The Westside Campus Center Ballroom was simmering with creative collisions and lucrative networking opportunities at the Entrepreneurship Center’s kick-off event on Tuesday. Guests enjoyed Pepe’s pizza and salad, along with a chance to win a smart TV, iApple watch and dinner with the university’s president.
The event was sponsored by the SGA, and touted a charismatic lineup of speakers including University President Dr. John Clark, SGA President Alexa Hinds, Dr. Pauline Assenza, Nelson Merchan, Dawn Reschen-Doty and Mike Kaltschnee.
Assenza is an Associate Professor of Management at Western and the ring leader of the Entrepreneurial Club. The intent of the event was to generate overall interest and enthusiasm, and identify potential student leaders willing to participate in the club.
According to Assenza, the purpose of the club is to encourage students, faculty and staff to come out and indicate support for innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and the relevant research to energize all the above.
“I think we need representation from all relevant stakeholders: students, faculty, staff, alumni, plus the Danbury community,” said Assenza, “The idea is that innovation and entrepreneurship happens everywhere.”
Merchan is a Business Advisor for the CT Small Business Development Center which is hosted by the University of Connecticut. The center assists clients with obtaining loans, free market research, business or marketing plans, export assistance, financial benchmarking, ideas to improve websites, social media presence and more.
“Students who are considering starting or growing a business can sign up to ‘request business advising’ at www.GrowCT.com,” said Merchan, ” Our clients love the fact that our services are free, confidential and we offer value to them.”
Reschen-Doty is president of Benay Enterprises, and manages a book publishing business called For Beginners. Both companies regularly hire interns, helping students learn basic office skills and preparing them for administrative jobs. Reschen-Doty also mentors students who have entrepreneurial tendencies.
“I’m grateful and excited to have the chance to share my passion for business and to be a cheerleader for those just beginning to delve into their own entrepreneurial dreams,” said Reschen-Doty.
“It’s imperative that the greater Danbury community, especially the business community, support and provide mentorship to those just beginning to explore their personal potential,” she added.
Kaltschnee is a co-founder of Danbury Hackerspace located in the Innovation Center connected to Danbury Library.
The founders of Hackerspace are both Western Alumni. The company was founded to give back to the community, and student involvement is revered as a crucial component for success. Students are offered a discounted membership of $25 per month for 24/7 access. Members must be 18 or older.
“Hackerspace is a crazy mashup of artists, craftsmen, technicians, engineers, web developers, toy designers, musicians and entrepreneurs,” said Kaltschnee, “When you bring all these people in the same room, amazing things happen… It’s a crazy set of different disciplines that all mesh together really well.”
The event featured Ardonyx Day and Lenny Ayala; two of the three co-founders of UpDesign Media, which is a one-stop-shop for businesses that need help with creative design, programming, web development and marketing strategies. The company is based out of Hackerspace, thus providing an abundance of networking opportunities, jobs and internships, and support with developing business models in any field of interest.
According to Day, the team seeks to hire students to provide experience with showcasing portfolios, particularly graphic designers and web developers.
To follow up on this event, and keep the momentum going, there will be a “meet up” on Tuesday afternoon Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in Westside Campus Center room 320. For further information on the club, contact SGA President Alexa Hinds at SGApres@wcsu.edu or Dr. Pauline Assenza at email@example.com.