2015 VTKW Sponsor Showcase: Rackspace

2015 VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsor Showcase: RackspacePictured: Katherine Reed, Dan Shain, Kirk AveRrett, David McGrath, Deanna Murphy

Rackspace: The #1 managed cloud company

Rackspace is the #1 managed cloud company because we have what other commodity cloud companies can only dream of—Fanatical Support®. It starts with each of our over 6,000 employees worldwide bringing their passion and technology expertise with them every day. Doing whatever it takes to push our customer workloads to perform faster and scale larger all with superior security.

Thank you, Rackspace, for sponsoring VT KnowledgeWorks including the 2015 Global Partnership Week!

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week offers university students and faculty from all over the world a chance to collaborate, form partnerships, build their global networks, and congregate in Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia, USA. The Global Partnership is an ongoing cooperative association of regions building permanent social and academic relationships with each other, for mutual long-term advantage. Members of the partnership gather annually during a week-long Global Partnership event hosted by VT KnowledgeWorks, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech, and citizens and businesses of the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

2014 Winners: The grand prize went to Team feelSpace of the University of Trento. Read more about the winning teams! Watch the 2014 Global Partnership Week video and read about the event publicity.

For more information about getting involved in the Global Partnership Week, please contact Lindsey Eversole, Outreach Manager, leversole@vtknowledgeworks.com.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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2015 VTKW Sponsor Showcase: VPT

VPT, Inc. is a global leader in power products to aerospace, military, and space applications. VPT offers high reliability DC-DC power converters for use in a wide range of programs such as GPS Satellites, Boeing commercial aircraft, Predator UAVs, and SpaceX rockets. VPT products are sold internationally to over 35 countries and have flown to the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Pluto, and the International Space Station. Headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, VPT employs over 200 people in facilities that also include Seattle, Boston, and Taiwan. Pictured below is VPT’s annual picnic on the New River attended by employees and family from all these locations.

2015 VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsor Showcase: VPT

Thank you, VPT, for sponsoring VT KnowledgeWorks including the 2015 Global Partnership Week!

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week offers university students and faculty from all over the world a chance to collaborate, form partnerships, build their global networks, and congregate in Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia, USA. The Global Partnership is an ongoing cooperative association of regions building permanent social and academic relationships with each other, for mutual long-term advantage. Members of the partnership gather annually during a week-long Global Partnership event hosted by VT KnowledgeWorks, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech, and citizens and businesses of the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

2014 Winners: The grand prize went to Team feelSpace of the University of Trento. Read more about the winning teams! Watch the 2014 Global Partnership Week video and read about the event publicity.

For more information about getting involved in the Global Partnership Week, please contact Lindsey Eversole, Outreach Manager, leversole@vtknowledgeworks.com.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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VTKW Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge Featured on Fox 21/27

VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge was highlighted Thursday morning on the Fox 21/27 Morning News. Watch the video to find out more about the Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge and our generous new sponsor, Plastics One Inc., who made it possible for VT KnowledgeWorks to expand the event prizes.

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge celebrates the energy and creativity of university students and their important contributions to the global economy, and encourages them to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. This weeklong celebration provides a unique opportunity for students to initiate their personal global networks through learning, socialization, and friendly competition. Elite student teams will compete for a $25,000 grand prize, as they pitch their business ideas before a live audience and judging panel.

The Global Partnership Week and Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge is made possible thanks to the generous support of VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors:

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, PC, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

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2015 VTKW Sponsor Showcase: National Bank

National Bank photo
National Bank’s Hubbard Street Office in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Discover modern banking with a local touch! Founded in Blacksburg in 1891, National Bank is committed to serving Southwest Virginia with today’s most convenient banking products backed up by friendly, personalized service. Stay in control of your finances with our free Mobile Banking App, Internet Banking service and TeleBanc account access. Or visit any of our 25 convenient offices located throughout the region. Whether you’re doing your banking from across the globe or right next door, you can count on us for personal attention, local decision making and a proven track record of financial strength and stability.

National Bank is a subsidiary of National Bankshares, Inc., a Blacksburg-based financial holding company with $1.1 billion in assets. To learn more about National Bank, visit our website at www.nbbank.com.

Thank you, National Bank, for sponsoring VT KnowledgeWorks including the 2015 Global Partnership Week!

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week offers university students and faculty from all over the world a chance to collaborate, form partnerships, build their global networks, and congregate in Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia, USA. The Global Partnership is an ongoing cooperative association of regions building permanent social and academic relationships with each other, for mutual long-term advantage. Members of the partnership gather annually during a week-long Global Partnership event hosted by VT KnowledgeWorks, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech, and citizens and businesses of the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

2014 Winners: The grand prize went to Team feelSpace of the University of Trento. Read more about the winning teams!  Watch the 2014 Global Partnership Week video and read about the event publicity.

For more information about getting involved in the Global Partnership Week, please contact Lindsey Eversole, Outreach Manager, leversole@vtknowledgeworks.com.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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OOHLALA Makes Top 30 Under 30 in Education for Forbes Magazine

OOHLALA has been selected for Top 30 Under 30 in Education for Forbes Magazine this year.

OOHLALA Top 30 Under 30 in Education ForbesNinety percent of college students use smartphones, mostly for games, music and social networking. So why not as a better connection to their campus? OOHLALA is a mobile community used by over 1 million higher ed students and 100 colleges in five countries that enables students to interface with their campuses with features like class alerts, messaging and photo wall.

Peter Cen and James Dang of team OOHLALA, representing the University of Toronto in Canada, received $5,000 as a runner-up team in the 2011 VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge.  OOHLALA is a mobile community used by over 1 million higher ed students and 100 colleges in five countries that enables students to interface with their campuses with features like class alerts, messaging and photo wall.  OOHLALA has grown to 20 people and has made $1 million in revenue last year.

View the image of team OOHLALA from 2011, or view the 2014 Global Partnership Week video created by Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs.

The Global Partnership Week offers university students and faculty from all over the world a chance to collaborate, form partnerships, and build their global networks. Members of the partnership gather annually during a week-long event hosted by VT KnowledgeWorks, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech, and citizens and businesses of the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

Find out more about how to register for the Global Challenge Virtual Preliminary, The Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals, or the Sixth Annual Global Partnership Week.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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Apply Soon for the 2015 VT KnowledgeWorks Tech Transfer Challenge

VT KnowledgeWorks Tech Transfer Challenge 2015

The VT KnowledgeWorks Tech Transfer Challenge is accepting applications through February 23, 2015.  The Tech Transfer Challenge is designed to accelerate innovative technology transfer from the university to the private sector.

The annual Tech Transfer Challenge prize provides $100,000 worth of mentorship and business support services to a winning team of Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students and/or alumni proposing to establish a new venture in Blacksburg, Virginia, based on Virginia Tech-owned technology.  Services are provided over a two-year period and include assistance in developing the overall business strategy as well as the presentations and plan documents needed for investor discussions and product launch.  The venture receives complimentary membership in VT KnowledgeWorks for two years and key team members attend a Startup Readiness Workshop.  In addition, the venture receives a 50% savings on one-year’s rent at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

A selection committee of successful regional entrepreneurs and investors will review the submissions and select the winner in late March.  In addition, several runner-up applications may be selected for modest business development support.  The winner will be announced at the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals on April 8, 2015, at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

Instructions and guidelines on how to apply are available at http://www.vtknowledgeworks.com/2015/techtransferchallenge.

Previous Tech Transfer Challenge winners and runners up include:

  • VoltMed, employing irreversible electroporation technology for cancer treatment
  • NanoSpin, developing efficient, passive liquid cooling for electronic devices
  • Keraesthetics, developing keratin-based technology for both cosmetic and therapeutic applications
  • P&P Coating, applying its superhydrophobic metallic coating technology to a variety of industries including automotive, chemical, and electronic
  • phenoCHIP, developing circulating tumor cell separation technology

VT KnowledgeWorks wants to thank our generous sponsors of the Tech Transfer Challenge including Virginia Tech College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Virginia Tech Office of the Vice President for Research, Virginia Tech’s Outreach & International Affairs, and Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, PC, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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Global Challenge Semifinals Deadline Extended – Now Free to Enter

The Global Challenge Semifinals are now free to enter!
The deadline has been extended to February 11, 2015.

VTKW Global Challenge Semifinals

VT KnowledgeWorks will host its annual Global Challenge Semifinals at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech student teams will compete for the chance to win one of three scholarship prizes, including:

  • $10,000 Plastics One Advanced Manufacturing Award for the most outstanding tangible product
  • $10,000 VT KnowledgeWorks Information Technology Award for the most outstanding intangible product or service
  • $5,000 grand prize to one of the two teams that receive the Advanced Manufacturing and the Information Technology awards
  • $5,000 People’s Choice Award, sponsored by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business

Student teams are also competing for an opportunity to compete on a world stage in the $25,000 VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge this August.

A generous donor has enabled us to eliminate the entry fee. To enter, student teams should register by completing the Intent to Compete form and submitting a one-page summary by February 11.  Attendee tickets are also free and include access to the Global Challenge Semifinals, networking reception, and awards presentation. Register as a contestant or attendee online at http://www.vtknowledgeworks.com/gcsemifinals/2015/registration.

The competition is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at Virginia Tech. All participants must be full-time, registered students at Virginia Tech with an average team age of 27 years or less to participate and receive prizes if selected as a finalist team. Up to six finalist teams will be selected to present at the Challenge.

Businesses can get details about advertising during this event by contacting Christine Spalding at 540-443-9100 ext. 3 or via email at christine.spalding@vtknowledgeworks.com.

VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge Semifinals Sponsors include Plastics One Inc. and Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business, and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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Announcing the New Global Challenge Virtual Preliminary

VTKW Global Challenge SemifinalsVT KnowledgeWorks presents the inaugural Global Challenge Virtual Preliminary, where university teams from anywhere outside the U.S. have the opportunity to test the strategic essence of their business concept for a chance to compete on a world stage this August at the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge. The Virtual Preliminary celebrates the energy and creativity of university students and their important contributions to the global economy, while encouraging them to develop their entrepreneurial ideas.

Preliminary contestants compete to earn up to $5,000 in air-travel reimbursement to attend the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge Finals, August 16-22, 2015, in Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia, USA. The winning team of the Virtual Preliminary will compete against other student teams from around the world for the $25,000 grand prize and VT KnowledgeWorks trophy. During this week-long celebration of entrepreneurship, students are housed with local families, spend interactive time with successful technology companies, and enjoy fellowship with each other and with Virginia Tech students during festive meals and social gatherings.

For more information on the eligibility requirements, rules, and guidelines for the preliminary go to www.vtkwglobal.com/2015/prelim. The first deadline to apply and submit a one-page summary of your business concept is April 1, 2015.

The Global Challenge Virtual Preliminary is in cooperation with Télécom SudParis, University of Kent, University of Trento, and Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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Sign Up for Startup Chatup at CoffeeWorks Free

Join in informal chats about startup issues and discuss your entrepreneurial aspirations with Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks. Meet with Jim at CoffeeWorks, located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center at 1901 Innovation Drive, Suite 1100.

Startup Chatup @ CoffeeWorks: Register for a time slot on Friday mornings from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at CoffeeWorks in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center at 1901 Innovation Drive, Suite 1100.

FREE!

register

 

For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at jim.flowers@vtknowledgeworks.com.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, CIT GAP Funds, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Rackspace, Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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Entrepreneurship, Employment, and Economic Growth: Some Useful Definitions

This article, composed by Jim Flowers of VT KnowledgeWorks, was originally published on Source Link Virginia.

When considering local or regional initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship, it is important to understand clearly the true objectives. Most of these efforts are really aimed at economic development by way of job creation. They are not aimed simply at encouraging independent behaviors, for example. Occasionally, there is a socio-political undercurrent of encouraging personal self-sufficiency in a general sense. In any case, if the defining point is to increase employment through entrepreneurship initiatives, entrepreneurship itself must be well understood.

The words entrepreneur and entrepreneurship are currently popular, but widely misused, because they are being applied in bulk to several quite different business and personal behaviors. Suppose we define an entrepreneur as “someone who conceives and launches a significant new initiative, and takes personal responsibility for its success or failure.” The initiative could be a whole new business, an extension of an existing business, a Boy Scout project, a garden club, whatever. Since we’re talking about job creation, let’s take a closer look just at the businesses.

First, it’s important to address different points of view. The early-stage investment community, including both angels and venture capitalists, tends to draw a broad distinction between emerging enterprises that appear to have an opportunity to grow quickly toward an eight or nine digit payoff and those that, while potentially worthy, are likely to top out either too small or too late to be of interest to high-risk investors. They often label the second group as life-style businesses. And the labeling is often at least mildly derogatory.

It can be argued, however, that all entrepreneurial businesses are “life-style” businesses in that the entrepreneur’s payoffs are personal. If, at any point, she decides that it is unlikely that those personal payoffs will be realized, she will abandon the venture. The energy and focus required of successful entrepreneurs demands high motivation. If the objectives of that motivation fade into the distance, the energy disappears. This is not speculation; it is observable history.

Public figures with interest in economic growth and development, on the other hand, are typically interested in job creation and retention, rather than high-gain exits. The current common wisdom is that corporately small and young companies are creating the most jobs. That makes it easy to generalize to entrepreneurship as being a major positive force that deserves encouragement and support. In a time when automation, information, and communication advances have vastly increased individual worker productivity, job creation is much less automatic than it was in the 20th century.

Wealth creation, on the other hand, has at least the opportunity to generate jobs steadily over time as that wealth is distributed throughout the economy. So local wealth creation has become another favored target for some. Unfortunately, that also means wealth re-distribution, at least in relative terms. The owners get rich; and that money eventually gets re-invested to create another round of growth. This is the essence of the trickle down arguments.

Let’s presume, for our immediate purposes, that increases in jobs and/or wealth are positive outcomes as regards long-term economic well-being. What does that mean for the design and funding of entrepreneurship encouragement initiatives?

There are, in fact, radically different types of entrepreneurs. Here is a short list. It is not meant to be academically complete, or exhaustive in any sense, but rather to point out the complexity of the entrepreneurial landscape, particularly as it relates to job and wealth creation.

  • Solo-preneurs
  • Network-preneurs
  • Org-preneurs (at least four sub-types)
    • Mainstreet-preneurs
    • Expert-preneurs
    • Busi-preneurs
    • Invento-preneurs
  • Fun-preneurs

The simplest are solo-preneurs operating as professional service providers, launching single person service businesses. The personal life-style payoff for which they strive is just that, personal. And it is at least unfair, and perhaps foolish, to judge them on the basis of some standardized, presumptive payoff that is “good for the economy.” They want to make a living, doing what they choose, unencumbered by direct supervision.

By the way, if these folks bother to set up an LLC to limit their personal liability, or register a Federal Employer Information Number (FEIN), they are counted by the SBA as a new business establishment, just as if they were General Electric. Think what this does to all those statistics regarding business start-ups and failures.

There are also network-preneurs launching multi-person/entity service or product businesses without formally employing others in the traditional sense. Loose associations of subject matter experts who come together to execute large projects are a common example of this behavior. Their selected payoffs are also personal, and, again, not to be judged by some general set of standards. They are related to the busi-preneurs (see below), but more autonomous, unconventional and free-spirited.

There are org-preneurs who elect an enterprise strategy to achieve their personal payoffs – with traditional employees and a fixed place of business. In fact, often, the organization itself is part of the desired payoff. They enjoy leading a team. There appear to be at least four sub-species of this type.

There are copycat, mainstreet-preneurs, who open hair salons, restaurants, and auto repair shops. They usually follow growth in local/regional wealth, rather than creating it. So, in a very real sense, they don’t matter, at least from an increased prosperity standpoint. They don’t bring any new money to town. They just help re-allocate local money. Growth in the numbers or size of such businesses, including the jobs they provide, must, by definition, follow some increase in the local money supply.

There are expert-preneurs who must fund and assemble a team in order to achieve personal satisfaction and recognition in their desired field of expertise, such as the microbiology of pathogens. The financial aspects of these businesses are often personally secondary to the founders, especially in view of the fact that they are often tenured professors with financial stability in place. The businesses themselves tend to remain small, even when they are stable and successful. Growth per se is not a primary objective for them. They do bring new money to town – often as federal grants.

There are busi-preneurs who are somewhat market-neutral, in that their personal payoff is related more to measuring achievement by traditional business metrics than to personal autonomy. They make money for others (investors) in order to make money for themselves, and to receive recognition and approval for having done so. Their personal payoffs are related to the risk capital culture and its social structure. Often they become what investors like to call serial entrepreneurs, cashing out various ventures and moving on to others. They generally bring new money to town by selling to widely dispersed markets and clients; but they can actually be serving locals and sending the profits out of town, like Wal-Mart.

And there are invento-preneurs, who really do come up with better mousetraps and take them to market. Often they partner with busi-preneurs. Venture capitalists like this combination. And with innovative products and venture capital, they can create more jobs, more quickly, than most other types. Their clients are almost always out of town, and their profits come to town, except for the venture capitalists’ share. It’s important to point out, however, that these companies usually are acquired by larger ones. At that point they often disappear into the larger entity, and the new jobs disappear and the founders move to better weather.

And, finally, there are serial, recreational, fun-preneurs, who start low risk ventures (usually internet-related) for fun, and occasionally pop out of the pack, almost by accident, to become fabulously wealthy. They are similar to the people who like to walk the beaches and fields with metal detectors and occasionally find a gold coin or a sale-able meteorite. Or, we might compare them to the people who play slot machines. Any given coin placed in the machine has a low chance of being a winner; but it’s only a small investment. Once in a while, someone wins the jackpot. By the way, have you noticed how the casinos make sure everyone hears about the big winners? And how they do not mention the billions of attempts that go unrewarded? Silicon Valley is like that, too.

Two commonly used terms are incubator and accelerator. A practical distinction is that incubators emerged from the economic development community and accelerators from the investment community. Incubators tend to be place and job oriented. Accelerators tend to be wealth oriented. Incubators are generally established and run by economic development professionals. Accelerators are commonly established and run by cashed out mentor/investors. Incubators strive for employment growth and sustainability. Accelerators strive for speedy return on investment.

Fast-paced startup brainstorming events can certainly create fresh local energy and attention to entrepreneurship in general. To the extent that they actually spawn enterprises, their offspring are more commonly accelerator material than incubator material.

Business plan contests also build local awareness; and they generally deliver more fully-formed, investment-grade enterprise opportunities that have the potential to grow into permanent contributors to a local economy.

So, as regards job creation and increased prosperity, all entrepreneurship is not created equal. With this understanding, localities and regions have the opportunity to direct various growth and development initiatives with more focused effect, if they address, encourage, and support the various types of entrepreneurs separately and appropriately.

Keep in the know about VT KnowledgeWorks through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

VT KnowledgeWorks

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual. Its world headquarters are in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks Sponsors

Automation Creations, Inc., BAE Systems, BB&T, The Branch Group, Inc., Brown, Edwards & Company, LLP, City of Roanoke, Fox 21/27, G.J. Hopkins, Inc., Interactive Achievement, Inc., Meridium, Montgomery County, Virginia Economic Development Department, National Bank, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Phoenix Packaging Operations, Plastics One Inc., Shentel, SunTrust Bank , TechLab, Third Security, Town of Blacksburg, Town of Christiansburg, Union First Market Bank, UXB International, Inc., Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, VPT, Inc, Wordsprint

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