January 10, 2008
By David Driver
Used with permission
Mason has always had a reputation for being entrepreneurial, but over the years, administrators have found that cataloging those efforts — and keeping track of them — as akin to grabbing a tiger by the tail. Good thing Ian Mooers was looking for a challenge.
In 2006, Mooers stepped into the new position of director of entrepreneurial and business development programs support in the Office of Research and Economic Development and immediately went to work. His role, in a nutshell, is to advocate and promote entrepreneurship among faculty, students, alumni and staff.
“I am a focal point for the resources that deal with entrepreneurship. I try to spread my tentacles as far as I can and reach out to the entire campus,” says Mooers. “I also do a lot of networking at events around town. It is really exciting to meet students and alumni who are out there starting a new business, and it is great to be able tell their stories.”
One vehicle for telling these stories is the Patriot Entrepreneur newsletter, which Mooers created. It includes articles on research, business creation, business management and inventions, as well as a monthly calendar of events.
Mooers frequently asks subject-specific experts to contribute articles to the newsletter, which brings the publication additional credibility. He also visits entrepreneurs at their work site to see how their business operates and to interview them for newsletter articles.
One of Mooers's goals for the current academic year is to get more students involved with his newsletter and web site. By working with student organizations, he hopes to eventually have most of the newsletter content come from students.
One of the young companies Mooers has nurtured is Responsible Outgoing College Students (ROCS), cofounded by Tom Moore, BA '06, and senior marketing major Brandon Labman. The two received a regional Global Student Entrepreneur Award in 2005 for their company, a local staffing agency that matches recent graduates with employers.
Labman says Mooers “has been an amazing help to us. He has given us a ton of great advice and guidance, and mentored us. We have been able to meet professors and other entrepreneurs, thanks to Ian.”
Mooers also assisted David Dowies, a Remax realtor licensed in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Dowies, who graduated in 2005 with a degree in management, began an online listing of real estate properties and did a soft launch on a web site last year.
“I was reading the Patriot Entrepreneur online before we launched the company, and I liked the way it made people aware of what Mason students and alumni were doing in terms of entrepreneurship,” says Dowies. “Ian was really helpful,” he adds. “He gave me a lot of contacts I could use to spread the word.”
John Casey, director of the Fairfax Small Business Development Center, part of the School of Public Policy, says, “Ian has been a great connection maker within the university and between different Mason programs and the local business community.”
“This is the best job I have ever had. I love it,” says Mooers. “Entrepreneurship is really flourishing here at Mason.”