Academics

Encouraging Innovation

February 26, 2019

New Center for Entrepreneurship director will empower students to grow their ideas

Liberty University students who aspire to own their own business or have an idea for a startup aren’t waiting until they graduate to test the entrepreneurial waters. Through the Center for Entrepreneurship, a number of resources are available to help them develop their ideas, hone their business skills, and connect with people who have succeeded at various levels of industry.

One of those successful professionals is the center’s new executive director, Anthony Nobles.

Nobles has founded more than 28 companies in fields such as electronics, healthcare, banking, automotive engineering, retail, and real estate. Nobles has invented more than 155 medical devices and leading electronic technologies, including a portable electronic book and endoscopic imaging systems. He has been directly responsible for the sale of companies, or has licensed their technologies, to several of the largest medical device companies, including Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, and Boston Scientific. He has also developed automotive technologies for consumer vehicles and for Formula 1 Ferrari race cars.

Nobles’ first visit to Liberty was in October when he joined a panel at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine to discuss an innovative heart procedure being conducted with a device he invented. Liberty President Jerry Falwell revealed that he had recently undergone the breakthrough procedure.

Before that trip, Nobles, who lives in California, said he didn’t know much about Liberty.

“When President Falwell toured me around and showed me what he and his father’s original vision was and what they’ve accomplished, I was touched by what I saw,” Nobles said. “Every time I turned the corner on the tour, I felt like, ‘Wow this is the place for me.’”

He sensed then that his relationship with the university would grow.

“My passion is teaching. I love to teach; it is important to me. From a standpoint of faith, it was truly God who knew what I wanted, and this opportunity (to be the center’s director) arose, and I get to be a part of something that is incredibly special.”

Nobles will guide students through all stages of developing a product or company — from the research to the presentation, design, engineering, and regulatory processes — as well as help students make business contacts. He also plans to include students in a project with a subsidiary of one of his companies that could lead to a clinical trial.

Beyond the instruction Nobles will give, he hopes to encourage students with the life lessons he’s learned.

“My opening line is that nobody studies to be an entrepreneur. If you’re taking a program because you want to be an entrepreneur, you aren’t one. My definition is someone who works really, really hard, succeeds, then fails, succeeds then fails, and never gives up. Then, when you finally reach the goal, you are an entrepreneur. I’ve been so blessed that I’ve had those experiences — good and bad — to get where I am.”

Nobles will operate the center out of its new space in the School of Business building, which is scheduled to open by the end of the spring semester. Though it is supported by the School of Business, the center will remain open to students from all degree programs, residential or online.

“This program is multitiered,” Nobles said. “It can be someone from the medical school, to engineering, law school, or even from music or art, who can come be a part of this program where we will create not just textbook scenarios but real-life experiences.”

Ongoing Programs

Each Monday, the center hosts its Meet Up! Startup! event where students can network with one another and local business leaders. Once a month, a larger event is held at a local business.

Jaden Shaw (left) and Jacen Garriss used the Spark! Incubator program to help with their collegiate eSports consulting business.

“People have ideas. We are trying to get them together to build this entrepreneurial ecosystem here,” said Alexandru Barker, the center’s assistant director.

Students can also join the Spark! Incubator program, where they are paired with a mentor (an area professional) who helps them fine-tune their strategy and guides them through unfamiliar territory, like applying for legal status or securing a patent.

“A lot of the program was answering questions that we didn’t even know we needed to ask,” said junior Jacen Garriss, co-founder of Peak eSports and Entertainment, which hosts gaming leagues and offers collegiate eSports consulting services. “There are all of these different aspects of owning and running a business that I had no clue about.”

Andy Chen (’18) and Gabby Reese (’18) recently launched a box subscription service in China after developing their idea through the Spark! Incubator program.

At the end of the semester, participants pitch their ideas to a panel of judges from area businesses at an event modeled after the reality TV show “Shark Tank.” Students compete for a chance to win cash prizes to grow their business. Last semester, the Most Innovative Idea winner was Touch of the Nations, a box subscription service that allows customers to experience overseas culture. The service was started by Gabby Reese, who graduated in December with a B.S. in Business Administration-Entrepreneurship, and Andy Chen (’18). They recently started operations in China.

For more information on Liberty’s Center for Entrepreneurship, or if you are interested in becoming a mentor, visit Liberty.edu/StartUp, call (434) 592-7321, or email entrepreneur@liberty.edu.


Virginia Business Magazine featured Liberty’s “outside the box” education philosophy and support of entrepreneurial endeavors in its January issue. The article showed how Liberty works closely with businesses to ensure that students are being trained with the needs of future employers in mind. Visit VirginiaBusinessMagazine.com.

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