THE STORY SO FAR
by ty reifeis
It is Tuesday November 28, 2017. The trip is officially over, and we are all just now acclimating to real life again. It was a journey packed with unimaginable connections and unforgettable memories. The morning after meeting Caro in Hollywood, we drove to Santa Monica and stopped in at Cross Campus Co-Working. Nate greeted us at the front desk, and graciously allowed us to use a conference room for interviews. He then asked some entrepreneurs in the space if they would meet with us to chat about their experiences. We met with Chad and Alexander, who are the owners of Leaseful, a company aimed towards helping college students sublease their apartments or rooms. They told us of how they discovered the problem when they were students, and felt they could offer a solution. They talked about the highs & lows, and what it would mean for them to fail. Chad was extremely honest about the occasional doubt, and the small victories that continue to push them forward. They expanded on the sacrifices they’ve made to keep the business alive, and the vision they have for the future of Leaseful. As we drove from Santa Monica to Palo Alto, we were inspired and excited to embark on our own entrepreneurial journeys, much like Chad and Alexander’s.
We arrived in Palo Alto around 7 pm and met with Chris Greene, Western State Colorado University’s Entrepreneurship Guru. He was like our Gandalf, organizing the trip and meeting us along the way to assist in our journey. We spent the rest of the evening telling Chris all about the trip so far, and described the immense learning we’ve had along the way. After we all had sufficiently talked his ear off, we got some rest for the first day of the UIF conference at Google.
At Google headquarters, we gathered into a large conference room with all the other University Innovation Fellows (UIF). After completing some design challenges, Emi Kolawole spoke to the whole UIF group, talking about her experience as a Communications Director in the Silicon Valley. She offered to answer questions from the audience via a crowd sourced app. We posted a question saying, “We are making a documentary. Will you do an interview”. We didn’t even have time to type the question mark. We hit send, and then Tyler began running from table to table persuading the group to upvote our question. Within minutes, our question was at the top and Emi was addressing it. She read it aloud and large cheers came from our corner of the room. She explained that the company she works for is very careful on how her image is used, and we would need to send her the questions then wait to get the okay from her PR team. We felt excited about a potential opportunity to meet with Emi, but kept reserved as to not get our hopes up. We sent off the email with our interview questions before the day ended, and hoped to hear back soon.
By the next morning, Emi had responded saying she could meet with us and gave a date and time that she would be available. We were eager and enthusiastic to hear Emi’s story, and immediately confirmed the meeting. Then we headed out for the second day of the UIF conference at Stanford’s d.school. Through the many exciting UIF events and exercises, each of us were given the opportunity to meet and know the other Fellows at the conference. We learned from the other students’ experiences across the world, and discovered new ideas to bring back to Gunnison and WSCU. After a long day listening to guest speakers and making new acquaintances, we headed back to the hotel for some food and much needed rest.
On our last day of the UIF conference, we wanted to focus on some of the fascinating stories we had heard, and lock down interviews with the individuals behind these tales. First, we met with Lorenzo, who is a University Innovation Fellow from Cal State Fullerton. He is also a start-up owner and a community leader. He told us about his experiences in entrepreneurship, and the hardships this kind of life can bring. He explained how he became a sushi chef to make ends meet while continuing to push his entrepreneurial endeavors. He spoke with elegance, and gave extensive insight to his involvement in the start-up scene. After thanking Lorenzo for his time, we exchanged information and vowed to keep in contact. Following the powerful interview with Lorenzo, we sat down with Asya, a University Innovation Fellow from Colorado School of Mines. She spoke about the role of engineering in innovation and entrepreneurship, and what it means to fail in that realm. She had tremendous insight on entrepreneurship in Denver, and explained what meant to her to be an entrepreneur. Her interview was an excellent way for us to end our experience at the UIF conference. We made friends who will last a lifetime, and now have connections all over the world. As we drove from Palo Alto to San Francisco, we were thrilled with the unbelievable stories and relationships we’ve built along our journey. We settled into our San Fran hotel room, buzzing with excitement for our interview with Emi quickly approaching with the morning sun.
There was an appreciative energy amongst each of us as we awoke in our San Francisco hotel room. We felt blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet with such incredible people along our quest. We loaded up the car, tested the camera and audio equipment, and embarked on the road to meet with Emi in Mountainview California. Emi greeted us immediately as we arrived at the filming location. She was friendly, and receptive as we asked our questions. She expanded on the idea of failure, and mentioned how the pain of failing is often overlooked. Emi was candid on the importance of community within the entrepreneurial world. She told us an inspiring story of her mentor, and left us with the idea that nothing is guaranteed, so the only thing you can do is try. Her words danced around our ears, and lifted us with a feeling of gratitude and motivation. It sounded like poetry as she spoke, allowing for a charming insight into the world of innovation and entrepreneurship. We thanked Emi for her time and insight, then hit the trail to our next destination.
We awoke the next morning in Reno on Thursday November 23rd. Better known as Thanksgiving. There was so much for us to be appreciative of. We felt blessed to go Western State Colorado University, a school that supports hands on learning such as this trip. We felt blessed to have this opportunity to embark on this journey with such amazing friends. We felt blessed to research into the world of entrepreneurship, and view how it is making positive changes in people’s lives. But most of all, we felt blessed to meet such incredibly inspiring people along the way. When day grew to night, and our bellies grew hungry we decided to have a Thanksgiving feast together, as a new family of entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving buffet dinner at our hotel was a five hour wait with no guarantee any food would be left over. We quickly pivoted away from the buffet line, and found ourselves enjoying a delightful Mexican feast. After laughter and stories, we all talked about what we are thankful for, then headed back to the room to get some rest for our final day in Salt Lake City.
We didn’t have any plans or meetings in Salt Lake, however we still wanted to make the most of our final day and get some good footage. After some discussions about the film, we decided to search for an artistic element of entrepreneurship that could be a beneficial addition to our film. After some research, we found Diabolical Records. As we walked through the doors, we were kindly greeted by Adam Tye. Adam started Diabolical with his wife to give an outlet to the artists and creators who inspire them. Adam talked about why he chose the grind of owning and operating a record store, and told about how important the music community is to him. He told us that he could either make no money doing something he doesn’t enjoy, or he could make no money doing what he loves. He chose the latter option. His appreciation for the artists and the audiences who enjoy this art was moving, and his passion for his business was inspiring. As we gathered our belongings, Adam told us about a concert that was happening at Diabolical that evening. There were two touring bands and one local band who would be playing the show. We committed to coming back to catch the performances, and thanked him for his time. We then hit the road once again to explore more of Salt Lake City.
When we returned to Diabolical, we were quickly welcomed by the music of the Seatcats. They had a unique sound, and captivated the audience with their melody. We all looked at each other in amazement of this rare experience in Salt Lake. After sufficiently rocking out with the Seacats, we approached them to see if they would talk with us about their experiences. Mike and Josh agreed, and met us around the corner from the record shop to record an interview. They were humble about their journey as a band, and offered incredible insight to the life of traveling musicians. They spoke about the passion for the art & community and how the small successes continue to push them forward. They were honest about the hardships and explained their unique entrepreneurial viewpoint. As we headed back to our hotel, conversations stirred about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how these new ideas will play into our future.
When we awoke the next morning, we hit the pavement toward Grand Junction with a sense of completion and gratitude.
Special Thanks To:
Amanda Zackem, Steve & Stacy, Matthew Victory from The Second Spirit, Rachael Montoya, Kelly Etter from Etter Business Management Services, Morgan Brass from Downtown Works, Ace Baker, David from Rise Costa Rica, Terri Lane from Patagonia, Chad Kehoe from Leaseful, Alexander of Leaseful ,Jacob Miller, Moises from UIF, Emi Kolawole, Maddie from UIF, Jake from UIF, Chili from UIF, Lorenzo Santos from UIF, Asya Sergoya from UIF, David Fink, Felipe Garate from UIF, Diana Bechdol from UIF, Tim Straus from UIF, Theodore Zipoy from UIF, Erika Storvick from UIF, Drew Spooner from UIF, Sean Far from UIF, Sam Warach from UIF, Connor McCormack from UIF, Emma May from UIF, Vanessa Ganaden from UIF, Kevin McCracken from Social Imprints, Miguel Flores from Social Imprints, Nate Quaresma from Cross Campus, Patrick & Rigel from Luxpitality, Johnny Johnson from Surfclass.com & Johnny’s Porridge, Errol G. Asuncion from Industry.co, Humera Fasihuddin from UIF, Katie Dzugan from UIF, Pete Sherman from Western State Colorado University (WSCU), David Ratner from the Creative Law Network, Chris Green from WSCU, Caro Krissman, Tom & Catherine Miller from WSCU and the Lift Office, Alex Jackson from WSCU, Lauren Echevarria from WSCU, Western State Colorado Student Government Association, Western State Colorado Inter Club Counsel, Adam Tye from Diabolical Records, Mike and Josh from Seacats, Chipper Bro from Patagonia, Jeffery Dykes from WSCU
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News about the film's release will be posted as soon as information is available.