Inside USD

Entrepreneurial Students Can Access Alumni Insight

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So you want to be an entrepreneur? It’s the ultimate high risk-high reward path, one that requires a person or a group of people to put everything they have into an idea, to nurture it and, essentially, live it 24/7. Entrepreneurs follow their passion, want to control their career, run their own business and are the boss.

Good or bad — and yes, entrepreneurship involves its share of failure — something everyone can agree on as entrepreneurs is the need to try. You won’t truly know how good or bad your idea is until you try.

That’s why University of San Diego students — regardless if you’re just beginning to think about the entrepreneurial world, have an idea but don’t know how to proceed, have an idea that’s about to launch or even one that has launched — should consider attending the inaugural USD Entrepreneurship Legacy Conference on Thursday, Oct. 25, starting at 5:30 p.m. in Mother Rosalie Hill Hall’s Warren Auditorium.

What better way to learn about the good, the bad and everything in between than by hearing from professional entrepreneurs who are living it now — and have something in common with the students they’ll meet and talk to at this event?

“This is a chance to inspire our current students and allow them to interact with USD alumni entrepreneurs, get mentored by people who know how it feels to be in their shoes,” said Mike Lawless, professor of management in the School of Business Administration. “It’s a chance for our alumni to motivate, inspire our students and to give them some technical pointers.”

The 10 alumni entrepreneurs scheduled for Thursday’s event are Stephan Aarstol ’99 (MBA), founder of Tower Paddle Boards (pictured, at right); Tom Breitling ’91 (BA), Wynn Resorts (pictured, top); Anita Mahaffey ’80 (BBA), CEO of Cool-Jams Wicking Sleep Products; Mitch Thrower ’01 (MBA), Founder, BUMP Network, The Active Group; Max Ball ’12, Approach Mobile; Chase Yost ’12, Founder, CEO of TAUKN, Inc.; Terry Moore ’93 (MBA), Moore Venture Partners; Sioma Waisburd ’03 (BBA), Founder, Amnistad; Jason Sweeney ’02 (JD/MBA), CEO Legal Telepresence, LLC; and Maria Emilia Ollervides ‘95 (BAcc.).

The program will start with a conversation between Lawless and alumnus Thrower, before moving on to alumni panel discussions about “What I Know Now,” and finally, a speed-networking opportunity for students to speak personally to individual alumni in 15-minute conversation increments.

“This event will be highly interactive and engaging,” Lawless said. “This is definitely a chance for students to ask questions and get answers.”

The 10 alumni, all from different USD academic disciplines, different backgrounds and each with their own entrepreneurial experiences, should deliver something for everyone in attendance. This worthwhile event is especially helpful to business students interested in gaining points toward their SBA Professional Development Undergraduate Passport Program.

Thursday’s Entrepreneurship Legacy Conference also serves as a catalyst for another entrepreneurial experience Lawless leads at USD. Venture Vetting (V2) is a competition where the venture and the entrepreneur, rather than the business plan, are vetted by potential investors. V2 debuted last April. The second event, scheduled for April 18, 2013, will see its finalists vie for $25,000 in prize money, up from $15,000 last spring. The V2 competition, open to all USD students, is conducting Idea Lab events leading up to the March 14, 2013 entry deadline. Lawless hosts “Pitch 101” on Nov. 1, 12:30 p.m. in Olin Hall, Room 326.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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