Entrepreneurs advises students

Students and community members alike gathered in Rotunda A to listen to more than a dozen speakers at the Entrepreneurship: Information and Inspiration seminar on April 21, 2015.

Panels of distinguished college alumni, community resource representatives and South Dakota State University faculty covered a variety of topics concerning entrepreneurship. Will Aylor, assistant vice president of technology transfer and commercialization, also talked to students about the SDSU policies and opportunities that allow students to make the most of their undergraduate and graduate experience.

During the student panel, each speaker recounted about his or her experience with higher education and how they got to be where they were now.

Seth Koch, co-owner of Wooden Legs Brewing Co. was one of four speakers on the student panel who gave advice to the audience. He talked about how having an idea doesn’t make you an entrepreneur.

“To be an entrepreneur, you need salt, grunt and a brazen disrespect for the word ‘no’,” Koch said.

Renee Halgerson, co-owner of Hitch Design Studio, touched on a few other points. Specifically, she emphasized how important a good mentor is for a potential entrepreneur.“I think mentors are kind of a natural fit,” Halgerson said. “Ask a good resource if they know someone who would be a great mentor for you.”

During the Community Leaders in Entrepreneur Activities panel, speakers like Beth Knutson of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation introduced audience members to the resources available in Brookings.

“We provide entrepreneurs with the resources, education and connections you need to start and grow a business, no matter what stage you are in,” Knutson said.

Knutson made sure that a list of upcoming entrepreneurial events was given to each of the seminar attendees. These events are free and allow people to develop a support system in the Brookings community.

Tim Weelborg, the executive director of Enterprise Institute, talked about the South Dakota Small Business Development Centers in places like Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City.

“SBDC consultants guide and train clients to the areas of assistance required, rather than doing the work for them,”  Weelborg said.

The final panel was composed of SDSU faculty members. Each shared his or her experience with entrepreneurship in the university.

Craig Silvernagel, an assistant economics professor, advised students who want to pursue entrepreneurship.

“Why not now? … This is the time to do it. Get into the habit … and be open minded,” Silvernagel said.

Speaker and visual arts assistant professor Mariam Melkumyan agrees with Silvernagel. “Keep your eyes open,” Melkumyan said. “Don’t get married to [your] idea. Let it develop.”

The seminar concluded with a mingling opportunity in which students were allowed to connect with the night’s speakers.

Dani Moravec, a senior entrepreneurial studies major, was one of the students who utilized the seminar.

“You take away something different from every single speaker,” Moravec said.

Halgerson also said that she also got a lot out of this seminar.

“I hope they do this conference again,” Halgerson said. “They had a wide range of speakers. I hope it grows.”