Seattle Ecosystem Trip: Entrepreneurship in Action

July 24, 2023

In May, a group of LSU entrepreneurship majors embarked on an enlightening journey to connect with business owners, technologists, investors, and thought leaders who power Seattle's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

With a shared goal of discovering what it takes to start a business, the students gained valuable insights into the daily lives of successful entrepreneurs, increased their understanding of various industries, and built their networks.

The group explored the intricacies of entrepreneurship through conversations, company visits, and activities. These experiences perfectly complement their coursework in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems (SDEIS). Engaging with professionals gave them insights into the challenges, triumphs, and daily routines that form the backbone of successful businesses. 

The trip began with a welcome dinner featuring Dave Zimmer, who is not only the vice president of Amazon Ads but also an alumnus of the LSU Flores MBA Program. "My favorite part of the trip was hearing from Dave Zimmer. His insights into the world of advertising, e-commerce, and how AI will change the future were invaluable," said Elijah Chambless, BS Entrepreneurship '24. 

The students' time in Seattle became a melting pot of encounters and visits, including the Microsoft Garage and CoMotion Labs, a business incubator at the University of Washington. They met entrepreneurs, executives, and other professionals from various fields, including technology, culinary arts, marketing, economic development, academia, and finance. 

For many students, a highlight of the trip was a lively panel discussion featuring entrepreneurs who shared advice and stories from their professional journeys. The candid conversation covered everything from sales and hiring to the importance of mental toughness when launching a business. Students had the opportunity to ask pressing questions to the panelists, who represented a variety of industries and experience levels. The conversation was recorded for The Jason Cavness Experience, a podcast produced by one of the panelists.

Throughout the trip, students fostered a deep appreciation for the power of diverse perspectives and the potential for collaboration across industries. Speakers also provided insights into the future of their sectors and advice on the skills and attributes needed to find entrepreneurial success. The lessons learned and bonds forged by the group will serve them well when launching their businesses.

“My favorite part of the Seattle trip was connecting with like-minded entrepreneurship majors who also became close friends," said Jeremy Worley, BS Entrepreneurship '24. "I took away the motivation to continue working towards developing my business. The company visits and hearing about businesses my new friends were working on made me feel like entrepreneurship is possible. Developing a business seems more obtainable."

Seattle is known for its innovative spirit and dynamic business environment, making it an excellent backdrop for an educational journey. Angelina Patton, BS Entrepreneurship '25, shares, "My favorite part was traveling to different parts of the city and observing businesses and how they operated. Visiting companies such as Microsoft and learning about their emerging technology, especially their use of AI, was very informative about the future of technology in the business industry." 

"I'll use what I learned to feel more confident in whatever industry path I decide on," said Bianca Schmidt, a May 2023 entrepreneurship graduate. "Meeting so many women in executive positions showed me that it's possible for me too."  

"We design the ecosystem trips to provide a multitude of benefits to our students," said Professor and SDEIS Department Chair Edward F. Watson III. "The connections made and knowledge gained will not only help them individually, but we also expect to see a positive impact on Louisiana as they bring these ideas home." 

"We are grateful to everyone who made this trip possible, including Larry Heimendinger, an LSU alumnus and great supporter of the E. J. Ourso College of Business and our program. I also want to thank WorldStrides for organizing the trip logistics. Finally, none of this would be possible without the vision and generosity of Emmet and the late Toni Stephenson."

Entrepreneurial Exploration

LSU Students gathered in front of the Microsoft building.

LSU entrepreneurship majors and faculty explored Seattle's entrepreneurial ecosystem in May 2023. The itinerary included visits to a variety of businesses, including Microsoft. 

LSU students surrounding the table at a welcome dinner.

Students interacted with Seattle-based alumni Dave Zimmer and Larry Heimendinger during the welcome dinner.

 LSU students gathered at the Modern Cusine tour.
LSU students gathered at the Space Needle Obsevation tower.
LSU students gathered at a table for a panel discussion.

Entrepreneurs shared advice and candid stories during a panel discussion.