Thursday, January 26, 2017

Becoming a Student Entrepreneur: I Have No IdeaHub Where to Start by Jordan Orpia

What is an entrepreneur and what does it take to be one? Entrepreneurs are commonly believed to be brilliant individuals who understand how to start companies through their ideas. Truthfully, these aspiring entrepreneurs are unaware of where to begin, but are “passionate about their idea and willing to take a risk” (Goldsmith). For one to create a company, or further oneself in the general world of business, requires connections, mentors and experience. Where would one look for those mentors? Where would one gain that experience? Where would one find these connections? The Hofstra University IdeaHub is the answer to these questions.

Located in Room 246 on the second floor of the Axinn Library, the recently established IdeaHub is a collaborative laboratory for students interested in entrepreneurship and seeking mentorship to develop their business ideas. It is the home of the Center for Entrepreneurship and all entrepreneurially-focused student organizations on campus. The Center for Entrepreneurship’s objective is “to provide Hofstra University’s students, faculty, staff and alumni with the skills and training necessary to become accomplished entrepreneurs” (Goldsmith). They provide an incubator, which helps a startup company survive and grow through the difficult and vulnerable early stages of development. In addition, there are Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who are experienced entrepreneurs, investors and corporate executives readily available by appointment for startup company advice. As a declared Entrepreneurship major entering Hofstra University, I am thankful to have discovered this valuable resource early on.

Upon my arrival at Hofstra University, I was clueless about how I could become a real entrepreneur, due to the new and unfamiliar environment. I began joining many student organizations on campus, in search of the connections I needed to further my skills. One day my suite mate received an email about the first Hofstra University Start-Ups club meeting and invited me to attend. The email stated the meeting’s location would be held at the IdeaHub and gave exact directions of how to find it. I remember walking toward the elevators in front of the library cafĂ©, taking the elevator up to the second floor, exiting the elevator and turning right, walking down the hall and approaching “Honors College” in big gold letters and finally seeing the name IdeaHub on the glass door to our right. Nervous of what was to come and unknowing if the individuals in the room were fully established entrepreneurs, my suite mate and I entered. I instantly felt at ease and welcomed into the entrepreneurship community when we were greeted warmly by the students. At the meeting, I discovered that not everyone attending was a business major, confirming that entrepreneurship is open to anyone, regardless of major.

Sharon Goldsmith, the Director of Operations for the Center for Entrepreneurship, gave advice for those who thought about being an entrepreneur but do not know if they want to. She said, “Come to the IdeaHub and hang out with student entrepreneurs because the best way to realize your potential is to get out there and start having conversations about your ideas” (Goldsmith). I interviewed a couple of students on campus about their aspirations and their strengths and weaknesses for achieving their goal. A Biology major, Trevor Hunter, expressed that someday he wants to start his own veterinary practice. I asked about what aspects he knows and what he needs if he were to create the company now. Trevor understands and “learns through [his] work experience how to actually care for the animals…[he] would not know the business end, like legalities, accounting, and other back end aspects” (Hunter), which is the IdeaHub’s expertise. They offer one help through each step of the business process, finding potential legalities, determining how much capital one would require and how to gain traction. Like Trevor, Monica Boretsky, a Business Management major and Dance minor, has ideas for starting up her own business: a dance studio in her hometown. I asked what connections and knowledge she has currently if she were to create it now. Monica “has the dance portion of the business covered because it is [her] passion… but [she] has not thought of the other aspects, especially when it comes to numbers, as well as branding and real estate” (Boretsky). I noticed my interviewees have a problem that many aspiring entrepreneurs have; they understand the front end, the service or product they provide, but do not understand the business back end. The IdeaHub can help them find the team they need to overcome these business obstacles and become real entrepreneurs. In the end, every business idea can be accomplished if one surrounds oneself with the appropriate connections and mentors.

Even if one does not aspire to own or start a business, one still has to work and that usually means getting hired by a company someday. The IdeaHub is a “great resource to be able to talk to other aspiring entrepreneurs; you might get inspired and feel brave enough to take the leap of faith to start your own project or you might be able to join another entrepreneur’s team and gain the experience you will need without having to forward yourself” (Goldsmith). No matter what major one is or what idea one has, we advise them to take the first leap of faith and explore the world of entrepreneurship at the IdeaHub where everyone is welcome.

Works Cited

        Boretsky, Monica. Personal interview. 1 Nov. 2016.

Goldsmith, Sharon. Personal interview. 31 Oct. 2016.

Hunter, Trevor. Personal interview. 1 Nov. 2016.

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