“LaunchNevada is a great way to help students from different colleges in our University develop their entrepreneurship skills,” Mehmet Tosun, director of the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship, said. “We wanted to provide more to students so that they can better prepare for the annual Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition while receiving financial help to develop their business ideas.”
The new initiative consists of both networking events and Student Startup Awards.
The networking events provide students with opportunities to hear about the entrepreneurial journeys of founders directly connected to the University, and to meet with other like-minded individuals, learn how to move their innovative business ideas forward, and for some students, prepare for the annual Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition.
The first LaunchNevada networking event took place Sept. 18, held both virtually and in-person. The event featured guest speakers Sean Nichols and Denis Phares, College of Business Online Executive MBA alumni and co-founders of Dragonfly Energy, a northern Nevada producer of deep-cycle lithium batteries. The second event on Oct. 11 featured Thomas Powell, a leading financier and founder of Resolute Capital Partners LTD, and the third event on Nov. 13 featured Matt Levitt, a College of Business MBA alum and founder and CEO of Tahoe Spirits, Inc., whose featured product is Tahoe Blue Vodka.
“The goal of LaunchNevada is to foster entrepreneurial mindsets among graduate and undergraduate students by focusing on developing three C’s: curiosity, connections, and created value,” Armina Karapetian, director of LaunchNevada and lecturer of marketing, said. “We were extremely fortunate to have such exceptional guest speakers who shared stories of their entrepreneurial journeys with our students and helped them hone their business ideas by providing valuable feedback.”
Through LaunchNevada, students can also apply for Student Startup Awards of up to $500 to help fund their innovative ideas. A faculty panel from across the University reviews applications for the awards.
“Three Student Startup Awards have already been made, with recipients including two students from the College of Liberal Arts and one to a student from the College of Engineering,” Dick Bartholet, director of the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, said.
The Launch Nevada Initiative was made possible by the generous support of Inc. Authority and Resolute Capital Partners, whom funded the pilot program for the three networking events and Student Startup Awards. Their support also provided funds for operational expenses associated with the events and financial incentives for student business proposals.