RIT student Lindsay Reardon is thrilled about the opportunities that are in store for students anxious to create and manage their own businesses.
An entrepreneur by nature, Reardon is no stranger to self-employment, beginning as a high school student creating posters for weddings, anniversaries and other special events.
Today, the Saunders College of Business MBA student is digital marketing manager for OWA Haircare, a student-run startup that has developed Moondust Hair Wash, a waterless shampoo that saves water, plastic and energy and contains ingredients that are naturally derived.
Reardon's initial interest in RIT focused on film and animation, but she soon developed a love for finance and marketing and quickly realized that her unique skillset was an asset to student teams with innovative ideas.
Reardon said she became involved in entrepreneurship in 2009 when students were being recruited to participate in the Saunders Summer Startup program through the Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
"I was a good fit for a lot of teams that needed someone who knew how to write a business plan, do some design work and make promotional videos," she said. "I was actually among the first cohort of students in that program that were actually paid over the summer to develop ideas that could be brought to market. It's been great watching the program grow."
Reardon, who is from Granby, Conn., is inspired by Austin McChord's $50 million gift and said his generosity will present RIT students with even more opportunities than she had when she started developing her business ventures.
She was also impressed by news of a fellowship that will allow for a gap year, giving student entrepreneurs opportunities to work on their businesses full time.
"The ability to not have to worry about school or working full time is tremendous," Reardon added. "A fellowship that allows you to completely focus on your business is a luxury that not many new entrepreneurs have. This is a perfect opportunity for those who want to take advantage of RIT's nurturing environment."
Reardon and OWA Haircare founder Kailey Bradt, a product development master's student, recently took their hair-care product to Europe to engage and brainstorm with investors, innovators and industry experts at the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit.
And earlier in 2017, OWA Haircare won first place and $10,000 in the "products" category at the eighth annual New York State Business Plan Competition.
Reardon knows there are countless RIT students just like those on the OWA team-"doers" with great ideas and the commitment to make things happen.
"This is an amazing gift," said Reardon. "I admire Austin's attitude. It's infectious. He is passionate about his company and creating products and services that are truly great. He is exactly what an RIT student should aspire to become."