From Business Owner to Coach

By: Gary Fry, Business Coach/Program Manager, The NIIC

What image comes to mind when you think of an entrepreneur? Someone young? Middle aged? Someone in between?The NIIC makes entrepreneurship accessible for people of ALL ages and walks of life—and I am proud to be a part of that overarching mission of being rocket fuel for great ideas, people, and organizations.

To that end, I am the NIIC Business Coach and Program Manager for the Student Venture Lab Program.This program offers young entrepreneurs the opportunity to start and grow businesses in a supportive, success-focused environment. Based on the highly successful model used by technology startup accelerators at the Global Acceleration Network (GAN), The NIIC’s SVL Program offers seed investment—and much more—to selected student-owned startup technology ventures.

Speaking of start-ups, I founded a company when I was 23 years of age and sold it three years ago. Through the years, I have built on my edegree in education as well as my various business experiences. My position as the NIIC Business Coach/SVL Program Manager is the perfect marriage of the two. I find it very fulfilling. Watching students grow as entrepreneurs and seeing their passion for developing their businesses drives me to make a difference every day.

Innovation to me is when a change or update is made to something that already exists, but it dramatically improves its efficiency, productivity, or performance/results. Whether it’s an improvement to a system, product, service, curriculum, etc., an innovation is not just a change but might be a game changer or a disruption.

When I’m not working, I like to spend time with my family. I have three children. Gunnar is a freshman at Homestead High School and plays football. Leah is a 7th grader at Woodside Middle School and is in show choir. Olivia is a 4th grader at Covington Elementary and plays basketball and soccer. My wife Jama is the surgical trauma intensive care manager at Parkview (PRNC). With such an active family, there is not a lot of time for hobbies. I do enjoy spending time fishing in South Carolina and turkey hunting.

If you are a young entrepreneur and want to act on your drive, contact me. If you or someone you know is interested in financially supporting the SVL Program to provide support for students to start and grow their dreams, please contact me at telephone 260-487-3298 or gfry@niic.net.


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