Dylan Garrett is only a year and a half out of college, and he wants to bridge the gap that exists between students at the University of Oregon and local businesses.
Garrett has accomplished this by creating a close relationship between his own business and the Entrepreneur Club and the American Marketing Association on campus.
Six years ago, Garrett and his friends wanted lights that reacted to movement for parties as a way to de-stress. “My friends loved electronic music; we were good kids; we didn’t drink or do drugs, so techno parties served as our escape from the stress of school and college preparation.”
After graduating from USC a little over a year ago, Garrett made Light Dance a full fledged business. Garrett has shared his adventure with UO by partnering with student groups and showing these clubs what he’s gone through. “We are regular speakers at their meetings, and we are sharing our journey as entrepreneurs and marketers to give these students a unique inside view of what it really takes to start a new company,” Garrett said of his business’ involvement.
One of Light Dance’s employers was discovered through the Entrepreneur Club. Alex Caves, a product design student, first met Garret when he attended Startup Weekend, an Entrepreneur event in Eugene where people pitch product ideas.
Caves is also a member of the Entrepreneur Club on campus where he has been able to increase his personal connections. “I helped create their logo. Being a part of the group has been a great experience and helped me learn how to network,” Caves said.
Paul Garret, co-founder of Light Dance and the father of Dylan, agrees with Caves that getting involved and putting yourself out there is vital to becoming employed. “In a tight job market it has become essential for students to get real world experience along side their college education and to build a network of potential employers before they graduate,” he said. Attending events such as Startup weekend or joining established clubs helps students meet new people and learn from them.
The product, Light Dance, is currently available through Kickstarter, a website where project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. These backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not to profit financially. Instead of receiving money, project creators offer rewards to thank backers for their support through the process.
Jordan Johnson, president of the Entrepreneur club at UO says watching Light Dance grow as a company has been a valuable experience. “Having Paul and Dylan open up the process of creating a business to students has been eye opening to me and has taught me just how much work and thought has to go into every detail.”
Having Light Dance share their process has helped students learn about where they can look to find jobs and pitch ideas for their own products. Johnson said, “It’s one thing to read about a startup, it’s a whole other level to be able to discuss strategy with someone in the middle of cresting their own venture.”