Entrepreneurship Week: Highlighting and Educating SA’s Small Businesses

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Hall of Fame NBA Center and former San Antonio Spur David Robinson.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Hall of Fame center and former San Antonio Spur David Robinson discusses the social impact of entrepreneurship with moderator Erika Prosper (left).

A cohesive company culture, whether in a startup or an established organization like the San Antonio Spurs, can help people achieve desired social impacts from philanthropic initiatives, former Spur and basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson told an audience of entrepreneurs Monday.

“You can have an impact just by doing your job every day,” Robinson said during a panel discussion about the social impact of entrepreneurship. “If you can build a strong culture [in your organization] you can magnify your results.”

The panel, which featured Robinson and Santikos Entertainment CEO David Holmes and was moderated by Erika Prosper, was part of the second annual San Antonio Entrepreneurship Week at Port San Antonio. Organized by LaunchSA, this year’s entrepreneurship week will feature dozens of events designed to highlight the city’s diverse industries and encourage small business growth.

Robinson’s Admiral Capital Group focuses on socially responsible investing. During a question-and-answer session after the panel discussion, Robinson said that his investment group was in preliminary talks with the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation to collaborate on philanthropic initiatives. Robinson said a more detailed announcement would be forthcoming.

“We’re in the beginning stages of talking,” Robinson said. “They’ve been such great community partners, we’re looking at ways to really make an impact and deepen our individual impact.”

Sponsored by Santikos Entertainment and Admiral Capital Group, the entrepreneurship week highlights the city’s key industries and is affiliated with Global Entrepreneur Week. The free event, designed to connect small business owners, is staged at 11 locations throughout the city, with more than 600 attendees registered for sessions.

“We’re looking to connect different areas of town and help make new connections across industry niches,” said Ryan Salts, Launch SA’s director of programming. “More communications should breed better outcomes for our city.”

Launch SA is a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with LiftFund and the San Antonio Economic Development Department to provide mentorship, networking, and programs teaching specific skills for budding entrepreneurs.

The week includes events hosted at the locations below:

Monday, Nov. 13: Port San Antonio
Tuesday, Nov. 14UTSA Institute for Economic Development
Wednesday, Nov. 15UT Health San Antonio
Thursday, Nov. 16San Antonio Museum of ArtSan Antonio College
Friday, Nov. 17LocalSprout Food HubSt. Philip’s CollegeGeekdom

The biggest takeaway Salts heard from industry leaders after last year’s entrepreneurship week was that it gave many business people their first exposure to the local entrepreneurial network and local resources that support it.

“Launch SA is not the only resource in town,” Salts said. “Our baseline for services is to act as a ‘311’ for the business community.”

New this year are sessions focused on biosciences and biotech. A session Wednesday will focus on the latest innovations in treating and preventing damage from traumatic brain injuries at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute.

“We recommended that the City support the inclusion of bioscience and biotech,” said Ann Stevens, president of BioMed SA. “This year there will be a dedicated biomedical day during the week of entrepreneurial activities.”

More than 80 speakers will share lessons learned on everything from social impact investing to culinary and tech startups. Speakers will include WOAI’s News 4 meteorologist Albert Flores, food entrepreneur Jody Newman, and Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf.

At Monday’s keynote presentation at Port San Antonio, WiseWear founder Jerry Wilmink discussed his journey as a biomedical engineering innovator.

WiseWear, a company specializing in high-end wearable technology devices, has gone from a 100-square-foot office at Geekdom to a 5,000-square-foot headquarters staffed with eight employees. Wilmink said he was able to learn from the founders of San Antonio tech giant Rackspace and applied those lessons to his own business.

“There are a lot of players required to help make an entrepreneur successful in a community,” Wilmink said. “We need to send the elevator down and serve as mentors.”

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