Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Nurturing the Entrepreneurial SpiritBy Joe Rice, Director, Eastern Panhandle Technology Innovation Center

The spirit of entrepreneurship doesn’t go away after you launch your company. In fact, many entrepreneurs consider themselves “serial entrepreneurs” as they seek the thrill and excitement of starting a new company. These serial entrepreneurs gather much more satisfaction in starting companies than they do in running them. Dealing with day-to-day operations can be mundane and is not as invigorating as developing their idea to fruition. Their passion is in creating the business and, as soon as the business is thriving, they seek to develop their next project.

I recently moderated a workshop conducted by the Eastern Panhandle Technology Innovation Center (EPTIC), in Charles Town, West Virginia, the area’s first tech incubator. It was as the guest speaker talked about his entrepreneurial passion, that I had my “A-Ha!” moment. As soon as I get a company or product launched, I start to think about my next endeavor and have come to realize that is how I am wire.

The development of EPTIC has been an 18-month journey, full of new discovery, lots of training and the typical roller coaster of emotions that entrepreneurs feel when they are building a new concept from scratch. It’s only appropriate, then, that I work for American Public University System (APUS) as EPTIC director while developing ideas for new ventures. APUS was founded in 1991 by an entrepreneur to help our servicemen and women obtain a quality, affordable education and that innovative spirit continues to thrive throughout the university.

APUS is the driving force behind the development and ongoing support of EPTIC. Being a serial entrepreneur, and being a part of an organization that so highly values entrepreneurship, has certainly been a wonderful match for me. In fact, APUS currently offers related degree programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s level, and will also soon be launching a new industry web portal offering a wide variety of supporting resources for current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Over the last eight years. I have developed several new businesses and am currently working on more. My first company, Kudda, was a video resource for coaches of youth sports. I also launched the Game of the Week, which broadcasts high school lacrosse games in Baltimore, on the web, and which I am looking to expand to other regions. While some of these ventures failed miserably, I learned valuable lessons along the way.

Beyond EPTIC, my latest venture is focused on both consumer and commercial applications for drones. Since I have a video production background, I see benefits in providing aerial video for sporting events and coaching purposes. For example, last weekend I was able to video a lacrosse practice and the unique angle from the drone enables a great teaching tool for both coaches and players.

But there is a lot more potential for other applications that can be accessed by the drone’s platform. I am currently working with several engineering students in using the drone to do 3D scanning and surveying. We are testing out this process with various markets and industries to see if we can develop a niche service. Who knows what we will figure out in the coming months, but the excitement and “rush” of learning new concepts and taking the chance to apply those into the development of a new business is what gets me motivated each day.

Joe Rice is the director of the Eastern Panhandle Technology Innovation Center and a faculty member at American Public University

 

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