For many students of the Ira A. Fulton Engineering Schools and through Arizona State University, entrepreneurial thinking is more than a skill, it’s a state of mind. Creating innovative solutions to challenges is part of the entrepreneurial spirit embraced by many members of the ASU community, where innovation is a source of pride.
Entrepreneurship + Innovation @ Fulton serves as a connecting and collaborative resource for entrepreneurs at all stages and offers a wealth of opportunities to learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation both in the classroom and beyond.
Second-year electrical engineering student Chanese Smith introduced herself as an entrepreneurial technician at Techiepalooza 2021. The event gave business founders the opportunity to connect with technicians seeking to put their technological skills at the service of entrepreneurial companies based on ASU. Photo by Erika Gronek / ASU
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One such opportunity is Techiepalooza, a networking mixer hosted at ASU and sponsored by Hool Coury’s Law. At the 2021 event, founders of start-ups across the valley were able to reach out to ASU’s community of âtechniciansâ to help them fill the roles necessary for their businesses to succeed.
Kyle squires, Dean of Fulton Schools and Vice-Chancellor of Engineering, Computing and Technology at ASU, opened the event by reminding attendees that the ASU community is here to support, engage and foster an environment welcoming to explore new ideas.
âI want to reinforce the value of entrepreneurship and the impact of the entrepreneurial mindset at ASU and the Fulton Schools,â Squires said. âYour idea could turn into a real business that will lead to the creation of a business. However, even if that doesn’t happen eventually, the process of thinking and planning how your idea can have the most impact, where you can take it, and what you need to do to refine, shape, and improve. continually this idea will serve you. very well.”
Techiepalooza has its roots in a 2012 event of the same name that was designed to bring together the growing community of technicians and contractors in the Phoenix area. Some of the ASU students, alumni and community members who attended were among those who attended the recent event.
Michael hool, Founder and Managing Partner of Hool Coury Law, as well as Associate Professor at ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, was involved in the original event and would not have missed the opportunity to reinvigorate it. The event, he says, delivers value by bringing together entrepreneurial engineering and business students to network and learn how they can help each other in the startup space.
âThere are engineering startups and then there are business school startups. Business school startups can be a little light on technology, and engineers may not know a lot about business, âHool said. âWe have these great schools here at ASU, so we wanted to give them the opportunity to come together and build teams and build great companies with a lot more chance of success. “
Five lessons for technicians
- Have a clear vision. When starting a business, innovators need to be clear about the goals they want to achieve. He noted that visions can change, but it’s important to know what really resonates with people and to recognize why you care about the solution you come up with. âHaving a clear vision of how you want to change the world is actually more important initially than the actual product you are building,â Scoresby said. âThis is what allows you to attract other people to this vision. “
- Have the right tools. Scoresby admitted that this was an area he struggled with early on in his entrepreneurial journey. âPart of having the right tools means not building what you don’t have to build,â he said. âSometimes you can spend a lot of time and resources creating something that you can get in the market and that you can connect with. I made a bunch of mistakes around the wrong tools. Think about the tools and ask other people who have started businesses how they found what works.
- Choose your team wisely. The third lesson of Scoresby is to have the right people. An example he gave: If you need an electrician, don’t go out and hire a plumber. In his experience, said Scoresby, companies do two things, make products and sell products. âIf you already have a group of people who can build, maybe you need someone who can actually bring your product to market. Make sure you have the right people from the start, who in turn will help you get the right tools.
- Take it out into the wild. Scoresby’s advice is to market your business and product as early as possible to get feedback. The first version of a product won’t be perfect, and getting feedback early on will prevent you from further developing something that won’t work for the consumer. âYou have to get it out there so people can give you feedback,â Scoresby said. âThen you can say, ‘I have to refine this, I have to fix this problem, I have to improve this. You have to have the confidence and the courage to do it, but get it out as soon as possible. “
- Recognize that there are always problems to be solved. The last lesson Scoresby shared comes from the movie âThe Martian,â which he says is perhaps the best commentary on startups he’s ever seen. When starting a new business, âit’s just one problem after another, but it can be really engaging, really motivating and, for the right people, can also be inspiring,â he said. declared. âThis is a key lesson for the success of the products and the company. “
Scoresby gave words of encouragement to the room filled with students looking to build their technological future in startups.
âI think we’re a little bit wrong with some of these parts here and there,â he said. âWe have to have a really big vision, but we don’t need to let the vision take over. At first, start small, then move quickly and learn as you go.
Startups succeed when worlds collide
The last Techiepalooza session allowed the founders of startups to present their companies and products to technicians looking to bring their expertise to the founders. Hool saw this integration of founders and technicians as two worlds “in collision”.
One of those founders was Andrew Deros, a senior mechanical engineer at Higher School of Matter, Transport and Energy Engineers, one of seven Fulton schools and a junior industrial design student at ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. His company, Memory glass, aims to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease recognize people they don’t remember.
âOur hope with this device is to reconnect the world,â said Deros. âToday I’m really here because we handled the hardware side, but our software is lacking, and I would really need help with that. “
When he learned of the event, Deros knew it would be an opportunity to find the right people to help his business.
âI came to Techiepalooza to try to create something because we have all the creative freedom in the world,â he said.
Some students in the room attended in the hopes of finding businesses that required their particular skills. One of those technicians was Chanese Smith, in her second year of electrical engineering in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the Fulton schools. She attended the event to meet entrepreneurs and network with other technicians.
âThese two colliding worlds are the best of both worlds for me right now,â Smith said. “I’m all about entrepreneurship and being a technical person.”
Smith designs websites and marketing materials for businesses and wants to use his skills to help start-up businesses.
âI hope to team up with a great company that is right for me, where I can help them in their endeavors and be an asset to them to the best of my ability,â Smith said. âI can’t wait to meet more people and see what all businesses are good for. “
Have you heard of Venture Devils?
Venture Devils is a program of Arizona State University J. Orin Edson Institute Entrepreneurship + Innovation which strives to put startup founders on the path to entrepreneurial success by connecting them with business mentors who provide regular and ongoing support. The program is designed to challenge, monitor and advance the business development process.
âVenture Devils is your one stop shop for all things entrepreneurship at ASU,â said Brittany Martin, the Senior Program Manager and a speaker at the Techiepalooza 2021 event.
âWe support students, staff, faculty and alumni, and we currently have over 700 (students) in the program,â Martin said. “We are growing every year and we have continual funding requests that go throughout the year.”
Venture Devils applications are accepted and processed five times per year, coinciding with the start dates of Fall A & B, Spring A & B, and Summer C semesters. The Venture Devils program aims to engage, mentor and fund founders who are actively working on problem solving.
To learn more about Venture Devils, visit the program page website.