What’s the True Value Universities Offer Their Student Entrepreneurs?

June 9, 2015

10:00 pm

The true value that an entrepreneurial program offers students at a college or university shouldn’t be measured in capital raised, by the number of employees they have, or how many mentors they have signed on. Granted all of those are great things and also shouldn’t be ignored, but I think the important thing to pay attention to is the drive and passion instilled in the student.

Not long ago I went to the University of San Diego to watch their V2 Pitch Competition, and I saw a group of college men take the stage. The crowd was laced with their friends and supporters who raucously cheered as they took the microphone.

If I’m being completely honest, I thought it was a case of your classic college hijinks, but then the founder got into his pitch and I realized how wrong I was. Nathan Resnick might not have won the gold at V2 that night, but I noticed something very interesting about his brand, which he’s called YesMan.

Not only do I think it’s a fun and smart idea, I also think it’s fueled entirely by drive and passion. That’s something Resnick proved to me when I met with him to talk more about it, and that’s something he honed at his university:

“YesMan is my baby and I want to grow it into a huge company,” Resnick says, adamantly.

During his freshman year of college Resnick and some of his friends realized that a lot of good things in this world start with one simple word: yes. As a team they would push each other to accomplish as much as they could with their day, all centered on the concept of opening up to possibility and opportunity with a “yes”.

And then it happened – one day Resnick checked the time on his watch. His mind was instantly forced to negativity because he hates the holes on leather watch straps.

What if your wrist size falls right in the middle of two of those holes? That question led him to think: why hasn’t anybody made a leather watch strap without holes? Can I really do this?

Of course, his answer was “yes”, and not long after he had a patent pending on an entirely new kind of wristwatch band and buckle concept. That’s when YesMan was born. The team at YesMan realized that pretty much every leather watch strap is made with holes in it, which reads as horribly inefficient to Resnick.

“Currently we have the only leather watch strap without holes. It keeps the leather on your strap fresh and pretty much guarantees a perfect fit,” explains Resnick.

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Not long after the first Kickstarter to fund this idea, which was funded past the $15,000 goal to $32,648, Resnick introduced YesMan’s second product. Alongside the watches, YesMan now sells sunglasses – and we’re not talking like the cheesy glasses you get at trade shows.

The team isn’t stopping their either: they’ve got three Kickstarter campaigns lined up for the summer of 2015. Only one of them, however, is geared towards growing YesMan. The other two will be for building two other completely separate brands, and Resnick assures me he won’t be spending any less time on YesMan because of it.

“I thought it would be the money that would motivate me, but the best day of the whole experience is when we saw our ideas turn into a physical product,” says Resnick. “What motivates me now is seeing people wearing our products. It’s unbelievable.”

To bring it full circle, let’s revisit where this voracious entrepreneurial hunger came from. I think on some level the entire purpose of education is to help students achieve complete learning autonomy, in whatever form that takes.

Case in point, Resnick hasn’t even graduated yet and he’s already built one successful brand with two more in the works. Imagine where he’ll be five years out from graduation.

Disclosure: I went to the University of San Diego, but I did not attend at the same time as Resnick and had not met him prior to the USD V2 Pitch Competition.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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