An Entrepreneurial Mindset
For MBA student London White, attending NC State was an easy choice — in fact, he is on his way to earning his third degree from the Poole College of Management. We asked White about his entrepreneurial ventures and why NC State was the right choice for him both as a student and as a donor.
Can you tell us about the research you are working on this summer? What are you hoping to accomplish or learn?
After earning a bachelor’s in business management in 2007, I came back to NC State for an accounting degree in 2016 to help growing businesses find the funding they need to succeed. When I saw the program that NC State had developed for entrepreneurship, I knew that I needed to become a part of the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Program. I hoped to learn what helps a company bridge the gap from start-up to small business to enterprise.
I research industries pursuing applications for patented technologies owned by NC State. I also research businesses that seek funding from the Wolfpack Investor Network. This experience is invaluable. I see different business models, in different industries, and evaluate their strategies and key differentiators in real markets.
You earned three first-place awards as a founder of VieMetrics at this year’s Lulu eGames. What is the goal of VieMetrics, and what led you to start this venture?
I am not an idea person. VieMetrics and VitalFlo were the outcome of discussions with my partners and fellow NC State students, James Dieffenderfer, Eric Beppler and Charles Hood. James had developed VitalFlo, a handheld monitor that helps people gauge their breathing. He asked for help to write a business plan for the product. Our business plan is what allowed us to do so well in the competition.
My partners wanted to stay in the lab and create more cool technologies, so VieMetrics was born. Our goal is to bring ideas to life. We offer engineering and business skills to move products from inception to market. VieMetrics Inc. currently serves clients creating prototypes for research applications, medical devices and consumer products.
You also received second place at the Lulu eGames for SaKaroTec, which is a venture that could revolutionize the blood supply industry. How did you become interested in this industry?
The technology behind SaKaroTec is possibly the most exciting innovation I have looked at. To be honest, I saw “cryopreservation” on the patent, pictured Mr. Freeze in my head and knew I had to research the possible applications. Luckily, I had two NC State engineers, Karthik Narasimhan and Scott Frazee, to help me understand the technical aspects and the lifesaving benefits of better blood availability through preservation of red blood cells.
What is the most common misconception about your research or field of study?
Most people have a stereotype “entrepreneur” in their mind — someone extroverted, charismatic and inspirational. People think that if you don’t have this personality, then you can’t be an entrepreneur. It’s nonsense. I’ve interacted with business owners with many personality types. Creating a great business does take passion, but the passion comes from a belief that the world needs their product or service, not their personality.
Additionally, I think many people think an entrepreneur is someone who has this great idea. Great businesses have a great team of people working together toward a common goal. Start-ups are no different. The first thing I look at when evaluating a business is the team; an individual cannot do it all.
What do you find most fascinating about your research or field of study?
The most fascinating thing to me is the boundless creativity that these innovations represent. Many technologies that I see stem from simple ideas. Why isn’t there a solution for this problem? The creative ways different companies try to address the problem are fascinating. And trying to evaluate which solution will “win” in the marketplace is the most interesting puzzle I can think of.
In addition to working toward your MBA, you earned two bachelor’s degrees from the Poole College of Management. You are also a PCOM donor. What makes PCOM and NC State the right choice for you?
I came to NC State because the campus atmosphere seemed to fit. I was either going here or to the blue school, and a tour of each made the choice clear. NC State has a great master’s program in accounting, but it also had the right undergraduate accounting courses to allow me to sit for the CPA exam. The TEC program in the Jenkins MBA school is truly unique. Only a handful of programs in the country help students create start-ups. There are even fewer areas like the Triangle that offer so much support for start-ups. In one year, I have helped launch three businesses and consulted with others. I don’t think any other program in the world would have afforded me the same opportunities. I choose to donate to support the college and ensure that these innovative programs continue.
Editor’s note: These answers have been edited for clarity and style.