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Published February 26, 2019
Peter Scott has seen the scenario play out many times over the years: He meets someone who has a great idea for a product or can effectively fill a need in the marketplace. However, transforming thoughts into a full-fledged business is a common stumbling block for hopeful entrepreneurs.
Scott joined the University of Wyoming ranks to help turn those ideas into reality.
He began as the entrepreneur in residence for the College of Engineering and Applied Science in October. He is tasked with assisting students, faculty and prospective entrepreneurs around the state in the intricate process of starting businesses. In conjunction with the launch of UW’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), Scott is part of a cluster hire focused on entrepreneurship.
“I like creating things -- it’s an intellectual challenge,” Scott says. “It’s about trying to create a company that doesn’t exist, perhaps in a market that doesn’t exist. It’s really neat to look at something like a business or product that simply wasn’t there six months ago.”
Wyoming’s wide-open frontiers are home to outside thinkers hungry for a challenge. They share a spirit of adventure, restless curiosity and wonder. The world needs more cowboys, and UW’s IIE calls on innovators from throughout the state as it works to instill entrepreneurial thinking to empower the leaders of tomorrow. Adding needed programs and curriculum that draw together all UW colleges, business services and entrepreneurship competitions, the IIE serves as the university’s front door for the state’s entrepreneurs.
Originally from Michigan, Scott brings more than 30 years of experience in industry and academia. He has advised more than 25 technology startups worth more than $10 million in investment funding in topics such as strategy, marketing, sales and finance. The industries in which the companies have been involved include solar power, wind turbines, fuel injection, engine controls, consumer products and medical devices.
Scott has created entrepreneurial training guides used by incubators and universities in Papua New Guinea and Bahrain, and has taught in South Korea, China, Pakistan and Luxembourg. Most recently, he was a lecturer at the University of Colorado, where he taught entrepreneurship concepts to students pursuing Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees on the Boulder and Denver campuses. He began his teaching career as a professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University.
Scott’s expertise spans both the business and engineering realms. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, a master’s in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
“Engineers are problem solvers,” he says. “They know how to create a new product for a problem they’re trying to solve. That is what a lot of what entrepreneurship is. But the questions come up: What do I do now? When do I do it? Who is my customer? What do they want?
“What I like to do is help people start companies. Of all the startups I’ve worked with over many years, I know that I don’t have the idea. I’m not the technical co-founder who has a new widget, but I help the person who does. My role could be helping students become interested in entrepreneurship. It could be helping faculty members with new technology. It could be helping someone around town or the state.”
Scott already has made an impact in his short time on campus. He has created two courses, including a first-year seminar for students in innovation and entrepreneurship, and a weekly faculty entrepreneurship workshop. More curriculum plans are underway to offer campuswide entrepreneurship courses and a minor program. One of Scott’s goals is to develop a course in angel investing, and offer students the opportunity to vet companies that apply for funding and make a decision on whether to invest real capital.
A crucial aspect of the IIE mission is to connect entrepreneurs with UW resources and, as such, Scott already has begun to make connections.
“I’ve talked to company founders in the state who would benefit from a relationship with UW,” he says. “That’s where the university’s ‘natural’ resources -- its students and faculty expertise already on campus -- can be a boon. If you’re in Cody, where do you go to learn about starting a company? The university can develop that. We’re in a good position to develop a mentor network, as well. We can connect Gillette with Cody with Cheyenne with Jackson. We’re a statewide institution.”