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UNG offers a small space for entrepreneurs to dream big

eLab Open House
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab (eLab) held an open house on Nov. 15 that allowed potential UNG entrepreneurs to check out the space in an office park near the Dahlonega Campus.

Just off Morrison Moore Parkway in Dahlonega, unit No. 6 on 24 Alicia Lane is in an office park tucked between the town's post office and a fast food restaurant. At 1,100 square feet, the relatively small space has big potential in allowing University of North Georgia (UNG) students, faculty, staff, and alumni to realize their dream of starting their own business.

The space, called the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab (eLab), allows its members to participate in integrated training programs, share common workspaces, gain access to mentors and funding sources, and collaborate with other members to create and grow their own startups. 

The eLab is sponsored and operated by the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation within the Mike Cottrell College of Business at UNG. An open house on Nov. 15 allowed potential UNG entrepreneurs to check out the space.

The eLab has two separate conference rooms, two small offices for members to privately meet clients or make phone calls and a large common area that can be configured for groups to collaborate on projects, hold workshops or seminars, or just socialize and trade ideas.

"We were thrilled that the university has supported our efforts to provide a space for our business-minded faculty, staff and students," said Dr. Donna Mayo, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business. "We believe a space like this allows people to be creative in their thought process. It's a place to energize minds, to have great collaboration among like-minded individuals. You can dream big here."

During his business career, Dr. Ruben Boling, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, served as owner or co-owner of two different small businesses and as a partner in start-up initiatives in larger companies and institutions. He has long sought a space for local business startups to use as a base of operations.

"The main thing that we wanted to do with this space was to use it to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem," Boling said. "UNG has a good academic foundation to foster that ecosystem. It was important that we create a place where aspiring business owners can work, meet, mentor each other, learn from one another, and grow their business."

Boling said the plan is to offer the space to local entrepreneurs in the spring, but for now is promoting the eLab within the UNG community.

One potential member for the eLab was Nick Roth, 22, a business management major at UNG and small business owner. The Austin, Texas, native was named the Forsyth County 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year for his business, Teach All Tech, that markets one-on-one or group classes to adult seniors wanting to learn how to use their computers, smartphones, wireless routers, or other electronic devices.

"This is a great space to work; it's quiet, even more so than the library, and you can escape all the outside distractions of a public space," Roth said. You can even write on the walls in here. That's something I really like."

Roth said he plans to grow his business by marketing his services to area retirement homes, providing a key service that they don't have now. He plans to sign up as an eLab member after graduating in December.

"I'm working on a series of how-to videos for clients to post on YouTube, and this would be a great place to shoot and edit video," he said.

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