ASU's Entrepreneurship Catalysts mentor next wave of innovators

The student workers provide advice and guidance to kickstart projects

A group of students known as Entrepreneurship Catalysts are paid by ASU to help anyone affiliated with ASU with their new innovative ideas.

These students serve as a peer-to-peer resource for any students or faculty that want to turn an idea into action.

These students work part time in the office of the school of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ASU to provide a more personal connection to what it takes to present an entrepreneurial idea. 

Currently, there are six Entrepreneurship Catalysts that serve on the four main ASU campuses. These students are tasked with listening to the ideas of students and faculty, asking the appropriate questions and pointing them to the right resource.

They are meant to help "serve the broader connection and community around entrepreneurship," said Lauren Dunning, a senior program manager within Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Dunning said these students are a “sounding board," and they provide feedback for ideas people may be working on. 

Dunning said this offers a more personal connection than having the potential entrepreneurs look at a website. The “guided conversation” that the Catalysts and students go through help explore their ideas so that they can feel “connected to the larger community” by connecting with this student resource.

"You just want one more person to talk to, to figure out where you might want to go and to have it be a dialogue versus a website to look at," Dunning said.

Entrepreneur Catalysts connect anyone related to ASU with the various and extensive entrepreneurial related resources that the E + I department and the University have to offer, said Bradley Biehl, one of the Entrepreneurship Catalysts and a sophomore double majoring in business entrepreneurship and nonprofit leadership.

“We’re here to kind of help truly catalyze an individual's entrepreneurial journey in whatever way we can,” Biehl said. 

This resource differs from other peer mentors and resources on campus because they are really in the know about the entrepreneurship opportunities at ASU. 

Dunning said that the students they hired have expertise in entrepreneurship and innovation, and that allows them to support students in the early stages of certain ideas and how to build off from there. 

Bailey Gading, a program coordinator at the E + I office said they are also extensively trained before starting in their role.

"We do train them beforehand heavily on the resources we provide at the E + I office," Gading said.

According to Dunning, the fact that these Catalysts are fellow students at ASU gives them the additional experience necessary to provide a more comfortable and relatable journey for those whom they are helping.

“I think there is something special about talking directly to someone else that’s also managing classes, that’s also a student right now,” Dunning said. “That helps it make the student’s ideas more relatable and achievable.”

Biehl said that these students are a very multifaceted and different group of people that have a genuine passion and curiosity for entrepreneurship. Contrary to what people may think, they aren't all business majors.

 “It truly is a diverse group,” Biehl said. 

Jack Culbertson, a sophomore majoring in business entrepreneurship, is one of the students that has worked with Biehl.

Culbertson had an idea for his very own podcast and needed help making it come to fruition in the right way. With the help of Biehl, he was able to get an idea as to how it worked and what he needed to do. Biehl "gave a lot of guidance" and was a mentor to Culbertson.

"He pointed me in the right direction," Culbertson said. "I knew nothing about starting a podcast, and he really helped me in that."

Culbertson said with mentorship and guidance he was able to start his podcast, "U Got Struggles?" He also said that there are "so many opportunities at ASU" and having a mentor has really helped narrow things down.

"(The resources) are out there and we just don't know about them," Culbertson said. "We just have to go out and find them." 


Reach the reporter at ljchatha@asu.edu and follow @alphaluke15 on Twitter.

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