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Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

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


Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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