Entrepreneurs at ASU: Reforging the Road to Success

There’s a new trend for the brightest young business minds of today. Skip the traditional method of working your way up the business ladder, found an exciting new business instead and you’re already on top.

For entrepreneur Mark Sholin, this is a reality.

Sholin graduated with his Chemical Engineering B.S. in 2010 from the University of Arizona and entered a Ph.D. program at ASU. While working as a research associate in the BioDesign Institute a certain technology called ARBCell captured his interest and this lead to the founding of ARBSource in August 2011.

The ARBCell is a treatment method for water that is cost and energy efficient. Organic waste in water from a high production facility, such as a potato chip factory, is degraded and eliminated using organisms and a unique reactor design. In the end the water is clean and the process produces hydrogen gas which can be sold or used by the company.

“What I like to say is that ARBSource transforms wastewater treatment from a costly liability into a valuable resource,” Sholin said.

ARBSource, though still pre-revenue, has already been noticed. It is being supported by the ASU Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative with a $10,000 investment and it is a finalist in the CleanTech Open, a worldwide competition for cleantech startup businesses.

The CleanTech finals will be held in San Jose, Calif. November 15 and 16. To win the $250,000 prize, ARBSource must beat out 20 other companies.

Sholin credits his company’s success to the young and enthusiastic team behind ARBSource as well as their older, more experienced advisors.

“At CleanTech we were the youngest by far,” Sholin said. “But we show that we’re knowledgeable and credible.”

Being young, in fact, is a benefit, Sholin said. As long as the team stays “leveraged by experienced advisors” youth will make the business more memorable.

Josh Hottenstein, the Arizona director for the CleanTech Open, has worked directly with Sholin and praises the start up. He worked to pair ARBSource with mentors who would be able to foster the newly formed business’ growth.

“CleanTech works to find, fund and foster clean technology entrepreneurs,” Hottenstein said. “Even though it is a competition, we work with every contestant to be their advocate and connect them with mentors in the field.”

Hottenstein said that ARBSource has what a start up needs: a sellable product, unique hook and a solid team.

“There are a lot of ideas in Arizona,” Hottenstein said. “I try to connect them with resources to turn them into a company.”

Will Curran, a senior at ASU and colleague of Sholin’s, said the two of them often brainstorm together about how to build their businesses.

Curran founded and runs Arizona Pro DJs, a business that delivers high quality entertainers and music to events such as birthday parties and High School dances.

“We bring concert and club elements to events,” Curran said.

Curran is a two time ASU Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative award recipient and couldn’t be more thankful for the help it gave.

“Edson was huge,” Curran said. “We were able to use that money toward expensive equipment we needed.”

Both Sholin and Curran agree that ASU and the resources it provides was a huge boon to their businesses.

“The learning curve for me and ARBSource was accelerated by ASU’s resources,” Sholin said

“It’s important to utilize all resources, and ASU has tons of them,” Curran said.

ASU’s effort spent on creating an atmosphere that encourages and supports student entrepreneurship has definitely paid off in the cases of Sholin and Curran. Now it’s time to see who will succeed next.


Tennis hosts final fall tournament

The ASU women’s tennis team prepares to finish the fall tennis season this weekend at the 17th Annual Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational.

Last year senior Kelcy McKenna defeated Northwestern’s sophomore Belinda Niu 7-5, 6-2 to win the tournament.

This year the team looks to garner success as they head into a break before spring tournaments.

“The challenge is to translate what we do in practice into the tournament,” coach Sheila McInerney said.

Since faltering at the ITA Regional tournament in October, the team has been practicing vigorously to fix their flaws.

“The practices have been going well,” McInerney said. “We’re working on specific things.”

Read the full article here.

Sugar Skulls: El Dia de los Muertos in Mesa

Clickclick. Clickclick. Loud music pumps into the air as stilt-walkers with their faces painted to look like friendly skulls and dressed in traditional Mexican clothing noisily make their way down a pathway filled with adults and children.

Tables with bright plastic table clothes are lined with bracelets made from skull beads, ghoulish masks and wood panels painted to depict scenes from long ago. A little boy eyes the skeleton figures that look like morbid action figures.

Every year the Mesa Arts Center hosts a free El Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, festival in late October. This festival is both informative and entertaining, appealing to children and adults.

Diana Hollinshead came to the festival with her granddaughter. She heard about the festival through a friend and thought it sounded like a fun weekend activity.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” Hollinshead said. “I didn’t know much about the Day of the Dead before but this has been really interesting.”

Dr. Carmen King de Ramirez, Clinical Assistant Professor of Spanish at ASU, believes that despite Day of the Dead celebrations recently becoming more popular in the United States, many still don’t fully understand the meaning behind the holiday.

“I believe that we have a long way to go in educating the public about the symbolism of the Day of the Dead as a holiday that celebrates death as natural part of the life cycle that should be embraced and not feared,” Ramirez said.

Instead of the Day of the Dead being a dark and scary holiday, Ramirez said that it is a joyful celebration of the earthly lives of loved ones who are now dead.

The roots of this holiday can be found in a mixture of traditions from indigenous Mexican and European cultures.

“Mexican people have fused together the religious aspect of the holiday and folkloric traditions by celebrating the day with festivals, parades, dances and music,” Ramirez said.

Festivals such as the one hosted at the Mesa Arts Center are a way to share the rich cultural traditions of Mexico.

Rhona Jenkins and Denise Peterson volunteered their time to make sure the festival operated smoothly.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years,” Peterson said. “It’s a nice way to help the community.”

Since the festival has had previous success there isn’t difficulty finding people to help, Jenkins said.

“We show up in the morning and are put where there’s need,” Jenkins said.

Some volunteers sit at tables and answer questions, some pick up garbage, and much more.

The festival offers many different attractions, but apparently there is a favorite.

“The sugar skull decorating booth,” Peterson said, and Jenkins nodded and smiled.

It must be true: nearly every group of visitors walking around the festival had at least one decorated sugar skull, held carefully in a paper box, in their possession and along with it new found knowledge about El Dia de los Muertos.

Tennis falters at ITA Regional

The weekend in San Diego proved disappointing for the ASU tennis team.

“We didn’t get the results we wanted or needed,” Coach Sheila McInerney said.

Play started at the ITA Southwestern Regional on a high note Thursday with senior Michelle Brycki and junior Hannah James both earning singles victories.

Brycki, who was seeded ninth in the tournament, defeated Jordan Dockendorf of UCSB 6-4, 6-3. James took USD’s Maria Raygada in two sets, going 6-0, 6-2.

In doubles play, the pair of junior Nicole Smith and freshman Joanna Smith defeated Anais Dallara and Karolina Rozenberg LBSU, 8-6.

Read the full article here.

Tennis heads to Regionals

The Sun Devils compete in the ITA Regional Championships in San Diego, Calif. starting Thursday.

Tennis coach Sheila McInerney said practices have been going well and the team is excited to win.

“We’ve got a test this week,” McInerney said.

Read the full article here.