You know that feeling you get when the air is charged with excitement – the hair on your arms sticks straight up, you scream and cheer along with everyone else in the crowd, and you can't wait to see what happens next? If this sounds like a Virginia Tech football game, you'd be only half right. The location would be correct, but would you believe it was not a not a winning touchdown that drove the crowd crazy on the campus of Virginia Tech on Wednesday, April 27, 2011? It was seed money to fund a start-up business.
After giving away thousands of dollars in drawings for prizes that ranged from $500 gift cards to internships at a choice of Facebook or Apple, wine-expert-turned-entrepreneur-turned-author Gary Vaynerchuk ended his talk to a gathering of over 1800 students and guests with an offer of $10,000 to help get a business off the ground.
The deal: $10,000 in seed-money with Gary retaining 5% interest in the company and an invitation to come to New York. The winner: Becca Favret.
Becca received her bachelor's degree in English from Virginia Tech in December 2010. With her sights set on attending law school at the University of Richmond in the fall, starting a business was the furthest thing from her mind. "To come up with an idea for a business because I have the opportunity did not seem to be the reason to start a business."
The fact that Becca was more focused on a career in law rather than becoming an entrepreneur did not faze Gary. "He told me to follow my passion and that we can talk now or talk later – even three years later." Becca definitely felt the impact of Gary's passion and generosity. "I was blown away by his presence. You could tell he was excited about what he was talking about. There's no doubt he grew a loyal following of college students that night. He left a lasting mark on everyone who was there."
Gary Vaynerchuk is currently on tour promoting his new book The Thank You Economy. His visit to Virginia Tech was the brainchild of Professor John Boyer and his Geography of Wine class who used video and social media to invite Gary V to come to Tech and to waive his usual speaking fee.
To see Gary in action at Virginia Tech, check out this cell-phone video taken by an audience member: Gary Vaynerchuk Epic Prizes Giveaway at Virginia Tech!
Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., a Blacksburg, Virginia-based higher-ed marketing company focused on mobile app and mobile web development with a special interest in creating travel and location-based tools and services. SmartCollegeVisit.com, a college search and college visit planning portal, has been listed in the Top 100 education advice blogs and as one of the top 5 college visit sites. You are invited to follow her on Twitter @collegevisit.
Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated.