Tech, Business Leaders Inspire Young Entrepreneurs

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The March meeting of the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization on St. Petersburg College Seminole campus featured information about the club’s 5th annual business plan and elevator pitch contest, a talk by Innovation Lab manager Chad Mairn on makerspaces as a breeding ground for creativity, and Kurt Forster of the Small Business Development Center told students about the key elements of success in business.

This year’s business plan contest offers more than $10,000 in prizes! Finalists will be announced on April 10th, and the competition takes place on April 30th. Learn more about the contest on the official website.¬†

Chad Mairn was the first guest speaker at the podium to discuss why the campus Innovation Lab is a hub of creativity and an incubator for small business. The lab launched in June of last year, funded by a grant from St. Petersburg College Foundation. Mairn detailed the many projects and workshops held by the lab since, including the college’s first Hour of Code last year, hosting an animation lecture and workshop by Echo Bridge Pictures’s Esteban Valdez, and a hosting a drone workshop by Donny Klotz. He also talked about future projects, including an upcoming game development workshop in cooperation with SPC Seminole Gamers, and a maker summer camp. Mairn also hopes to host a showing of The Wrecking Crew, a film¬†about the session musicians that made 60s rockers like The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean great, with a question and answer session with director Denny Tedsco. After his talk, students took a tour of the lab in LI 201.

On the tour students saw several of the lab’s many robotics kits, Raspberry Pi computers, Arduinos and much more. Chad Mairn also played them a short tune on the Korg Little Bits kit, which you can see in the video below. The Innovation Lab is open to all SPC students and library patrons, and is currently accepting volunteers. Learn more about the lab on Tumblr, Twitter, and on the Innovation Lab blog.

After the tour, Kurt Forster took the podium to let students know about the resources available at the Small Business Development Center at EpiCenter in Largo, and the Greenhouse in Downtown St. Petersburg. Would be entrepreneurs and those who have already opened their doors can benefit from free consulting and low cost workshops at SBDC.

Forster told students that it is not enough to hang up a shingle along U.S. 19 or set up a website. Today’s entrepreneurs need a vision of why they want to provide a given product or service, how they will grow their business, who their customers are, and where they will fit into the larger industry. Forster used detailed examples based on his years of experience as a business consultant and at the conclusion of his talk took questions from the audience. See the highlight reel of his talk in the video below.

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