Last night, DifferenceMaker kicked off its Entrepreneurial Speaker Series. The topic for discussion was Tech Start-ups. Steven Tello, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development and founder of the DifferenceMaker Program introduced the event. Following his introduction, Steven Geyster, Vice President of ESTECH,and Daniel Sullivan, Faculty of College of Engineering, spoke about the challenges and lessons of being involved in tech start ups.
Above is a photo of the speakers, Steven Geyster (left) and Professor Daniel Sullivan (right).
Geyster said that there are four “keys to success” for starting a new business, as listed below.
1) Protect Your Work: In order to make sure that you aren’t building a business based on something that is already invented, and to make sure that no one can copy your work, you need to research patents and find a way to protect your invention/s. Entrepreneurs can protect their work and intellectual property through Trademark Protection, Patent Protection, and/or Trade Secrets.
2) Build a Team & Network: Building a team and network is crucial. Geyster credits much of success to networking at events and in his daily life. Also, a crucial part of building a team, Geyster emphasized, is seeking help from a financial advisor that has experience and has some “skin in the game”.
3) Plan & Plan Some More: Geyster says that as a rule of thumb, everything takes twice as long as you expect, and costs three times more than you initially estimated. He also says that if you want to meet your goals and expectations, you need to have a plan to direct you. Finally, he suggests that entrepreneurs learn practical skills such as accounting, project management, and quality management to help them reach their goals.
4) Have a Customer Focus: You may have a good idea, but do you know who will pay money for it? Geyster emphasized that getting feedback from as many people as possible is important to improving your product before officially putting it on the market. He also mentioned that ease of use is vital. It doesn’t matter how great your product is; if customers cannot use it easily, they won’t continue to use or purchase it.
Professor Daniel Sullivan concluded the evening by saying that it takes more than just a good product to succeed as an entrepreneur. He told the audience that you need everything from a set of morals and beliefs for your company, to brand development and knowledge of your market.
Above is a photo of engineering students who attended the event.