October is now Techtober 2016

For the second year in a row, Arkansans will celebrate Techtober in October. This time, however, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has put his stamp of approval on the celebration.

The governor announced that October would be Techtober in 2016 according to a recent press release, “Governor Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed the month of October as Techtober in Arkansas — an opportunity to attend the many technology and entrepreneurship events passionate Arkansans have created, to celebrate Arkansas’ tech heritage and build the future of innovation and entrepreneurship here in Arkansas.

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Start Here LR launches with event for local entrepreneurs

Start Here Little Rock, an organization composed of various partners from the city, held the organization’s kickoff event in late August with more than 100 people attending the event at Ron Robinson theater. The event was originally scheduled to be hosted by the Clinton School, but the event was moved to Robinson theater due to interest and to accommodate more people.

The organization is a pilot program of the national Start Here Initiative. The mission is to engage minorities and women in the Central Arkansas area in accessing resources and training for entrepreneurship.

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St. Louis is the New Startup Frontier

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In 2013, when I was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, I flew to St. Louis to learn about the city’s budding startup scene. The city, like the rest of the U.S., was stuck in a decades-long entrepreneurial slump that had left its economy dependent on a handful of big, staid corporations — corporations that were pulling up stakes to head overseas at a rate that alarmed local leaders. (The city’s iconic brewer, Anheuser-Busch, had been sold to a Belgian conglomerate five years earlier.) But an informal coalition of local business leaders, wealthy investors and ambitious 20-somethings were trying to spark an entrepreneurial revival in the Arch City. They had launched a fund to invest in local ventures, created entrepreneurship clubs at local universities, and converted part of a massive downtown office building into an unlikely startup hub.

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Startup Hoyas Participate in GEW, Collaborate at Global Consortium

As local communities and policymakers have recognized the importance of entrepreneurship to economic growth and stability, as well as a driver of innovation, it has become increasingly necessary to talk about educating the next entrepreneurial generation.

Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown University Entrepreneurship Initiative, Startup Hoyas, discussed howGlobal Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) are important programs to support future entrepreneurs.

The GCEC is a global conference for university entrepreneurship educators and administrators, focused on brainstorming innovative new techniques, strategies and curriculum for teaching entrepreneurship, as well as how to build strong, local startup communities for students and alumni.

Reid has attended the GCEC since its inception in1999, when it was NCEC and there were about 30 entrepreneurship centers participating – and has now grown to include more than 150 centers around the world. Georgetown hosted the GCEC in 2012.  

Q:  Please describe your university’s signature or featured GEW event each year (i.e. a GEW kick-off party, celebrity keynote speaker, business plan or idea competition, etc.)

REID:  We hold our annual “Rocket Pitch” event during GEW. This event features around 20 student teams making two-minute pitches to an audience of more than 150 students, faculty, alumni, and other business leaders. We also have a keynote speaker and finish with a reception. It’s a great way to get our entire community together to celebrate entrepreneurship.

We also hold a Venture Capital Investment Competition during GEW each year, providing around 60 of our MBA students a deep-dive into the world of early stage venture investing.

Other events we have held during GEW include:

  • We kicked off GEW in 2011 and 2012 at our annual Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day event – including student rocket pitches – and by ringing the gong (with Carl Schramm in 2011, and with Erin Wiley in 2012)
  • In 2013, I testified to Congress during GEW about the importance policy focused on “startups” and not simply “small businesses.”
  • In 2015, I co-hosted (with GEN President Jonathan Ortmans and U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet) a ministerial roundtable on Global entrepreneurship policy, featuring ambassadors and other senior diplomats from 25 countries.

Q:  What impact does GEW have on entrepreneurship or business students, the campus, and the local community?

REID:  GEW is an excellent way to focus attention on entrepreneurship. GEW gives us a vehicle to connect with audiences that might not otherwise be thinking about entrepreneurship. It provides a rallying point for us to celebrate entrepreneurship, and helps our students recognize that their entrepreneurship peer group reaches far beyond our campus, that they are part of a truly global entrepreneurship community.

Q:  Why is entrepreneurship education important, and how does GEW encourage or create awareness of entrepreneurship education?

REID:  Entrepreneurship is still viewed by many people as a “magical” process undertaken by special, almost superhuman people. Entrepreneurship education dispels the mythology and instills students with a set of skills and mindsets that allow them to view themselves as entrepreneurial and in control of their own future. GEW provides a way for educators to connect their entrepreneurial students with a global community of peers, and to raise the overall profile of entrepreneurship within their academic and business communities.

Q:  What do you hope to gain from attending this year’s GCEC?  

REID:  I look forward to GCEC every year as a place to learn new ideas for programs and curriculum, to keep up-to-date with trends in our field, and to connect with old and new friends. Entrepreneurship education can sometimes be a lonely endeavor with few people at our schools who understand what we do, so being around a group of peers always reinvigorates me. 

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator Announces Fall 2016 Class

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) announced the six women-led companies selected for their Fall 2016 cohort today including three local companies, as well as startups focused on a wide array of subject matter including mental health, music rights and baked goods.

“We are impressed by the applications we received,” said Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MBA, lead managing partner of PWE Startup Accelerator and founder of Advanced ICU Care in a statement. “Our team of experts specializes in polishing pitches, and because of the face-to-face mentoring, we’ve seen participants propel their businesses forward. Multiple companies from our previous cohorts have already experienced rapid business growth and received significant follow-on funding. We look forward to providing the same results for this class of women business leaders.”

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