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

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!

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.

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.

MONDAY

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 

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.

THURSDAY

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.

FRIDAY 

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.

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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 reidlunceford@gmail.com  

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 reidlunceford@gmail.com  

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: www.nevadadynamics.com

Reid Lunceford is the Marketing Coordinator at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship and can be reached at reidlunceford@gmail.com  

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.