Young entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship, the importance of social media and advice for other students Monday night at a Must See Mondays event at the Walter Cronkite School.
The panel for “Creating the Future: The New News Entrepreneurs” was comprised of ASU graduate Melissa Brennan and current students David Van En and Peyton Gallovich, who have all founded startups through the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus.
Retha Hill, director of the lab, moderated the discussion after an introduction about the basics of startup success, which included advice to start small and aim for incremental success rather than expecting a business to immediately blow up.
Gallovich, the co-founder and CEO of The Deaf and Hearing Network, discussed the obstacles she faced when first starting.
“Confidence was my biggest struggle,” she said. “If you’re not good at something, reach out… Stop telling yourself everything that you can’t do, and start telling yourself everything you need and then you’ll get it.”
Gallovich said she hopes to put DHN on widespread television channels to change the way that the deaf and hearing communities work together by creating content that’s both accessible and interesting to all.
Van En, founder of a venture called PACE — which provides survival training for journalists working in dangerous areas around the globe — has different goals for his startup.
“Put myself out of business,” he said of his objective. “I want the stuff that we do not to be needed anymore. If we can get people smart enough and capable enough and effective enough to mitigate a lot of the risks they deal with, that they can avoid some really bad stuff.”
Van En also reminded students of the importance of tenacity and hard work, his two main factors for success.
Brennan, founder and CEO of Sravel, a company that aims to make travel easier and more accessible for students, discussed her unique situation of being the only one on her team and emphasized the importance of making use of available resources.
“Take small steps,” she advised. “It’s really just about finding the right people, finding mentors, and really wanting to do it. If you’re in a facility like Cronkite, there’s really no reason you can’t.”
According to Hill, who has worked with the lab since 2007, the entrepreneurs were happy to come share their stories of success with the Cronkite community and fellow students.
“They want to show other students that it’s possible,” she said. “Yes, you have to work hard. Yes, you have to put in a lot of hours. Yes, you have to perhaps sacrifice some things. But you can actually create a business as a student or as a recent graduate that can get some traction out there in the marketplace.”
Hill also emphasized the fact that the panelists’ startups are relatively new, ranging from approximately fifteen months old to less than a year, yet they have still gained success and made an impact. Gallovich’s DHN went from achieving 500 views a month to 10,000, Brennan’s company recently signed with a Silicon Valley venture firm, and Van En is talking with professors at ASU about implementing classes about security for journalists.
“I really wanted to dispel the whole notion that you have to make a million dollars or you have to be some [Mark] Zuckerberg clone in order to be successful,” Hill said. “I count these young people as successful for companies that are less than 15, 16 months old. They’re making money, they’re doing what they love, they’re working their vision.”
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