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New mentoring resource helps student entrepreneurs

March 22, 2011

For aspiring student entrepreneurs, finding a mentor can be a key factor in getting that new venture off the ground.

Within the growing list of resources for ASU student innovators, the university began a new program early this month to help connect mentors and students.

Mentorship Meetup, a joint effort between ASU Career Services, the ASU Women & Philanthropy group, the ASU President’s Club, the ASU Alumni Association, the W.P. Carey School of Business, Venture Catalyst and the Office of University Initiatives, brings leading Valley entrepreneurship and industry experts to ASU to engage students.

The first of two planned Mentorship Meetup spring events was March 2 and around 30 people attended. The program included a panel of entrepreneurship and business experts, followed by lunch and networking activities.

ASU student Tom Noble who is pursuing his MBA, attended the event to get some advice about his new venture.

“I saw the Mentorship Meetup as a great way to connect with experienced business professionals who could provide advice or guidance for our small startup,” he said. “The event was great…I made several connections with mentors in the room that I’ve already been in contact with and are giving me some great advice on some essential next steps for our business.”

May Busch, an expert in investment banking and a consultant and coach in the area of leadership and performance, served on the panel during the event. She is currently the Executive in Resident within the ASU Office of the President.

Busch described the event as a vital step toward helping the next generation of entrepreneurs succeed.

“Without mentors, we risk wasting time on reinventing the wheel,” Busch said, adding that no one person has the monopoly on good ideas or advice and that events like the Mentorship Meetup allow for a diversity of inputs from a group with varied backgrounds and expertise.

Sidnee Peck, program manager and instructor in the W.P. Carey School of Business, helped establish the new student resource.

“Without this program these students may have never been connected to these experienced individuals,” Peck said. “This simply builds that bridge and allows the students to take initiative from there.”

Peck said she wanted to help create an opportunity for students to have access to successful business leaders.

“I saw many great conversations and connections made (at the event),” Peck said. “These are two groups that should be together, entrepreneurial students and successful business people. This simply creates a space for that to happen.”

Brandon Willey, CEO of Vyllij and a panelist during the Mentorship Meetup, described the event as invaluable.

“Because there is so much that you don’t know, a limitless amount, only so much you can learn from reading a book or speaking with a professor,” Willey said. “To know that someone is there and that someone will respond to your questions, that is huge.”

Willey said the most beneficial experience of the event came during the open networking period where students and business men and women sat down and simply talked, exchanged contact information and made impressions.

Willey commended ASU as starting an incredibly unique and valuable service for students.

The next Mentorship Meetup will be hosted on World Entrepreneurship Day, Friday, April 15. More information can be found online.

Written by Kyle Patton, writer, Office of University Initiatives