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Hundreds engage at second StartItUp Conference

UNG students talk with Chau Nguyen (right), founder of Hirewire, after his presentation at the second StartItUp Conference.

The Mike Cottrell College of Business' Center for the Future of North Georgia at the University of North Georgia (UNG) hosted six nationally-recognized entrepreneurs on Oct. 6 at the second annual StartItUp Conference — an event designed to drive entrepreneurship and new business in the north Georgia region.

The event was attended by more than 250 UNG students, faculty, staff, high school students and business owners.

"Within an entrepreneurial ecosystem, universities play a vital role in providing knowledge and the workforce for new ventures," said Dr. Ruben Boling, director of the Center for the Future of North Georgia. "Events like the StartItUp Conference and our recent series of lunch and learns on entrepreneurship play a part in driving future new venture and small business growth in our region."

Speakers at the event included:

  • Chau Nguyen – founder of Hirewire and named one of 2014's Most Loved CEOs in America by Inc. Magazine
  • Derrick & Danielle Case – UNG alumni, co-founders of DressUp and recently listed as a member of the Inc. 5,000 – America's fastest growing companies
  • Keith Osayande & Obi Anachebe, co-founders of FitGenie and participants in Georgia Tech's 2016 Startup Summer program
  • Connor Ford – 19-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of Spirit

"The idea is a very small part of being an entrepreneur," Nguyen said. "Having a good idea is important, but the execution of the idea is really what entrepreneurship is all about."

All of the participants during the conference emphasized the concept of grit, or the courage and resolve to complete a given task, and the importance of seeing each failure as a learning opportunity.

"This was a great way to meet and hear from real-world, relatable entrepreneurs of all ages in different stages of their start-ups," said Morgan Winn, a senior majoring in business management and marketing. "Every presentation was unique and resonated differently with me, and each presenter spoke about beginning small and learning how to fix their mistakes to become fully knowledgeable about their industry."

Winn added that her main takeaway from the conference was took away from the conference was knowing what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.

"It takes a certain person to stand strong and tough through all of the tribulations, but when it's something you're passionate about, then it's something worth thinking about 24/7 and putting in all your effort, so that you can share it with others," she said.

After each speaker, attendees had the opportunity to network among themselves and with area business owners.

The Center for the Future of North Georgia develops and implements programs to inspire growth in the north Georgia region through entrepreneurship and economic and professional development.

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