Introducing the new Director for the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Mark Kent. A Silicon-Valley veteran, he has served as chief financial officer for several technology companies, which were venture funded, publicly traded, or private-equity owned.
A College of Business Alum ’82, Kent has been closely involved with the Institute, serving as board member since its inception and most recently as chairman. Kent has also provided assistance to CSU Ventures and a few of the promising technologies started by CSU faculty.
He was also a co-founder of the Northern Colorado Angels, an angel investing club now merged into Rockies Venture Club.
Kent is currently developing a new vision for the Institute which will align with the COB’s strategic direction. The vision will call for the Institute to become a major hub for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation across the University, and in parallel expanding an external network of alumni and other “friends of CSU.”
A key to success will be to build sufficient critical mass of activities and collaboration among the students, faculty, mentors, investors, corporations, and sponsors.
This past semester, the Venture Accelerator Program was a success. The student venture teams attended weekly workshop sessions that gave students entrepreneurs tactical skills for growing their companies and to help them better define their business model, brand, funding, and legal obligations.
The fall semester was all about search and discovery says Jessica Rawley, the assistant director of the Institute and is the reason why each company was paired with two mentors. The goal is to determine if the students have a viable business idea, proof of concept, and have products or services that can sell. Multiple successful companies have been born out of this program.
Fargreen, a company focused on creating sustainable farming communities in Vietnam, has recently added two new product lines, rice and vegetable production. The founders of Fargreen were in the Venture Accelerator Program in Spring of 2014.
The spring semester is a customized approach to launch and execution. The spring semester does not involve weekly sessions, but there are still resources provided to the student teams along the way – including open seminar type sessions to allow people who want help to connect to specific advisors. The Program will be having a Demo Day for the various student companies.
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Fort Collins’ entrepreneurial community continues to thrive and the city is hosting its annual Start Up Week, February 6-10. To take advantage of the momentum from this event, the Institute for Entrepreneurship will host its Startup Weekend February 10-12. CSU students welcome and encouraged to attend, as are community members. Space will be limited to approximately 50 participants.
The format is intensive and spans the entire weekend. In just 54 hours, participants will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup. Budding entrepreneurs will learn how to create a real company, and meet mentors, investors, co-founders, and sponsors who are ready to help them get started. More details on how students can sign up for Startup Weekend will be published soon.