A crowd of nearly 300 high school students from around Montana, dressed in their best business attire, crowded outside the SUB Ballrooms the morning of Oct. 8, to MSU to attend The Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship (JJCBE) Entrepreneur Day.
The event included workshops with JJCBE faculty and students, a campus tour and a keynote address by the founder of the outdoor “lifestyle” company fourOsix. “We hope Entrepreneur Day inspires [students] to pursue their passions and become the leaders of tomorrow,” said one of the event organizers Audrey Lee, Director of Communications & Public Relations for JJCBE.
Driven by his passions for the outdoors and inspired by his love for Montana, Alex ‘Papu’ Rincon is a model entrepreneur for Montana students. Dressed in a newsboy cap and a trendy gray button-down, he recounted to event attendees his path from an aimless, outdoor enthusiast at Carroll College to his current success.
Since opening his store in Helena, Rincon has been honored as a “Champion of Change” by the White House and as Montana’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the US Small Business Adminstration. However, Rincon does not seem to be in it for the accolades, but instead because of his love for Montana. This sentiment is reflected by fourOsix’s slogan, “Love where you live.”
In college, Rincon studied business and graphic design, but admits he did not have a plan.
[pullquote align=”right”]“Starting a business is a big question mark. You can reduce that question by getting the education.” — Alex “Papu” Rincon[/pullquote]
“Students [attending the address] were inspired when they learned that the keynote didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life during college but eventually figured it out and created a very successful business,” said Lee.
“Learn as much as you can before you do it,” advised Rincon, “Starting a business is a big question mark. You can reduce that question by getting the education.”
Now, with a store in Helena that doubles as a gallery and music venue, Rincon considers the business a success and has plans to grow. It is important to Rincon that fourOsix support the lifestyle and culture he enjoys. FourOsix, the website explains, is a “lifestyle shop that promotes art, music, style, forward thinking & Montana living” by hosting local artists, businesses and athletes.
The business also supports Rincon’s personal lifestyle. The metaphors he uses to explain business are littered with references to deep powder turns and fly fishing. “Now I get to snowboard and call it work,” he said with a grin.
The audience responded enthusiastically to Rincon’s story, waving their hands in the air to ask a question and earn a fourOsix hat or sticker. A few students asked for Rincon’s autograph as he lingered after the speech.
Entrepreneur Day included group workshops such as role-playing business scenarios facilitated and critiqued by JJCBE faculty and students. “These workshops help students see that they have great ideas and that their ideas can make a difference in business applications,” said Lee.
“[The JJCBE tends] to see entrepreneurship as a way of thinking and acting,” she said. “We want our students to be able to identify potential opportunities, have the skills and knowledge to grasp them and turn that potential into something unique and useful.”
This year marked the 10th Entrepreneur Day at MSU. The event is supported in part by the Boeing Company.