Aaron Gillaspie, ’09, came to Nebraska with entrepreneurial aspirations to create a better future. Today, named to Houston’s 40 Under 40, he brings care and compassion when helping others realize their entrepreneurial goals.
“When I saw Nebraska had an entrepreneurship program, which was kind of unheard of across the country at that time, I knew it could be the best win-win ever,” said Gillaspie, a Littleton, Colorado native who played fullback for the Huskers.
Gillaspie holds fond memories from the entrepreneurship program, like developing and pitching his own business plan. However, he shared how the most impactful moments came from conversations with Samuel Nelson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of practice in management, and Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, outside the classroom.
“It was something about the way they invested in me and I also invested in them before and after class that changed the way I looked at things. Being around great people and taking the initiative to stop by during office hours or talk outside of class – that changed my life,” said Gillaspie, a management major.
He then modeled that level of care and investment with his own students when he entered the realm of education as a teacher in Teach for America and founder of the Brilla College Prep Public Charter School. He also realized educating students required the skills he learned in the Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Running a class is like entrepreneurship 101. Pitching to students, selling to them, guerilla marketing them and teaching them why they should care about math – that is more entrepreneurship to this day than I've ever done,” he said.
Now in Texas working in the beauty care industry, Gillaspie helps beauty professionals build their own businesses through My Salon Suites. He strives to bring beauty professionals together within a thriving community of cosmetic entrepreneurs and connect them with the resources they need to succeed.
“That’s our motto – put people in business for themselves, not by themselves. I love the entrepreneurial spirit, especially in the cosmetics,” said Gillaspie, whose company helped nearly 500 beauty professionals start their own business. “I want to form 2,500 businesses under my ownership that are people in business for themselves and that will happen in the next five years – that’s a drop mic moment.”
To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship, visit: https://business.unl.edu/entrepreneurship.