Jamie Sundsbak, the community manager of Collider Coworking in Rochester, decided to get down to business.

“How many of you like entrepreneurship?” he asked a crowd of Saint Mary’s undergraduate entrepreneurial and science students.

Appropriately, dozens of hands shot up the air.

Sundsbak, along with other key Mayo Clinic and Rochester business and entrepreneurial leaders, joined Saint Mary’s in Winona for classroom and public discussions about the how Rochester’s Destination Medical Center initiative will impact entrepreneurship and economic development throughout Southeastern Minnesota.

During the classroom presentation, students heard some sage advice about how to make it in the world of entrepreneurism.

Bruce Kline, Jamie Sundsbak, Xavier Frigola, and James Rogers.

The events, hosted by Saint Mary’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, brought in four experts:

  • James Rogers III, the chair of Mayo Clinic’s newly formed Department of Business Development;
  • Bruce Kline, a licensing manager within Mayo Clinic Ventures;
  • Xavier Frigola, director of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, Mayo Clinic’s biotechnology incubator in Rochester;
  • and Sundsbak, the community manager of Collider Coworking, an entrepreneurial and small business hub located in Rochester.

With Mayo Clinic at its heart, the $5.6 billion Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative is the catalyst to position Rochester as the world’s premier destination for health and wellness—attracting people, investment opportunities, and jobs, and supporting the economic growth of Minnesota, its bioscience sector, and beyond. Destination Medical Center will generate more than $5 billion in private investments and growth in the next 20 years.

Although the DMC project obviously focuses on Rochester, the four guest speakers were quick to point out at both events that the entire Southeast Minnesota region is rich with opportunity.

Rogers said that growth will occur across the spectrum of businesses including hospitality, service, higher education, and manufacturing.

The panelists listed a variety of products and services: restaurants, the entertainment industry, real estate ventures, and particularly technology that will be needed as part of the projected growth.

And, they told students, there is no better time to join the entrepreneurial realm than just after they graduate from college.

Kline told students that the best time is before children, before a mortgage, and before they become comfortable in a position and less likely to take risks.

Additionally Frigola and Sundsbak told them that successful businesspeople love to mentor college students. “Find mentors who have done it before. They have amazing knowledge and will help you set the course,” Sundsbak said.

Frigola added, “2017 is the best time in history because you can start a virtual business,” he said. “You can talk about ideas and build customers before spending a lot of money. Make a prototype and approach potential customers. If your first 19 of 20 are asking ‘When can I buy it,’ you know you’re onto something. Use free resources. A lot can be done with a laptop and an internet connection.”

Kline warned students not to lose sight that their end goal is to grow revenue. “You need to minimize output to get to the revenue stream,” he said. “You can’t be so busy building your company that you aren’t bringing in revenue.”

The guest speakers each stressed it takes a special someone to be an entrepreneur.

Frigola said he can tell quickly if a potential entrepreneur has what it takes. “I meet with them once, and we talk about ideas, and if by the second time, they’ve bought a website domain, done the market research, met with a lawyer, and talked with other investors, I know they have the will and the fire to succeed.”

Sundsbak added, “When they hit an obstacle, they don’t shut down. A successful entrepreneur is someone who says, ‘This is awesome. I will find a way around this wall.’ It’s difficult but noble. They’re the economic drivers of our country and our world.”

Joe Malinao ’17, a Biology pre-med major who is minoring in Business, said he learned through the two presentations that growth in Rochester brought about by the DMC project is going to be larger and happen quicker than he thought.

“I learned that the window of options to start a business or even a non-profit is bigger than I thought because there are two main target markets to address: the employees and the patients (along with their families) who are spending a significant amount of time in Rochester and the region,” he said.

Malinao said that if the opportunity and idea present themselves, he’s willing to take the risk. “As the speakers said, I am in the prime age to start a business,” he said. “Also, when they described the qualities of an entrepreneur, I heard a few that directly described myself. An entrepreneur is someone who is consistently passionate about what they love to do and a person who takes the initiative to take on change for the better, despite the opposition to those changes.”

About the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies

The Kabara Institute aims to incite a passion for entrepreneurial spirit in students across Saint Mary’s University, regardless of their major field of study, by providing opportunities for students to interact with entrepreneurs and experience entrepreneurship first-hand, and to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the importance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in our society.

To read an article about the evening discussion that appeared in the Rochester Post Bulletin, go to http://bit.ly/2kMsOzd




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