By: Lexie Newhouse
The Georgia University Entrepreneurship Initiative (GUEI) hosted their seventh semiannual meeting to convene and connect the state’s top entrepreneurship educators and students. Paul Lopez, former president of TiE Atlanta, extended a warm welcome to the audience consisting of 85 percent entrepreneurship educators and 15 percent students.
Following the networking breakfast, Brad Schweizer of ATDC moderated the discussion on “How Students Can Fund Their Startups” with JP James of TiE Atlanta Angels and Hive Systems, Charlton Cunningham of Vertical404 and Shahana Mentonelli of Birth.
“Funding is really hard unless it’s really easy,” said James.
All the panelists agreed that students need to be creative in finding ways to raise funding, structure capital and negotiate deals. Whereas students with high-growth companies in industries like healthcare and fintech should consider pursuing venture capital opportunities, they recommended that students with services companies are typically better off finding alternative sources of funding.
Mentonelli highly encouraged that students be “comfortable with telling your story.” Whether students are pitching for grants, funding or capital, being able to effectively communicate the company’s value is oftentimes the key differentiating factor.
When asked about what gaps continue to persist in Atlanta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Cunningham explained that “Everyone would benefit from talking to each other.” Initiatives like GEUI are continuing to facilitate those conversations between Georgia universities to address those gaps.
Moderated by Bonita Seaborn-Moore, Business Manager of Entrepreneurship at Morehouse College, the student-entrepreneur panel focused on “Student Startup Funding & Challenges.” The following universities were represented by:
- Emory University: Dr. Michael Jiang of Nerv LLC
- Georgia State University: Robert Hatcher of SoundCollide
- Georgia Institute of Technology: Kolby Hanley of UltraView Archery
- Morehouse College: Nicolas Steed of HustleApp
- University of Georgia: Trent Wall of Cosmic Delivery
Following the panel discussions, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at UGA Don Chambers led a design thinking workshop to brainstorm potential solutions to the challenges of attracting and engaging alumni more effectively within the context of entrepreneurship.
For future discussions on building entrepreneurship across campuses, visit eni.gsu.edu