Entrepreneurship Explored

Posted: Thursday, November 6th 2014 at 4:46 PM

By Megan Dressler, Student Writer

The FCB Business Division’s first Entrepreneurship Week kicked off October 6, 2014. The week of events showcased entrepreneurs from many different fields, from around the country and within our own community, in order to excite and inform students about exploring entrepreneurial opportunities.

Monday afternoon featured Robert Anderson, CEO of Prisma, a printing company that specializes in packaging. His topic, “Never Say Die – Using Failure as Your Motivation,” communicated to students that they should never allow their failures to stand in the way of their progress and to use these failures to fuel their success. Anderson also spoke about the merits of entering a field of business that is not flashy or popular. He shared a story of a friend that started a business in the wire rope field and transformed his business into a multi-million dollar venture. Anderson stressed that while making money in lesser-known fields might be hard, succeeding can be rewarding.

Tuesday evening, Tevis Howard, founder of Komaza, shared his story about becoming a social entrepreneur. Howard graduated as a neuroscience major, but he created an organization based around forestry. He spoke about how his business helps African farmers pull themselves out of poverty by teaching them how to plant and sell trees in the thriving wood market. He explained how his path to becoming a social entrepreneur was far different than starting a purely for-profit business, especially in garnering startup funding. Additionally, the timetable for breaking even and eventually making a profit is much longer in these endeavors. Said international student, Frederica Santarsiero, “[Mr. Howard] was very passionate about what he was saying. I took away that it is possible to make a business and do something good together.”

Wednesday evening, local entrepreneurs fielded questions about their restaurants and food enterprises in the panel event, If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen, moderated by School of Hotel and Restaurant Management Executive Director, Dr. Wanda Costen. The panelists, Mike Konefal of Rising Hy; David Ledbetter of NiMarco’s Pizza; Jamie Thousand of Satchmo’s and Grand Canyon Spice Company; and Paul Moir of Brix, Criollo, and Proper Meats and Provisions, were asked about how they started their businesses and what skills and competencies were essential for entrepreneurs. Dr. Costen noted that, based upon the entrepreneurs’ comments, discipline is a critical trait for a successful entrepreneur. Additionally, those with a desire to operate their own company need to have the drive and motivation to get things done. These are a few of the skills needed to survive and eventually prosper.

Thursday afternoon’s entrepreneur anchor was Alan Lobock, best known for co-founding Sky Mall, Inc. He encouraged students to “sell” themselves, whether it be to a potential employer or to potential investors. He emphasized they must learn to “finish the sentence.” For example, if a person writes on their resume that they can type 100 words per minute, they need to ask themselves “So what?” and answer the question in a way that would make the prospective employer perceive them as valuable. In this case, being able to type faster obviously makes that student more efficient and at a higher output rate than other candidates.

[Photo caption: Entrepreneur Alan Lobock, judge of the Elevator Pitch Competition, coaches students after their delivery.]

In selling a venture, “finishing the sentence” is just as important. Entrepreneurs need to make sure that their potential investors arrive at the desired conclusion about their venture as they give their “elevator pitch.” The easiest way to do that is to outline for their audience what that conclusion should be. Santarsiero’s takeaway? “Don’t let others make conclusions about yourself.”

Friday closed the week with two outstanding entrepreneurs whose topics centered around "Igniting the Entrepreneur Within."

Martin Casado, co-founder and CTO of Nicira Networks, Inc. a company that develops Network Hypervisor, a solution that transforms data center networks, is a VMware Fellow, Sr. VP, GM, CTO for VMware, Inc. in Palo Alto, California. He spoke about holding your cards close to you when speaking to venture capitalists and not sharing everything with them, as well as understanding the market size and how you’re company intends to capture that market. "He said to be specific and never give up on your dream. He said it is important to understand the fundamentals of business, including operations and relate to things you know well," shared student Kiara Weathersby. Casado ended with a story about the day that his brain changed. He spoke about how he hiked a lot as an undergraduate and one day, while hiking in the Grand Canyon, he saw a man running who was going Rim to Rim. Afterward, Martin decided that he was going to run Rim to Rim and ended up almost dying from dehydration, but he knew it was possible and that pushed him through. This story really impressed Weathersby as well.

Peter Mann, CEO of Oransi, a manufacturer of industrial grade air filtration products. Said Skylar Coombs, graduate assistant, of Mann's presentation, "Peter Mann’s overarching goal was to inspire future entrepreneurs. He accomplished this by highlighting several areas. He started by providing background information on his failures, successes, and future plans. He commented several times that it is risky to be an entrepreneur, but that there is a lot more upside [to it]. Mr. Mann encouraged the students to look for opportunities to obtain more knowledge about the areas they are interested in. He emphasized that this will prepare them to evolve with the business world, recognize areas that they can develop and improve, and to make the proper choices for their futures. He ended with an inspiring talk about not limiting yourself as an entrepreneur and to never hesitate helping others along their way."

Entrepreneurship Week was designed as a lead-in to the campus-wide Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) Startup Weekend. Martin Casado served as the key note speaker for the event. Over the course of the weekend, students formed teams and were taught how to flesh out their venture ideas and turn them into viable business endeavors. The winners of the competition were Caitlin Cerra (Economics), Anthony Robinson (Business minor), Jonathan Yamasaki (Management), Jonathan Fragen (Computer Information Systems), and Christopher Forgach (Business minor).

Entrepreneurship Week’s impacts on students are numerous, from teaching students how to build businesses, to how to manage restaurants, to encouraging students of other majors to explore their entrepreneurial spirit. The recurring theme heard was to not allow difficulties to stand in the way of your entrepreneurial success.

Entrepreneurship Week Schedule HERE

Categories: flagstaff business news nau business news students fall 2014 2014 entrepreneurship week entrepreneurship robert anderson prisma tevis howard komaza mike konefal rising hy david ledbetter nimarco's pizza jamie thousand satchmo's grand canyon spice company paul moir brix criollo proper meat and provisions alan lobock martin casado peter mann oransi nicira networks, inc. vmware