“The most gratifying feeling is when I’ve created something that other people are willing to buy.”
This was the sentiment El Pomar Chair of Business and Entrepreneurship Tom Duening shared at the 2022 launch of The Garage, the student entrepreneurship center at UCCS.
Whether you have a business or idea or are looking to apply your skills in a startup, The Garage is looking for students who are excited by the possibility of creating something new for the public to enjoy.
Luke Doster is the EPIIC Program and Outreach Administrator. Under this title, he oversees The Garage as the program director. Doster graduated from UCCS in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s in marketing.
“The Garage is a very early-stage startup incubator for businesses that have an idea or are a fledging business that want to grow in scale but aren’t exactly sure how, or just a business that wants a space to work with other people with similar mindsets and objects … it adds a more structured environment for entrepreneurs seeking a higher level of engagement in their business practices,” Doster said.
The Garage started in 2015 but shut down during COVID-19. The previous director of the program left the university a year ago. Under Doster’s direction, The Garage re-launched on Feb. 22.
“The program is new in the sense that I’m going to be changing a lot about it and making it more applicable to what people want to see. I am an alum of The Garage. I had a business in there when I was at school. I’d really like to bring back all of the features that the old Garage had and features that personally I felt would have been beneficial as a young entrepreneur,” he said.
Doster emphasized that The Garage is not just for business or Bachelor of Innovation students.
“The Garage is for people who have an idea and are not sure how to get started, or maybe they want to be an entrepreneur, but they don’t feel like they want that leadership role, or an idea creator and they want to come on board and are fantastic with finance,” Doster said. “We want to bring people on who are both business leaders and who are starting their businesses and people who want to join a start-up and take part in a different capacity.”
On his vision for The Garage, Doster said, “We really want to expand to other schools as well. In the past, it has been a lot of business students and a lot of BI schools, but we would love to have some nursing, engineering, psychology majors — all of those people, when brought together in the coworking space, create intersectional innovation.”
The main foundation of The Garage is the monthly progress pitch. Each month, every venture in The Garage is required to present a progress pitch.
“They will be asked, ‘what did you achieve in the previous month, what did you not achieve, why did you not achieve it, what are you wanting to achieve in the following month and what sort of things do you need help with.’ This is a vital part of The Garage and something that you work with your mentor to develop,” Doster said.
Students who join The Garage gain exclusive access to the Entrepreneur Lab and get assistance from UCCS mentors and business leaders from the community.
“In The Garage, when you join, you can either mentor with Terry Bolt or Tom Duening. Terry has technical expertise … Tom is more business oriented,” Doster said.
The mentors are open to meeting with participants as often as they would like, schedules permitting.
“We do have quite a few BI professors who come into The Garage. They are not official mentors in that capacity, but they are always willing to help and work with your business when they’re available. And then of course you have the other students in the Garage,” Doster said.
Though The Garage has been inactive for a few years, successful business ventures like Lot Spot have emerged.
Lot Spot Inc. was a project that came out of The Garage. “They were able to find venture funding and have since moved on. They are a cool project that helps people find parking spots,” Doster said. “There’s another guy who was in my cohort who is working on an engineering car kit for racecar drivers. He still meets with Tom periodically. The mentorship lasts as long as you want it to last.”
The Garage is located on the third floor of the Osborne Center in A-313