One of many problems students face after graduation is finding a job.What if there were a way you could start building a business while you’re still in school, creating a job that could begin before you even graduate? The Portland State Entrepreneurship Club is achieving just that.
One of many problems students face after graduation is finding a job.
What if there were a way you could start building a business while you’re still in school, creating a job that could begin before you even graduate?
The Portland State Entrepreneurship Club is achieving just that.
“You do go to school to get a job, everyone thinks that,” member Ryan Jenson said. “But you can also go to school to create a job.”
The PSU E-Club, as members call it, launched in spring of last year. The club focuses on creating a supportive network for students to generate business ideas, and offering advice for those who don’t know where to start or how to grow their business.
PSU E-Club President Nick Simms wants to change the way students look at entrepreneurship.
“We try to spread entrepreneurship in all aspects of the university,” Simms said. “We want to get the average student to think outside the box—instead of the complacency of ‘we’re going to school to get a job,’ we want students to create their own path.”
Simms and other officers want to create a new entrepreneurship culture in the long run.
“We’re not all about finding students that want to start businesses,” Simms said. “We’re trying to really educate a lot of these students as well, letting them know there’s more out there than what they’re doing.”
PSU is an ideal hub for entrepreneurship, with the community in Portland growing at a rapid pace, Jenson said: “The entrepreneurship community is exploding here.”
Jenson said the E-Club has members from all sorts of backgrounds, from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science to business marketing, web development, English and more.
No matter what you’re studying, the club has advice to give and resources to offer, its members said.
“We’re able to iterate quickly too, because we have so many perspectives,” Jenson said. “We want to provide [students] with something, so they can take that and grow in their business [or] community.”
Students aren’t limited in the type of organization or company they start.
“It’s not just straight-up business. There’s the nonprofit, there’s the social impact, there’s all that stuff,” Jenson said.
The E-Club has already helped produce two innovative corporations that will be competing at Angel Oregon 2013, an annual investor conference put on by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. The conference will be held on April 17 at the Governor Hotel.
The competition is made up of two tiers, composed of a launch stage and a concept stage. The launch-stage companies compete for investments pooled by a group of investors.
“The prize is usually around $300,000,” Jenson said.
The companies competing in the concept stage mainly compete for exposure at the conference. The companies don’t exactly have revenue, but they have an idea. They also may have access to some funding if investors agree to contribute.
Jenson and another E-Club member, Heber Miguel, will be competing as finalists in the concept stage with their corporations.
“The big thing is exposure to investors,” Miguel said. “At the conference, there are 300 to 500 investors, media, entrepreneurs and businesspeople, so there’s a lot of exposure.”
The competition is made up of various businesses from all over the Northwest.
“There were about 25 teams to start out with for the concept stage, and now it’s down to five or six,” Miguel said.
Miguel’s corporation, Green Innovations Inc., takes waste oils and recycles them into clean diesel fuel. They’ve also begun taking plastics and tires to recycle as well.
“The processor that they’ve created—you put the waste through and it comes out the other end,” Simms said. “They plan to revolutionize the fuel industry.”
The company started about a year and a half ago with a towing company that had seven trucks operating at the same time.
“The increase of fuel really decreased our profit margins,” Miguel said. “We were looking for other alternatives and my partner—he’s an engineer—developed this system [that] cut our fuel expense by 63 percent, which is huge savings.”
Miguel also noted that their fuel is being sold for $1.99 per gallon.
Right now, Green Innovations is looking to pair up with a Fortune 500 company in Portland.
“We’ve been sitting down and having meetings with them,” he said. “Hopefully we can get that done before the competition.”
Jenson is also competing in Angel Oregon 2013 with his corporation, HoneyComb, that focuses on precision agriculture. The corporation is made up of three people, with Jenson as CEO.
“Precision agriculture is kind of like: You image the field, and then you are able to tell crop health and allocate resources precisely rather than wasting them,” Jenson said. “So you save water, use less pesticide and use less fertilizer.”
HoneyComb does all of this by using unmanned aircraft (aka drones).
Jenson explains that the big opportunity is its civilian use.
“Most of it’s been military,” Jenson said. “But the civilian use is projected to be about $90 billion over the next 10 years.”
Oregon State University is trying to develop a similar program, and there’s an additional proposal for a test site in Eastern Oregon.
“We’re basically taking that technology, combining it with some other technology and agriculture and revolutionizing what’s called remote sensing and precision agriculture,” Jenson said.
Simms notes that Angel Oregon 2013 is the OEN’s biggest event of the year and that the PSU E-Club can help students build startups of
The PSU E-Club meets every Thursday from 4–5:30 p.m. in the Fourth Avenue Building, room 155.
They also hold a monthly event called Faces of Success, a speaker series where a different successful Portland entrepreneur shares his story each month.
To find out more about the PSU E-Club visit facebook.com/pdx.eclub or psueclub.org.