Student entrepreneurs have access to UTEP’s Studio G

Want to start a business? Studio G, UTEP’s student business accelerator, can help you out

UTEPs+administration+building.

Claudia Hernandez

UTEP’s administration building.

Bryan Mena, Editor-in-Chief

Studio G is the first resource of its kind at UTEP and its available for student entrepreneurs who want to start and grow their own businesses.

Because of COVID-19, Studio G has gone completely online but Michael Garcia, the director of UTEP’s Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce, says that enthusiasm for this new program has remained strong despite a brief drop in registrations when UTEP shut down in the spring.

Studio G is known as a “business accelerator” and the services it provides are completely free of charge for UTEP students of all majors and recent alumni.

It provides access to mentorship, advising, lectures, networking events and the opportunity to participate in startup workshops and business contests, among other things.

This new entrepreneurship initiative is a partnership between UTEP’s Mike Loya Center and the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University (NMSU), where Studio G originated.

Studio G first became available at UTEP in early February after UTEP and NMSU officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and presser.

“We’re excited to bring NMSU’s student business accelerator to UTEP,” NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said at that news conference. “We want all students to share in the benefits of entrepreneurship and business creation, which helps build a stronger economy in our region. Our region is home to individuals whose shared ambitions and commitment to economic development transcend borders.”

Studio G was founded at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center in 2011 and it has “worked with more than 1,700 student entrepreneurs and has raised more the $6 million in investments and grants,” according to a news release.

300 people were hired by Studio G entrepreneurs in 2019, the release says.

Garcia told The Prospector that Studio G at UTEP was established through a gift of $17,000 by the Hunt Family Foundation.

The business accelerator currently has two people on-staff – Omar Delgado, who is the full-time resource coordinator, and Mia Gomez, who is the part-time student assistant.

According to Garcia, this kind of close-knit collaboration between UTEP and NMSU has never been done before.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that,” Garcia said. “Dr. Arvizu, the chancellor of NMSU, and President Wilson were so elated about this. The universities have never collaborated like this before so I’m hoping this will lead to more collaboration.”

Garcia says Studio G started out with “a steadily increasing rise of registrations” before spring break of this year.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“There was a big dive in registrations during that time,” he said.

Studio G had to move all its operation online, which was challenging to figure out at first, but Garcia says the transition has gone smoothly so far.

Once the dust settled, Garcia says Studio G saw a “big surprise” in June with an uptick of 79 registrations.

Before the pandemic, students were able to physically drop by at the Mike Loya Center to do the intake process, but now they can just log on to my.utep.edu and click on the Studio G icon on their dashboard to fill out the application or learn more.

One of the things that Studio G entrepreneurs have been doing since the program went completely online is their virtual “Coffee Hour” where they can network with each other and ask staff members any questions.

Garcia says it’s going to take about a year or two before Studio G can boast about any success stories because “it takes a while for ideas to be formed and businesses to be developed.”

“Then after that, you’re going to have this steady stream of ventures that eventually become successful,” Garcia said. “We’re envisioning that these ventures will become viable components of the economy here in El Paso region, and they’ll hopefully become sources of employment for UTEP graduates.”

He says that Studio G has already forged partnerships with entities like the El Paso Chamber of Commerce and El Paso County’s economic development office.

Bryan Mena may be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @bpmena.