Q & A with the Fellows
About the Initiators Fellowship
The program provides the next generation of Central Minnesota's aspiring business leaders with the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society’s needs while solidifying their leadership role in the region. Initiators Fellows are drawn from the 160 hometowns and two tribal nations served by the Initiative Foundation.
1. How has being an Initiators Fellow impacted your business venture thus far?
The fellowship has given me some breathing room so I can focus more time to develop a meaningful commercialization strategy for Awear Technologies and execute on our implementation plans. It also has provided me with a solid support system and has connected me to an experienced mentor who can provide advice and guidance. The Initiative Foundation has also connected me to subject matter experts on leadership, storytelling, entrepreneurship, and other influencers, funders and potential customers. I would add, too, that the fellowship has provided me with additional credibility and exposure through the Initiative Foundation that is priceless for a small business trying to become noticed and take the next step.
2. What are some skills, insights, etc., that you have learned from being a Fellow?
Lessons from skilled entrepreneurs and useful leadership practices have come my way as a result of Initiative Foundation training. I’ve learned that just when I think I’ve figured things out or, to the contrary, when I think I am stumped, I learn new perspectives and approaches to remove uncertainty, expose vulnerabilities and make additional progress. It is this specific and applied reasoning and trouble-shooting that I’ve picked up through conversations with advisors and others.
3. What are some current/new happenings with your business venture, Awear Technologies?
We have completed a set of reading comprehension trials with eight college students that show a 10 to 15 percent improvement from short-term use of our eyewear. We also will have our next commercial-ready prototype ready for pilot trials. We are planning in-school trials with a Twin Cities charter school, hopefully starting yet during the current school year. We are keeping our fingers crossed on a Department of Education grant to fund additional product testing and school trials in fall 2018.
4. Anything else you would like to add about your experience as a Fellow?
I appreciate the discipline and tough love shown by the leaders of the program. They are forcing me to be accountable and focused. An entrepreneur who’s full of ideas (or something else!) needs this type of over-the-shoulder observation and intervention to be successful. At least I do.