Student startup programs expand at ASU

September 6, 2013

Arizona State University has announced that it will expand its support for student startup companies with the launch of the Great Little Companies (GLC) Network. The campus-based program, which will be managed by ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, will support up to 30 student startups each year that apply for, but are not accepted into the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative – ASU’s student startup accelerator, which supports the top 20 student startups each year. Each startup invited to participate in the network will receive $3,000 in grant funding, as well as direct mentoring through the Changemaker Central locations on each of ASU’s four campuses.

“The ASU Edson program has enabled considerable student entrepreneurship success over recent years and the launch of the GLC Network will significantly enhance our ability to support additional student startups across ASU,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “The widespread teaching of entrepreneurship, along with initiatives such as our Changemaker Central locations and ideation competitions like Innovation Challenge, have created a rich ecosystem for entrepreneurship to thrive within all corners of ASU.” Download Full Image

The objective of the Great Little Companies Network is to expand support to student startups beyond those in the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative. The network provides a year’s worth of startup support services with the intent that at the end of that year, the participating companies will pursue funding from other ASU startup programs or launch into the Arizona startup ecosystem.

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative began eight years ago with the goal of supporting students who were pursuing entrepreneurship while completing their degrees. Made possible by an investment from the J. Orin Edson Foundation to the ASU Foundation for A New American University, the Edson program has provided approximately $1.4 million in seed-funding grants, as well as office space and mentorship to nearly 150 unique student ventures over the past eight years. This training and support has made it possible for more than 104 of these ventures to obtain an additional $3 million in external funding and in-kind services.

“Previously, the Edson program was only able to support approximately 20 startups each year,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. “However, among our nearly 400 applicants each year, there are around 50 startups that demonstrate high potential for success. The GLC Network provides a way to offer those additional 30 startups the support they need to continue to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors. The creation of the GLC will help ASU ensure that every student entrepreneur has a great experience launching a venture.”

The types of ventures supported by the Great Little Companies Network include traditional, for-profit companies, as well as more-than-profit organizations and social enterprises. The support available from the network includes:

• use of the collaboration spaces within ASU ChangeMaker Central locations

• training programs such as ASU’s “pracademic” (taught by practitioners) Rapid Startup School, as well as academic programs such as Semester to Launch and Make

• access to EIG’s network of more than 300 mentors

• funding for company setup costs, including legal fees, website development and branding

In addition to launching the Great Little Companies Network, ASU has increased the financial resources available to student startups in the Edson accelerator. Each Edson startup will have access to funds that can be used for patent, trademark and copyright costs, as well as to cover the costs of travel for customer development and competition purposes.

“ASU has done a remarkable job providing financial and mentor-led support to its elite student startups,” McConnell said. “The creation of the GLC Network will empower the university to increase its support to student startups at all stages of the entrepreneurship continuum. Whether they are just formalizing an idea into a company or are ready to ship, the GLC Network will provide a way for more student startups to find success.”

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, formerly known as ASU Venture Catalyst, is a joint initiative between the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the ASU Foundation for A New American University that supports the creation of faculty spinout companies at ASU.

Physics, criminal law, Judaism: Freshman ready to spread wings at ASU

September 6, 2013

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Jonathan Wasserman is an Arizona State University freshman majoring in physics. He plays drums in his spare time, studied Jewish religious texts this past summer and would like to become a criminal defense attorney one day. Download Full Image

And he craves more.

“These are the fields that I’ve had the opportunity to pursue, but I wish to explore more topics,” he says. “Digging deep into any given subject matter appeals to me. Thinking makes me tick.”

Wasserman, a Scottsdale native, is the youngest member of his family to call himself a proud Sun Devil. His older sister Hannah, a 2012 graduate, pursued a double major in economics and mathematics, and a minor in philosophy. She is now serving in the Israeli army. Gabriel Wasserman is currently a senior majoring in mathematics and a triathlete. All three are Barrett Honors College students.

His siblings are also the reason why – despite getting accepted into George Washington University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, College of William and Mary and Occidental College – Wasserman chose to attend Barrett.

“My sister and brother always told me about the great opportunities available here at a lower cost, so attending ASU was an easy decision,” he notes with a smile. “But hearing them talk about being a Barrett honors student and now being here in the same shoes is interesting and, at the same time, exciting.”

However, Wasserman need not worry about following in the footsteps of his talented siblings. He is building his own path to success. The first step is studying physics.

“Physics is everywhere around us,” he says. “It helps you understand the world and the way things work. Take, for example, projectile motion. With the help of an equation, you can calculate the exact landing position of a projectile after being thrown. To me, that helps explain an important process we barely notice.”

According to Wasserman, two of the most influential people in his life are his parents, who are both rabbis by profession. Growing up, during sermons his father would dissect Jewish traditional text and examine it from a modern perspective. The process inspired his youngest child to approach concepts and ideas in a similar manner.

“Judaism is an integral part of my upbringing and I felt it was time to gain my own knowledge, develop my own understanding and learn more about motivation for my beliefs,” he says.

This yearning for understanding fundamentals and fresh takes on deeply entrenched ideas and beliefs is why he spent this past summer studying traditional Jewish texts at Yeshivat Hadar, an educational institution that focuses on Jewish learning in New York City.

Keeping in line with his proclivity toward finding new meanings in established ideas and texts, Wasserman hopes to become a criminal defense attorney.

“People usually think of dramatic movies and television shows when the term criminal defense attorney is mentioned but that is not really accurate,” Wasserman chuckles. “When I was in high school, I spent a year interning at a firm that specialized in criminal cases and realized that there’s a lot of work that goes into a hearing or a trial, which is not so evident on TV.”

For now, though, college is the best place for him to be.

“A level of thinking comes with being in college, being committed to coursework and being in close proximity to people who have the same motivations and wish to have intellectual conversations,” Wasserman says. “I look forward to my time here at Barrett and ASU.”

Iti Agnihotri

Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Learning Enterprise