Entrepreneurs visit campus to share their perspectives

Jessica GuerrucciReporter

Students who dream of one day starting their own business had the chance to hear three different perspectives on what might help them be successful in the future.

The computer science department held their first Entrepreneur Night on Thursday, April 4 in Engleman Hall. Lisa Lancour, chair of the computer science department, invited Kevin Hart, the founder and president of Green Check Verified, Shannon Daniels, founder and CEO of Encaptiv and Chaz Tanase, co-founder and CEO of GoNation, to come speak to students.

“I’ve been doing a lot of outreach, and a lot of companies want to come and talk to students,” said Lancour. “So, there’s these three entrepreneurs who, they want to support students, and not just in computer science, but in all departments or majors, including everything from marketing, finance, the School of Business, all of those different disciplines.”

Instead of having the three different entrepreneurs separately pitch their companies, Lancour set them up as a panel and allowed students to ask questions. She also used Daniels’ presentation platform, Encaptive, to engage the audience.

“We didn’t want to make it like an infomercial for each person’s company, but really talk more about entrepreneurial life. Like what kind of skills you need to succeed, what steps you’d go through, what advice you have and coming at it from different perspectives,” said Lancour.

Alex Edwards, a computer science major, said he liked the way the panel was set up because each person offered a different perspective and was knowledgeable in different areas.

“To me it was like all three of them gave the right perspective that you want to do a startup if you wanted to,” said Edwards. “So, you didn’t just have like, one perspective dominating the whole conversation. They all actually balanced each other out and give a good coordinated response.”

Hart’s company, Green Check Verified, is working to solve the issue of banking for cannabis-related businesses. He said the advice he had for students was to stay in school and never give up.

“When you hear ‘No,’ take that as an opportunity to learn a lesson and figure out what you need to do differently so you can move past that,” said Hart. “You’re going to hear ‘No’ 99 out of 100 times. Don’t be discouraged by it, be impowered by it.”

While there’s no one way to become a successful entrepreneur, Tanase, the co-founder of GoNation, a mobile based app that allows users to easily find events going on in their location, gave different advice.

“Start small and solve one problem, that’s it,” said Tanase. “Don’t try to solve multiple problems, keep your product extremely simple, and really streamline that solution rather than trying to come up with more solutions.”

With any startup there are challenges, and Tanase those were finding the right team at first, as well as competition, because other companies have bigger budgets. He said it’s also much more difficult to do a startup in Connecticut than it would be in New York City.

Dylan Gosselin, a computer science major, said he does not want to start his own business, but it’s still good to hear perspectives from people who have been through the process and have an idea of what works and what does not.

“I wouldn’t have come down if I didn’t think I would’ve taken away anything,” said Gosselin. “So, if I come down, I think I’m going to get something out of it, and I definitely did.”

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