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UA club provides resources for business students

A new club on campus is helping young entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life.

Startup Tucson is a city-wide organization that aims to grow the community through business ventures. Justin Williams, founder of Startup Tucson and president of the UA chapter, said he saw that there were entrepreneurs on campus and decided Startup Tucson needed to bring its resources to the university so students could use them to start their own companies.

“We’re just there as an outside party to help provide access to investors or experienced CEOs in a way that’d be really hard for a student who just showed up from Phoenix,” Williams said.

Though the club was formed in January 2013, its first official meeting was last Tuesday, Williams said, adding that the goal of the meetings is to give students the opportunity to share ideas about companies they’d like to start.

Williams said it is important for students to validate assumptions about their ideas for companies through real-world experience by talking to potential customers about their business ideas. This teaches students to focus on customers, which is crucial in the business world, he said.

“In the end, all of the things we’re teaching are really valuable skills,” Williams said, “whether you go create a company or whether you go work for Intel.”

Ian Tracey, co-founder and treasurer of the student chapter of Startup Tucson, said the club will help future entrepreneurs get their foot in the door of the local business community.

“Getting involved in Startup Tucson is kind of like the umbrella of the entrepreneur community here,” said Tracey, who is a freshman studying management information systems and business economics. “The people you’ll meet from that are the people that are creating the next big businesses in Tucson and in the Southwest.”

Tracey said that meeting people through Startup Tucson has helped him personally.

The club will allow college students to pitch their business ideas, which is an important part of gaining real-world experience, he added.

“I feel that the learning curve kind of throws you into the fire,” Tracey said, “and that’s a great way to get experience.”

Being a part of organizations such as LeadLocal or Startup Tucson is especially important for young people, said Robin Breault, co-founder of LeadLocal, a company that gives high school and college student interns the opportunity to gain business skills through consulting projects.

“The opportunity to get involved … where you are actually able to be the change that you want to see, is huge,” Breault said. “If we don’t invest in young people and get them into leadership positions, we’re screwed.”

- Follow Maggie Driver @Maggie_Driver


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