When the Center for Entrepreneurship opened the Startup Studio, Gus Gehlen jumped at the chance to set-up shop in the new space. The former Husker high jumper from Eagan, Minnesota, graduated in May with a business administration degree and seed money to start his company, Groove Watersports. All he needed was a place for his business to call home.
“Being able to work in the Startup Studio has a ton of benefits. The studio is a fully functioning, furnished office space equipped with high-speed internet, printers, scanners and copiers,” Gehlen explained. “We have utilized the space for day-to-day business operations, meeting with investors, legal consultations and early stage development for our prototype. Before we had a space in the studio, most of our meetings were taking place in coffee shops. It is great to have a physical space to call your own.”
As a student, Gehlen used resources and connections to put him ahead of the competition. He initially enrolled at St. Louis University to play basketball for legendary coach Rick Majerus. After two seasons, he transferred to UNL where he walked-on the track team as a high jumper. Once at Nebraska, he connected with Dr. Sam Nelson, associate professor of practice in management and interim director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and immersed himself in the entrepreneurship scene.
Gehlen ultimately pitched a business plan for a company to enhance the music listening experience for watersport enthusiasts at EntrepreneuringDays@ UNL last April. Impressing a panel of entrepreneurs with a prototype for a life jacket with built-in speakers, he won the undergraduate division in both the UNL New Venture and Global New Venture competitions. He walked away with $6,000 and invaluable feedback to start his company.
“The center has a great network of people who can guide you through the early stages of business,” he said. “I have gained real-life business experiences working with them I will carry with me forever. I am thankful for all they have done for me as I start this new venture.”