Student Group Promotes Entrepreneurial Ventures On & Off Campus

By Caitlin Mack
Univ. Communications

UR Entrepreneurs is an undergraduate club that promotes the development of new enterprises on campus and the Greater Rochester area.

The S.A. recognized group, which started in 2005, is part of the University of Rochester’s Center for Entrepreneurship and has the support of many community leaders. The group has recently revamped their focus to provide clients with increased technical assistance, such as mobile application development, website design, and research development.

President Jonathan Gonzalez ’14 explains, “the club itself is an entrepreneurial project,” and that being involved has helped him learn how to lead projects, manage money, and think outside of the box.

UR Entrepreneurs is currently working with on-campus nonprofits UR Uganda and New Sudan Aid to increase awareness of each group’s respective social message via marketing, business and website development, and branding. They also are working with Jonny Trade, a start-up online trading company founded by a Simon School student, to help them facilitate online trading.

The group is always looking for new ventures, and would like to become more active in off-campus projects.  Gladys “Gigi” Nickerson ’14, is the group’s venture development officer. She is in charge of developing new projects and identifying entrepreneurial ventures, and acts as a “program manager” to keep track of the group’s current projects. Members are assigned to a committee representing each client to ensure that they are advised in the best way possible.

Other main tools of the group include strategy and capacity-building assistance and marketing campaigns.  Ideally, Gonzalez explains, UR Entrepreneurs will help “firms that have potential for growth and are not achieving that potential, but as a result of working with UR Entrepreneurs will achieve that potential.”

Gonzalez, who plans on a career in “responsible real estate development” for low income families, explains that being a part of UR Entrepreneurs has had real world application. For him, the important aspects have been “exposure to the reality of getting things going” and exploring what “it really takes to have entrepreneurial, leadership acumen. You need to make sure your ideas and input are valuable.”

The group recently merged with UR Consulting, a group established as a functioning consulting firm in 2009 by Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) student, Gemma Sole ’10. The merger made sense to keep UR Consulting sustainable after its founders left and to further empower UR Entrepreneurs with similar project and tools.

According to Gonzalez, UR Entrepreneurs have a wide range of academic majors; the executive board consists of economics, business, and math majors, and the business manager of the group, Phillip Sellstrom ’13, is an environmental science major. Gonzalez explains that the group has enabled students of different academic interests to “gain practical experience in the field of business and insight into how creating value is actually done.”

The group is always looking for new members and recently held a well-attended general interest meeting on Sunday, Sept. 24. In addition, the group is currently in need of an off-campus publicity manager to encourage entrepreneurial ventures in the Greater Rochester area.  The position, separate from the role of on-campus publicity manager, “allows for the best branding and marketing exposure possible,” explains Gonzalez.  Qualifications for this position include web development and web design literacy, an appreciation for media, and creativity. Those interested in the position or interested in learning more about the group should contact Jonathan Gonzalez at jonathanjamesgonzalez@rochester.edu.

In the Photo: UR Entrepreneurs Executive Board (from left to right): Philip Sellstrom ’13, Business Manager; Danny Sarmiento ’14, UR Consulting Executive Director; Daniel Wei ’15, Secretary; Jonathan Gonzalez ’15, President; Gladys Nickerson ’14, Venture Development Officer; Lin Zhang ’14, On-Campus Publicity Director.