fall, once they solidified their idea they began developing their business plan in January.

Danyan is both a Ph. D Student and an MBA student.

“I couldn’t have done it without him, he is the scientific brain behind the operation,” said Houston.

Throughout the competition Houston and Danyan developed a mindset of moving forward whether or not they won or lost the competition.

“The way I looked at it, I kept telling him whenever we were getting stuck, either way if we don’t win we are still accomplishing something and moving forward,” said Houston.

The team will now move on to compete in the D.W. Reynolds Tri- State competition held in Las Vegas to compete against the top teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada where they can potentially win $118,000.

“It wasn’t the cash that got me excited, it was the recognition for our hard work, and for once people wanted to come and shake my hand instead of the other way around.”

The team’s efforts paid off as they took home a total of $25,000 for their company during last week’s awards dinner.

Houston began his career working as the director of international sales for a renewable energy Wind Turbine startup in Reno after graduating. He made a connection during a networking event with an entrepreneur at a new company and was hired once he graduated.

“I have a knack for relating to various types of people and establishing lasting connections. ”

Following this job Houston has served in many roles in a diverse range of industries from data center power management to commercial real estate, and has traveled to over twenty countries working with U. S. ambassadors in Europe and Asia.

“I was originally planning on becoming an orthopedic surgeon. I was gun-ho on going into the medical field then I took organic chemistry and realized this wasn’t for me,” said Houston.

Houston feels having a diverse background has allowed him to figure out what he enjoys doing the most. Growing up Houston’s parents were enthusiast and encouraging about his career options, never limiting his possibilities.

He recalls being told we could achieve anything, now he understands however, while he can try to achieve success in many fields, where he wants to achieve success has become clear.

“There are endless things to do but if I want to do something I truly love, then it would be in entrepreneurship,” said Houston.