Before entering my senior year at the University of Utah in 2016, the brand new Lassonde Studios building was completed and opened to students. From the first time I heard about the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and saw the building, I instantly knew I had to be involved.
That school year I completely and totally immersed myself in the Lassonde Institute and the impressive services it offered. I even continued to stay involved in the institute after my graduation in the spring of 2017 because there was still so much left to be gained! It was because of Lassonde that I was able to build, and in the fall of 2017, successfully launch my current company, Big Red Jelly, a digital marketing company that combines applied creativity with powerful online tools to accelerate growth for businesses.
Starting Big Red Jelly
After working in the agency space for a few years, I began to feel that current agencies had way too much ambiguity and were often overpriced. My entrepreneurial instincts kicked in, and I started designing an agency that was efficient, proactive, result-oriented, and creatively awesome — which is exactly what we’re doing at Big Red Jelly today.
The Power of Mentors
The university experience is unique in that you are surrounded by similarly aged individuals, gathered together to learn. Lassonde magnifies that experience by being a place where you are surrounded by colleagues who want to learn, collaborate, build, and create! During the beginning stages of Big Red Jelly, I heavily relied on those connections I gained from Lassonde.
Mentorships played, and continue to play, a vital role in growing my company. When building my business, I was constantly picking the brains of Thad Kelling, Anne Bastien, and Troy D’Ambrosio with the Lassonde Institute because without fail, every time I spoke with them I learned something I could implement into my startup.
Another phenomenal resource I utilized often was Lassonde’s Hours on Experts, where you can listen and ask questions to a visiting entrepreneur and business owner. I attended as many of these as I could because just being able to talk to fellow entrepreneurs was such a huge motivator for me. No matter if they were just doing it as a side gig, or pouring their whole life savings into it, it was so inspiring to see people actually doing it and going after their ideas!
A general misconception of the business world is that it’s ultra-competitive and everyone is your competition. However, while they are your competitors, it is extremely beneficial and even healthy to work with them! There is so much to be gained from each other. I am a strong believer in partnering with other organizations because it not only advances your business and theirs — but the entire industry!
Advice for Student Entrepreneurs
If I could give one piece of advice to current and future entrepreneurs attending a university, it would be to find fellow “doers.” Involve yourself in extracurricular activities! And I don’t mean join the intramural team — I mean join groups like Lassonde where you are gaining real-world experience, launching startups, growing your network, and connecting with mentors every … single … day.
Lassonde provided me with the opportunity to actually apply things I was learning in the classroom — sometimes even that same day — and that was by far the most rewarding thing I did during my university years that has helped me achieve success today. It’s one thing to learn something impactful in the classroom, it’s another to then walk across campus and apply the principle in your startup and see the market react, vote, buy, turn down, etc. in real time!
A Note of Thanks to Lassonde
I am passionate about the work I am doing with Big Red Jelly in both the creative and digital spaces. No day is ever the same and I absolutely love it. This year we are celebrating Big Red Jelly’s five-year anniversary and this milestone has prompted a lot of reflection for me and how I and the company have arrived at where we are today. I can only thank Lassonde and my mentors for helping me develop Big Red Jelly and inspiring me every step of the way. The culture at Big Red Jelly will ALWAYS be indebted and ingrained with gratitude to the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.