By Liset Puentes
Equipped with high-tech gadgets, meeting space and top mentors on campus, The Ozmen Center is ready to help faculty, students, and community members launch their businesses. The Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship is an added resource envisioned to fill a gap between present resources available in the community and passionate entrepreneurs ready to bet on their business ideas.
The center operates in Room 402 of the Ansari Business Building from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Gregory Mosier, College of Business Dean, the center’s goals are to expand collaborations, get more students involved and create a start-up culture on campus for students who want to participate.
With the support of University of Nevada, Reno alumni Fatih Ozmen and Eren Ozmen, who pledged $5 million to make the center possible, it will be able to evolve as students and the community engage with their business ideas.
“The center has a lot of potential for students who have bright ideas and want more concrete support,” said Jordan Bauzon, president of Business Peer Mentors. “Students can feel they are not going into the business world alone.”
Currently, the center has a wide range of assistance from graduate students in the areas of science, journalism and technology. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the Nevada Office of Veterans Service will also be working with the center providing training for veterans, and offering mentorship programs for entrepreneurs.
“Once they fine tune and focus on how they are going to be beneficial to all students, it will make a big difference for them,” said senior Holly Mable.
Chris Howard, executive officer of Reno- based NorthStar Investors, Inc. runs the center alongside Kylie Rowe, a master’s of business administration student and real estate entrepreneur.
Rowe has spent a lot of time determining what new community partnerships can be created and what resources are available for entrepreneurs.
Some of the Ozmen Center’s partners include City of Reno and the Nevada Small Business Development Center.
Associate professor of management Bret Simmons believes the Center will raise the visibility of the grassroots movements already existing within the community recognizing the center will be in collaboration with many of these organizations.
“The Center helps focus attention on using formal studies to provide a starting point for innovation and creating new ventures,” Mosier said.
While the center has just begun its operation, the College of Business has seen a growing interest in entrepreneurship since 2008, according to Rowe.
The first real push for entrepreneurship came with the Sontag Competition offering an award of $50,000 for the business plan with the most innovative idea according to Simmons.
Faculty pushed for greater implementation of entrepreneurial curriculum four years ago and was able to add an entrepreneurship minor and a master’s program with an emphasis in entrepreneurship to the business school’s curriculum.
The Pack Pitch, put on by the UNR Entrepreneurship Club, also helps students develop their business concepts offering prizes for the best two-minute business pitches.
Rowe said what holds the center together is the level of passion among the people working to create a place where entrepreneurship will thrive.
“It’s a lot about personality, you have to believe in yourself and have some passion behind it, we want people who come into the center who are passionate about entrepreneurship,” Rowe said. “I see the Ozmen Center serving as a vehicle to introduce entrepreneurship as a career path.”