The Only Reason to Start a Company is…

Nov 30, 2010

Attendee take-aways from AZEC10

Each year at AZEC, students from our Arizona universities are sponsored by members of our entrepreneurial community to attend, connect, learn, share and engage.  It is part of OTEF’s philosophy that to build a strong community you invest in it.  And when we do, we pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs.


Matt Clower

Matt Clower of, is a local marketing entrepreneur focused on helping businesses execute branding and interactive marketing services. An ASU student, he is passionate about helping small to mid-sized businesses express themselves on the web. You can view a snapshot of his recent workhere.

As part of the AZEC experience, we ask our student attendees to share some key take-aways from their day with us.  Here is what Matt has to share:

The only reason to start a company is…

It might be hard for veteran entrepreneurs to believe that AZEC was the first time I heard a phrase like, “The only reason to start a company is to change the world” when Eric Keosky-Smithsaid it, but it was. I wasn’t a stranger to about 1/4 of the people in the room at the event, but it finally clicked that this room was full of the people who seem to always put themselves out there and see the value in investing in others, the next generation, and other entrepreneurs despite any guarantee of reward.  A “paying it forward” club, if you will.

For me, it was both an affirmation of some general themes running in my life lately, as well as a good jolt of “Just Do It” I’ve been needing.  Here’s some sound bites that got my attention:

Kathy Kolbesaid, “You have instinct.  You don’t start a business unless you are crazy or you have a purpose.”   It seems like a human need I’m becoming acutely aware of:  people want to be given permission to do something in life.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for a sign.  Received, thanks!

She went on to say, “If you know who you are, you can surround yourself by people who enhance what you are trying to do.”  It makes sense.  I’m learning to surround myself with different kinds of people – the ones who have the strengths in areas other than my own.

Dr Paul Bendheimpointed out, “It’s more exciting not to catch a big fish than to catch a lot of little ones”  – we should stop overlooking our small but great ideas.  They might not be the next Facebook, but they could be really good for ourselves and other people.

Debra Johnsonshowed the power of having a vision board.. something to keep you focused on what you want so you can maintain persistence.  I’ve heard this before, but her tour of how her vision board turned into reality was a real treat.  I think my biggest struggle is knowing what I want and keeping focused on it!  I’ve decided to have fun with that over the holidays… dream mode.

Probably the best quote of the day was from Sharon Lechteron collaboration, “In school, collaboration is called cheating.  In business, it’s called smart business.” Well put!  I am continually astonished as to how much (poor) conditioning we have to unlearn from our lives on a daily basis!

Probably the best points from Clate Mask’stalk sum up the biggest takeaways from all of AZEC10:

  • Build emotional capital – networking & relationships are key.
  • Have disciplined optimism.
  • Assert your entrepreneurial independence.
  • Tune into your gut!

Thank you so much Jeanne and OTEF for investing in me this year, I look forward to paying it forward myself!

Matt Clower

OTEF NOTE:  We have more student take-away posts coming soon, but this one was special since December 1, 2010  is Pay It Forward Day.  Don’t miss your opportunity to make an investment in the future and pay it forward.

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