WEST LIBERTY - Students at West Liberty University and members of the local community interested in starting a business had a unique opportunity to pick the brains of successful entrepreneurs who attended their own university.
Local businessman Leslie "Les" DeFelice, Class of 1976, of DeFeliceCare Inc.; artist and illustrator Jesse Lenz, Class of 2010, who has created art for Time Magazine, Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly; and Hugo Andreini, a senior and co-founder of Too Much Innovation LLC, were part of a panel discussion Wednesday at West Liberty University's main campus, addressing an audience of budding entrepreneurs with questions on how to grow their start-ups.
"This tour speaks directly to students. It couldn't have been a better opportunity for students to hear from young entrepreneurs," DeFelice said. "When I was younger the common knowledge was that you went to work for someone, got good at something and finally started your own company. I say start your business as soon as you can because you have less responsibilities and the less far to fall should you fail. You can start a business with passion and by meeting a demand. Find out what you're good at and make sure that you go out and become educated in the other areas that are not your strengths."
TALKS ABOUT SUCCESSES — Hugo Andreini, right, a senior at West Liberty University and co-owner/president of TMI, speaks on a panel with Robert Nicholson Wednesday at WLU’s main campus during the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, a program that inspires students across the country to start their own businesses. -- Sarah Harmon
The panelists discussed their own experiences in growing and promoting their companies as well as the hardships they had to overcome to create successful businesses.
According to Carrie White, director of WLU's Center of Entrepreneurship, the event attracted 150 people interested in creating a company. She said the event is helping not only WLU students, but also members of the community who may start businesses locally.
"I thought we needed to attract attention to entrepreneurship so not only the university, but the local community, knew we are offering it here and that we are encouraging students to think about starting their own businesses," White said. "We also wanted to establish a community outreach so we could let people know that we are a resource for people who may be struggling with their businesses. With the economy the way it is right now, it's a great opportunity for people to start thinking about starting their own business and looking for alternative funding sources."
The panel was part of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour to inspire students to explore ways to create jobs for themselves and pursue their passions while driving the economy. The tour has been to 35 states since 2006 and features top young entrepreneurs who have built or sold successful companies for more than $1 million before the age of 30. The event was sponsored by the Gary E. West College of Business and the Center for Entrepreneurship at WLU.