Millennials, Entrepreneurship and Innovation – The Perfect Combo

Building Their Own Ladder for Success

After watching their parents put in long, hard days to climb the corporate ladder only to be downsized, right-sized or outsourced, few Millennials have the desire to repeat that path and instead are opting to define and build their own ladder to the top. A survey by Bentley University, showed 66% of Millennials had goals to start their own business. They want to succeed but understand the work-life balance they desire can often only be found by starting their own business.

Flexibility is another core driver for these young entrepreneurs. Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials are not afraid to work hard – the Bentley study found 77% of those surveyed believed flexible hours would allow for more productive environments, not less productivity. This is largely due to tech-savvy nature of this group – almost all who have smartphones and are “always-on” – making work no longer just a 9 to 5 occurrence – but blended into their personal world too.

A Spirit of Innovation

As the first digitally native generation, these business innovators have seen an era of unprecedented development that impacts their everyday life. It’s no wonder that Millennials view innovation as a standard way of living and are rigorously involved in pursuing innovative solutions to solve today’s challenges.

Combine innovation with today’s highly connected world, and these young entrepreneurs have access to nearly everything needed to start their own business. Millennials are unafraid to kick-start their next new venture and are seizing the relatively easy opportunity to take their innovative spirit to the next level.

According to Fred Tuffile, Bentley University Director of Entrepreneurial Studies, “Millennials are realizing that starting a company, even if it crashes and burns, teaches them more in two years than sitting in a cubicle for 20 years.”

Driven Through Purpose

Millennials believe, however, that innovation plays more of a role than simply adding to a company’s bottom line. According to Deloitte’s Third Annual Millennial Study, 80 percent of Millennials view business innovation as positively impacting society and providing a launch pad for new ideas. Driven by the need for purpose and meaning in their careers, Millennial entrepreneurs tends to see the world through a very different lens than the generation before them: don’t just take what you can from the world while you’re here… leave the world and (everyone you meet) better than you found it.

Millennials find opportunities to positively impact the world around them that are tied to their business or workplace highly rewarding and effective. According to the Deloitte study, 77 percent of respondents were involved in a charity or “good cause”:

  • 40 percent follow or take an active interest, e.g., via social media
  • 30 percent are active volunteers/organizers
  • 30 percent provide support by becoming a member/making a regular donation
  • 23 percent help raise money by sponsorship, organizing a collection or by other means

Regardless of the type of business Millennials begin, there are ways to tie purpose and meaning back to the mission. Avnet for example, has built a culture of purpose by using technology “to make the world a better place to live, work and play, and has taken a clear stand against modern slavery and human trafficking.” Other global brands such as Google, Microsoft, Intel, Hasbro and Campbell Soup have long been known for their corporate responsibility programs and have built entire cultures around purpose and giving back.

With an innate, tech-savvy ability, a passion for entrepreneurship, and a compelling inner drive to give back and leave the world a better place, Millennials may truly be the perfect combination of inspiration and innovation that can create positive changes in the world like we’ve never seen before in history.

5 Skills You Have to Master to Become a Successful Student Entrepreneur

You’ve heard the headlines before…Mark Zuckerberg, then student entrepreneur, launches Facebook; or Evan Spiegel launches Snapchat as a college student. Both are student entrepreneurs and billionaires today.

Taking that jump to become a student entrepreneur yourself can be an exciting but scary adventure. There is so much excitement during this journey, yet there are so many challenges.

How do you know that you have what it takes to make your student start-up a success? Here are 5 skills you’ll need to master to become a successful student entrepreneur:

1. Leadership – From pre- to post-launch, you are your start-up’s leader out of the gate. There is potential that you could go from a few person team to managing more than a dozen staff in a short period of time. Some leaders are born and some require learning these skills. From setting an organizational tone to establishing the company’s strategic vision, there are several leadership competency skills that are critical to your success. Don’t forget demonstrating a strong confidence level is key to serving as your brand’s strategic leader.

2. Financial Management – Having strong levels of financial acumen is crucial to the success of your start-up. It will be important to know your financial priorities. Establishing budgets for operational expenses, marketing costs, staffing subsidies and capital expenses are all necessary. Conducting financial analysis will also benefit your start-up. Your ability to manage finances will additionally be an important factor in the eyes of your investors.

3. Communication – Clear communication is fundamental to your success. There are many complexities in the communication arena. Setting up an organizational communication plan is expected. Communication is also a key part of your marketing efforts and how you communicate with your audiences and employees is extremely important to your start-up’s success.

4. Adaptability – Let’s face it, you won’t be bringing years of experience to the table at the beginning of your start-up. But knowing how to adapt in several areas is important. The technology industry is an area that adaptability is essential. Scaling your business and managing your start-up’s growth will require agility and adaptability as well. Being adaptable will help you to deal with the unpredictable and the unknown!

5. GRIT – Where passion meets persistence! In today’s corporate world, you’ll need more than just intelligence and raw talent. Carrying out long-term goals requires stamina and ongoing enthusiasm. Professionals who have perseverance and who can self-regulate usually have the GRIT necessary for long-term, soaring success!

So, when you’re ready to light it up as a student entrepreneur and become the next Mark Zuckerberg, take these skills out of your toolkit and GO FOR IT!

Avnet continues our commitment to developing a dynamic and committed workforce and helping startups with venture development opportunities. For more on how Avnet can help your hardware startup innovate and chart a plan for growth, visit

5 Expert Tips for Starting a Business on a College Student’s Budget

Free or Low Cost Ways to Get Your Great Business Idea Off the Ground While on a Ramen Budget

College students are well positioned to start their business – they are agile, innovative, flexible and technology savvy. However, many students are scared off by the lack the financial resources – thinking it takes a great deal of capital to get their business started. However, with the access to school and community programs, as well as a wealth of online resources, you can be free to spread your entrepreneurial wings without being chained by debt.

Here are five ways you can kick start your student business on a tight budget:

1. Seek Out Mentorships – Local colleges and universities are a great resource to help students flesh out their ideas and spark their entrepreneurial spirit. Mentors available through the program can be instrumental in helping you build your business and guide you through each step of the way.

Many colleges have formal entrepreneurial programs that can connect you with community programs and leaders. An example is Arizona State University’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation Organization, which provides everything from learning resources and programs to events and experts within the school and the community that can help you get your business launched.

However, even if your university doesn’t have a formal program, professors and advisors are often well connected and can introduce you to local mentors. College clubs and area meet-ups also provide a great way to find mentors relevant to your business idea.

2. Setup and Protect Your Business Online – Creating your business plan is an important first step – serving as your road map for your new business. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free business plan builder. Or if you are looking to pitch to investors and need a more robust plan, there are several online services where you can pay a small monthly fee to develop your plan, strategy, pitch, forecast and budget.

Once it’s time to set up your business, you can accomplish most everything online. Most states offer the ability to form your limited liability corporation (LLC) through the state Corporation Commission. The site will walk you through the process and the charge is typically well under $100 depending on your specific state.

In some cases, there is a huge benefit to registering your Intellectual Property (IP) as early as you can. And while patent attorneys and the process for a thorough patent search can be timely and expensive (albeit necessary for larger or highly competitive markets), you can start with a simple registration process for trademarks, copyrights and patents through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. The site also provides resources to help you determine which type of IP protection is most suitable for your business.

3. Leverage Expert Resources for Hardware Prototypes – Avnet offers a range of assembly and development kits and tools to help you prototype your hardware or software design. Technology Solutions experts can also collaborate with you to make your vision come to life. Community groups offer another great resource for building out your prototype. Examples include: Element14, a large community of engineers and developers with tools and kits, including Raspberry Pi;, some of the newest hardware platforms on the market with many open source user projects and contests; and, a new, growing community of service providers focused on the electronics space that can help early stage customers find the assistance they need.

In addition to these resources, there are often tech centers available on campus where you can rent time and equipment to build the prototype yourself or find freelance support to help you with the project.

4. Utilize Free or Low Cost Website Builders – It has never been easier to build and launch your website! Google free website builders and you will come up with a laundry list of different solutions. In the past, building a quality site would have set you back several thousands of dollars, but with a wealth of free or low cost templates, you can easily get your site up and running in just a matter of hours. Plus, when it’s time to add or change your content – you can easily do it yourself without having to rely on technical experts! What more could you ask for?

5. Leverage Social Media for Marketing – Gone are the days of multi-million dollar budgets that were needed to get your business in front of your customers and generating revenue. Today, marketing your new business can start the same way as the post you just created about what you are doing right now! Start out by creating business pages on each of the major social media sites – focus on the top 5 or 6 social sites to start. Then, build your social media followers by targeting your end users and industry influencers by creating relevant content and images that drive them to use your product or visit your website.

Hopefully these tips for kick starting your new business – without sacrificing your next meal to pay for it – will help you on your path to entrepreneurship.

7 Steps to Evaluate if Your Startup Business Idea is a Hero or a Zero

It Takes More Than Just a Good Idea for Your Startup to Become a Reality

Do you have what it takes to start a successful venture? The world of entrepreneurship is an exciting one. The thought of becoming a hero in the startup environment is both inspiring and scary at the same time.

We are all surrounded with products we use every day that at one time was just an idea in someone’s mind. So, what is the difference between which products make it to market and which ones fail? Here are 7 Steps to evaluate whether your idea is one that can overcome the many challenges of a business startup:

1. Determine if you have right skills and industry knowledge. If your skills are polar opposite of the skills and knowledge needed, it might not be a good idea to move forward. You may determine that you need to brush up on some of the skills needed or gain the knowledge to make sure your business is a success. Whatever the case, taking an honest look at your skills is a brave but necessary thing to do.

2. Identify the “who” and the problem you’re solving with your product. You might have a crazy good idea and you just know that your product will sell, but what if there is little to zero interest in the marketplace? What if it’s really a solution looking for a problem?

One of the most important steps is to identify your target audience and if your product meets an unmet need. Whether you conduct a simple survey, put up a basic single web page and run an inexpensive ad test, or go more full-scale on your market research, this step is critical and not only can, but will, be a make or break situation for your success.

3. Develop a business plan. So, you have this idea that you are just giddy about, you’ve tested there’s market interest, then you’ll likely be seeing dollar signs in your eyes. What is the next step? How do you go from the idea to bringing your product to market? The answer to that very question lies in one document, your business plan.

Whether you create a one page business plan, draft a full blown plan, or get strategy help from an expert mentor, be sure that you don’t create a business plan that is just shelved. This plan should be the blueprint for how you get from concept to launch and beyond, guiding you each step, both strategically and tactically. Over time it will evolve, but setting an initial plan—and then executing against it—is imperative. Any potential new team members, mentors or investors will also ask for it before getting involved.

4. Conduct research on your competitors. Knowing who else is selling the same product is a critical success factor. Where are they located? What markets do they serve? Who are their audiences? What about their price points? Where are there holes in their product, messaging or strategy?

These are all critical questions you will need answers to before moving forward. Not so youcan copy their approach, but so you can learn from it. Maybe there are messaging, brand or marketing tactics you can emulate but improve upon in the process. Maybe they are the perfect example of what not to do. There’s unless learning from a competitive assessment, so take it seriously and again—get expert mentorship or help if needed. Even large global companies often provide expert services to help you design products, determine the appropriate channels, map out your necessary supply chain logistics, and can give you expert mentorship that may help you avoid critical mistakes or expedite decisions and go to market more than you ever thought possible.

5. Seek out a good team. Who you surround yourself with will be one of the most important steps in your success. Startup leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg surrounded themselves with innovators. They all claim it was integral to their success – not only from the networking and collaboration aspects, but also from the creativity angle about what could be possible, even though it had never been done before.

Think out of the box when defining your ‘team.’ It’s not just you, co-founders and support staff as you grow – it’s also experts from your community, possibly investors willing to mentor you, influencers in the media, and anyone else you decide to surround yourself with. Getting the right people in the right seats is one of the hardest jobs for any startup, but is also one of the most important, and notably, a core driver of your success. Your radar should be up 24/7 for talented people who are a good fit for your startup, complementing your skill set, and filling gaps you’re willing to admit you have. Where those gaps exist in your team, trusted partners are also a critical resource – providing expertise in their specific fields, eliminating the need to pay for a full-time resource in-house.

6. Find a coach or mentor. Finding someone who has experienced success of their own is important to your success as an entrepreneur. But don’t just find any mentor willing to give you time, seek out a specific mentor you identify who can offer you insight into your product set, markets or other aspects of your startup business based on their own experience.There are many pitfalls and challenges that can be avoided by talking to someone who has guided a successful venture, and learning them early can save you months if not years. There’s no shame in learning from someone else’s successes and failures and using that knowledge to expedite your own startup journey.

7. Set up your business. Now that you’ve gone through the steps to determine if your business startup can be successful, it’s time to set up shop. Obtaining your business license and all appropriate registrations is the start of one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have! There are many trusted resources for learning all of the necessary steps for starting a business, including the legal and accounting aspects you need early on to have the credibility required to launch and pitch to both potential customers and investors down the line.

If you’re working on concepts for a hardware-based new venture, be sure to review Avnet resources that can help you expedite learning the ins-and-outs of manufacturing, logistics and much more. Their global reach not only means economies of scale, it means building a relationship with an industry leader that can help at nearly every step of your hardware startup journey. For more on how Avnet can help your hardware startup innovate and plan for growth, visit

The 3 W’s of the ASU Innovation Open & Why Student Entrepreneurs Should Care


Are you ready to see your peers compete for a chance to win $100,000?

You may be wondering what all the talk of the 2018 ASU Innovation Open is about and why you should care. Here are the 3 W’s and the most exciting part is there are 100,000 reasons why you should care, read on…

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