Engineering | Entrepreneurship + Innovation

Finding mentors, time management key to launching a business. It takes sacrifice, hard work and maybe a missed class or two, but students can launch and nurture a business while they’re still at Arizona State University.

Four students who successfully launched startups gave advice during a panel discussion Wednesday night sponsored by Entrepreneurship + Innovation Ambassadors, a student group.

Here’s the advice from these student entrepreneurs:

Veronica Head, co-founder of Aquaponos, a kit that grows food by combining hydroponics with goldfish, and a master’s degree student in sustainable engineering: “We built a community garden and totally failed. Our system kind of broke and melted down in a parking lot. We loved what we were doing and found a need for sustainable growing so we took a different spin and started with a five-gallon bucket and made a home system. We started off with a really big vision and took it to an individual level to make it marketable.”

Jonny Reiss, co-founder of SpotSense, a platform that enables mobile devices to determine location using unique wireless signal fingerprints, and a junior majoring in computer science: “I had been building websites since middle school and I had a buddy who took his parents’ liquor bottles and made lamps from them so I made a website for him to sell them. So then I decided I wanted to build a website for myself.”

Tyler Fellman, co-founder of Fellman Watch Co., which makes stylish watches designed for outdoor use, and an MBA student: “I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I want to make money in the watch industry.’ I had a job as an engineer and I started making a watch as a hobby. It transpired into a viable product once I started creating 3-D printed watches in small batches for people who wanted to buy them. Then I started working with suppliers. Then I got a Kickstarter that was successful. Then I got more inventory and started selling all the watches, and now it’s getting bigger and bigger.”

Scott Fitsimones, co-founder of AirGarage, an online platform that allows homeowners and businesses to rent parking spaces to people looking for parking near ASU, and a junior majoring in computer science: “In my freshman year I was excited to come to ASU — number one in innovation — and I found out that parking was the nightmare of my undergraduate career. I was getting emails game day saying ‘You have to move your car.’ So in sophomore year I decided to get more creative and I put a handwritten letter on a mailbox asking if I could park in their driveway and one neighbor said, ‘Yes, you can park here for $50 a year.’ I wanted more people to have that experience.”

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