Alyssa Washington

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Last month, a number of Winthrop University students were exposed to entrepreneurship, innovation and technology through coursework and a panel discussion.

The school often partners with the Technology Incubator, located at Knowledge Park in downtown Rock Hill, which offers assistance “in the successful launching of innovative technology companies to create knowledgeable worker jobs in the community,” according to its website.

“We just announced half a billion dollars in new development in the downtown area two weeks ago,” said David Warner, director of the Technology Incubator. “New hotels coming up, new housing, new stores, new entertainment venues, a lot is happening right now.”

The Technology Incubator hosted an innovation panel discussion Nov. 20, in conjunction with Winthrop’s Center for Career and Civic Engagement, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which featured four tech entrepreneurs.

The panelists included Rick Oppedisano, president and CEO of Delta Bravo; Tydetta Moore, founder of Level One Gaming and Technology Solutions; Ryan Sanderson, cofounder of Knowledge Perk; and Christina Wells, founder of iTurban Boutique.

“Everyone’s drive is different,” said Wells. “Choose something that is going to help you be the best entrepreneur.”

The panelists gave advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, which included a discussed about the definition of success, the importance of being part of a team and understanding the target market for a potential business.

Winthrop student Justin Rose, a junior business administration major, said he has learned a lot as a promotions and social media intern at the Technology Incubator.

“It’s been great,” said Rose. “Doing that promotion side and planning events (like the innovation panel), but also in terms of getting to know the different entities and the people of Rock Hill.

“The Technology Incubator is essentially an extension of the economic urban development sector of the city of Rock Hill. So, kind of learning the background of what goes on in Rock Hill, entrepreneurship as well. I mean just learning about that, getting to see entrepreneurs kind of build their own businesses…which is cool,” he said.

The Technology Incubator also hosted students from a Winthrop course called the Culture of Media Startups, which covers digital media entrepreneurship.

During the collaborative event, students were allotted six minutes to pitch their startup ideas to a panel of judges, including Warner and Bernice Huskins, from the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The student presentations had to include mock-ups of their ideas, revenue strategies and a list of potential competitors.

Senior Allison Stewart said she found the class valuable, because she has aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur someday.

“Being in an entrepreneurship class here on-campus, it has taught me of the paperwork you need, like the business plan, the models you need,” said Stewart.

“Before I took the class, I had so many ideas and now, taking the class and thinking of more problems to solve, I have developed more ideas. I’m so ready to start to implement them. Now that I have the tools and the proper resources and know more people in the industry, I can actually bring my dreams to life.”