Ideas are like seeds. You need to plant them, then give them the right attention so they can have the opportunity to germinate and grow tall and strong.
At Mason, opportunities to nurture each idea seedling are available through a range of programs and services, and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship within the School of Business has led the way. The center has served as a hub of entrepreneurship at Mason offering something for everyone including mentorship, funding, student groups, an incubator, and academic courses.
In short, George Mason’s School of Business is dedicated to entrepreneurship.
And it starts with the dedication of faculty. At the front of the pack you’ll find David Miller. Miller has his hands in all things entrepreneurship at Mason. His official titles include executive director for the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE), director of the Mason Innovation Lab, director of campus entrepreneurship and also assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Mason’s School of Business.
Miller’s dedication comes from a love of entrepreneurship and many years in the field.
He has been part of multiple new ventures throughout the past 15 years, most recently serving as the founder and CEO of FamilyFantasySports.com, an online platform for family-friendly fantasy football. He also co-founded the Creative Class Group (CCG), which develops new product service creation and strategy. As the COO of CCG, he oversaw the development and implementation of the Creative Cities Leadership Project, educating and leading more than 200 social innovators and 30 social ventures in various U.S. and world cities.
An entrepreneur at heart, Miller also loves to help other entrepreneurs. He has been a full-time faculty member at the School of Business for the past three and a half years but has been at Mason even longer. He first came to Mason as a PhD student in entrepreneurship. At the time (and still today), his focus was on high growth startups created by students at U.S. universities, exploring the campus entrepreneurial ecosystem and how it impacts the creation of student founded firms such as Facebook, Under Armour, Teach for America, Google, Lyft, and many more.
His time at Mason has led him to one important conclusion: Mason students make great entrepreneurs.
“Our students—their willingness to work hard, take on challenges, and create their own paths to success really sets them apart,” said Miller. “I have had thousands of experiences in my years at Mason that have impacted me. Almost all of them include students and recent alumni and their willingness to learn and take action.”
The entrepreneurship ecosystem that Miller has developed at Mason has had impressive results in a short time.
· Two Mason Innovation Lab teams have performed well in national innovation and business competitions.
· OnYou, a magnetic smartphone case designed for active people went to the semifinals of the Cupid's Cup.
· Iron Goat Tech, which created a self-fueled harvester that produces agricultural products, won the MIT Clean Energy Prize in 2016. Iron Goat has also received funding from the Department of Energy and GE Ventures.
Mason students haven’t just taken advantage of the resources available to them like entrepreneurship courses and programs Miller has created. They’ve also helped build the innovative culture at Mason by launching student groups such as Mason Changemakers and running the university-wide makerspace—MIX@InnovationHall.
“We've had students win scholarships to study entrepreneurship and others get great jobs. Very importantly, we've seen people actually build impactful businesses,” said Miller.
Local innovators and entrepreneurs have taken notice as well.
Miller explained, “We've been fortunate to work with amazing regional leaders that mentor us and support our programs. Also, the openness of regional institutions such as 1776, Make Offices, Under Armour and others have been incredibly generous with their talent, spaces and more.”
At the end of the day, Miller says it’s all about the students and helping them realize their vision of the future.