MARIETTA — The ways of the entrepreneur is a path to success.
“It’s not just about small business owning and managing, it’s a mindset, something we think everyone should have to succeed in life, whether they own a business or not,” she said.
Khorassani, director of entrepreneurship programs at Marietta College and primary organizer for the Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneurship Expo, believes anyone with an innovative turn of mind can benefit from the expo.
The expo is coming 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 to the Marietta College campus, with a keynote speaker, closing presentations and concurrent workshops covering everything from social media and marketing to banking and accounting.
Khorassani said the expo is intended to reach a wide audience.
“The conference is not exclusively about how to start a business, it has a broader vision, a wider set of objectives,” she said. “There is networking, sources of inspiration, new accounting, managerial and marketing tools, what is new in human resources.
“There will be concurrent workships for people who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs and also those who already are but might be thinking about expansion or taking their business in a new direction.”
It’s the second year for the expo, which in 2016 drew about 160 people. Khorassani said she hopes to have upward of 250 this year.
The event is supported by 19 business, nonprofit and organizational partners, she said. About 30 vendors will be on hand with booths, demonstrations and pop-up presentations.
The daylong expo includes keynote speeches by nationally recognized author and business adviser Carol Roth and Pickering Associates founder Charles “Chip” Pickering, an architect and business innovator from Parkersburg.
Participants will have choices of three concurrent workshops in each of three time blocks through the day, according to the expo program, on subjects ranging from use of social media to the latest accounting practices and tax news.
The topics were chosen using feedback from people who attended last year’s expo, Khorassani said.
Jeremy Turner, founder of the Empowerment, Process, Impact, Capacity Mission, moved back to his native Huntington last year after a long absence running his business coaching and consulting firm in the business hotbed of Charlotte, N.C. He had to establish new contacts and renew old ones and get to know the economic landscape of his home city all over.
Attending the 2016 expo was “fantastic,” he said.
“As part of getting reacclimated, I discovered this conference,” he said. “It was really wonderful to see what a university can do for stimulating economy, helping it grow. I’m really impressed with what Marietta College is doing.”
The expo offered help, exposure and encouragement, he said.
“I met a terrific variety of resources, and it gave me a bigger toolbox for my clients,” he said. “I got an opportunity to see what was going on just a couple hours away from Huntington and how a university can influence economic development by providing a platform for businesses to come together, feel that collaborative spirit, lean on one another.”
Khorassani said the expo is a natural fit for the college.
“We have the resources, many of the presenters are college faculty,” she said.
“The bulk of the participants are going to be students, both college and high school, and that’s part of our mission.”
The Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability Regional Innovation is a program run out of Ohio University to help individuals in a 28-county region of West Virgina, Kentucky and southeastern Ohio who have viable ideas for designing, building and manufacturing products. Jennifer Simon, the program’s executive director, said it was just getting launched when she attended the expo last year.
“As a result of that expo, we helped put together grant agreements and through that relationship with Marietta College, we’re identifying potential startups we can help,” she said.
The expo is a chance for service providers to connect with people who want to start companies and it’s a networking opportunity for startups, she said.
“Overall, it’s building up the entrepreneurial culture in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” she said.
She’ll be back this year.
“We’re looking forward to strengthening relationships, finding exciting people interested in starting new companies, both students and community members,” she said.
The expo is part of Khorassani’s mission to clarify the nature of entrepreneurship.
“I’m an economist, and we have a definition of efficiency. You punch the clock, produce so many widgets, but that’s an approach that encourages less thinking, more doing,” she said. “You have to do, do, do, like a robot, and not a very good robot. You can’t do that because you’ll be replaced by a machine.
“If I’m hiring, I want somebody who can think, I want to encourage creative thinking. That’s the competitive advantage in the market, that’s the mindset we’re going for.”