Since its launch in 2014, Zuventurez has made a name for itself by producing highly prepared entrepreneurs with business ideas they hope will change the world. The success of Zuventurez participants has proved that the program offers invaluable resources and advice that many entrepreneurs don’t receive when first launching their start-up. By providing participants with coaches who have real-life experience in the business and start-up world, our organization has given those who complete the program a leg up on the competition they face in their professional endeavors. Those who go through the Zuventurez program agree that they learn relevant skills and are taught repeatable processes that they may use to improve and expand their business even after their time with Zuventurez has come to an end.
I wanted to find out more about the “Zuventurez success stories,” so I got in contact with two past participants and a current coach to ask them about their experience being in the Zuventurez (ZV) program.
Drea graduated from APU with a degree in Graphic Design and currently works part-time as a freelance graphic designer as well as full-time with her company Dvvy. Dvvy is a tech start-up music app that connects amateur musicians with professionals in the industry. When asked if she was skeptical to join ZV, Drea was excited to let me know that she wasn’t afraid to take part (joining was a class requirement) and that she is glad she joined because it has “PROPELLED HER COMPANY.” “It helped me take an idea and turn it into a functional business”, Drea told me.
I then asked her how Zuventurez has helped her business. She explained that it assisted her in creating the “FOUNDATION FOR THE COMPANY.” “It allowed me to define what I wanted to achieve and got me ready for the business world.” Like the majority of participants that have gone through the Zuventurez program, Drea wants those considering joining to recognize that this program helps prepare you for the business world you will enter outside of APU. The most important thing Drea learned from participating in Zuventurez is to “BE MORE OPEN.” “It’s important to always be open to feedback. There’s a lot of value in hearing other people’s feedback.” Finally, Drea’s advice to those considering joining the program: “BE READY TO WORK YOUR BUTT OFF. Expect negative feedback but be excited about it. Having a GOOD DESIGNER allows for your business to be taken more seriously in the competition.”
A recent APU graduate with a degree in Computer Science and Humanities, Nico currently works for IBM, a renowned computer manufacturing company, and is hoping to gain more industry experience. He works on his company Ambit in his free time and is currently working to produce an early prototype of an Ambit app. Ambit analyzes your calendar and dynamically schedules and reschedules your appointments in order to help you complete all the tasks on your calendar.
Nico admitted that although he joined Zuventurez as part of a requirement for his class he “took it seriously and tried really hard.” When asked how ZV helped his business Nico told me, “I know a lot about the technical side of things. I didn’t know as much about the business side. I had questions like, ‘How do you sell people on an idea’ or ‘I have this cool idea but I don’t know how to have it make sense to anyone.” The program helped him answer these questions and allowed him to progress from someone interested in tech startups to a distinguished entrepreneur.
The most important thing Nico learned from Zuventurez was, “You need to be able to find a way to SIMPLIFY COMPLEX THINGS. You must be able to sell in a short period of time.” As someone with an extensive amount of experience in tech, he recognizes that in business you must continually “understand what the most important things are for non-technical people.” Nico is now actively learning about his audience and looking for ways to tailor his product to the needs of the consumer. Nico’s advice for those looking to join Zuventurez: “ZV makes a lot of resources available, all you have to do is ask for them. Reach out and use the resources available to you!”
Brian has over 20 years of business experience and will be participating as a coach and mentor for the 2018-2019 season of Zuventurez, meaning YOU have the opportunity to have him as your coach! I wanted to interview Brian in order to find out more about why he wanted to offer his time and experience to the APU community. I asked Brian “What is your favorite part about being a ZV coach?” To which he enthusiastically told me, “I am able to lean on sharing my professional experience in order to help students succeed. I get to help them improve their pitches, message, and story. I really love the energy and the culture surrounding start-ups and, although I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur, I love coming beside them.”
In preparation for the season, I asked Brian to recall some mistakes Zuventurez teams have made in the past in order to help teams avoid similar misfortunes this season. Brian says there are two common mistakes participants make while competing; “One is not taking advantage of the coach that’s been assigned to them.” He continued, saying that many times participants don’t share enough information with their coaches soon enough in order to allow their coach to best serve them in the competition; “The second is allowing themselves to become distracted by too many sources of advice.”
Brian wants Zuventurez participants to know that although it’s important to take advice from those with more experience than you, you must be cautious when choosing what information you will actually apply to your business. Brian’s advice for those looking to join Zuventurez: “It prepares them for the real world and gives them a COMPETITIVE EDGE. Don’t hesitate, sign up. THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE WELL WORTH THE TIME INVESTED.”
These are just a few of the many Zuventurez success stories. Those who go through the program are offered resources and connections that can last a lifetime. Many of the Zuventurez fellows (those who have gone through the program at least once) have kept in contact with their assigned coaches and mentors years after their season ended and have been offered advice, connections, and even JOB OPPORTUNITIES. Coaches and mentors are just one of the many resources Zuventurez offers participants. These success stories happen every season and YOU could be next! YOU could be the next Drea Driver or Nico Chera. We invite you to join the 2018-2019 season of Zuventurez.
If that’s too much all at once, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our Block Party on September 4th from 6:00-7:00 PM and enjoy some free Blaze pizza and other delicious treats and beverages while you learn more about the program and the opportunities it could bring you and your aspiring business. Already an established business owner? Come and network with investors and other entrepreneurs! Not interested in any of this “start your own business” stuff? There are Pop-Up Shops! Kyle Janes’ “Neat Speak”, Christian Sanchez’s “Urban Vinyl”, “Caleb Linden Design’s”, and many others will all be selling their unique products so CHECK IT OUT!
- HALEY SCOTT AND JOE TORKELSON