Austin Smith is an upcoming senior at SLU majoring in Business with a double concentration in Entrepreneurship and Economics. He is also part of the Service Leadership Program, which means he completes 300 hours of service over his 4 years at SLU. Austin is a St. Louis native who is not afraid to take risks when he is truly passionate about a cause. Full Circle sat down with Austin right outside of SLU's campus to talk about his entrepreneurial spirit and his mission to spread that spirit throughout the St. Louis community.
I'm working on projects within the SLU community and in the Greater St. Louis community of entrepreneurship. At SLU, I have been pushing creating an entrepreneurial environment for students over the past year and a half. I want students to believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur, not just the entrepreneurship majors or people like Mark Zuckerberg. Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to current resources which for me means perseverance. It's people who want to make a difference and don't care that it might not seem like a good idea, but they are going to make it happen anyway. That mindset can be applied to business, but it can also be applied to nonprofits, politics, or a social movement. There are so many things it can be applied to. I want to introduce this to students at SLU. I have done this by helping to re-brand SLU's entrepreneurs club. It was just me and one other student in Spring 2015 and now, Fall 2016, we have a major event with up to 200 students in attendance. We are also starting student run businesses through an organization called Billiken Ventures, and the university will actually invest in our organization to start these student run businesses. I have also been pushing for an innovation center where students can work on problem solving and fostering new ideas. In the community, I work on a few different projects on my own. One is a product development company, and I also work with a medical company out of SLU's MEDLaunch accelerator program.
I simply have the drive. I don't think being young is a reason to hold back and try to wait for an opportunity. I want to pursue the opportunity myself. I see things that need to be changed, or I see things that would be a neat business or experience, and instead of saying "that's something that I would like to do later in my life," I just simply think "I'm going to do that now." Being young doesn't change my drive to make the world a better place.
St. Louis has a lot of challenges, but to me they are opportunities. Opportunity for growth when it comes to business and the lives of the people who live here. It's the perfect place to be if you want to make a change. If you go to New York or L.A. you might not be able to make as big of an impact. In St. Louis we are struggling both economically, politically, and in many other ways. Our generation gets the opportunity of making this city a better place and leaving our mark on the world in the process.
Why Full Circle?
Full Circle is beautiful because it creates the connections between young people. Young people have the drive to make the changes in St. Louis. There is so much value in the collaboration of two people who have the same drive but different expertise who take up the challenge of making St. Louis a better place. Teams combine the best of individuals, and that's what Full Circle helps with.