Building New Businesses
Eric Smith, Business Management and Entrepreneurship ’12
Commercialization Network Manager, UA Tech Launch Arizona
By Paul Tumarkin
“Building effective networks is kind of like putting a band together,” says Eric Smith, the new Commercialization Network Manager for Tech Launch Arizona. “Everyone can be a really talented individual, but you have to be able to listen for each person’s strengths and give them the parts that best showcase their talents.”
Eric gets both worlds – music and business.
While in college, he started his own DJ business, Revolution Entertainment, which he ran with his business partner for five years until he successfully sold it in 2012.
Today, with a BSBA in Business Management and Entrepreneurship from the Eller College of Management, a proven talent for building productive business relationships, and a deep-seated passion for his alma mater, Eric Smith has joined Tech Launch Arizona as its Commercialization Network Manager.
As part of the office’s Business Development team, Smith works with TLA’s Licensing Managers and Business Intelligence group to manage and expand the office’s 1,400-member expert network and implement strategies to leverage the collective knowledge of that network to more effectively commercialize technologies invented at the UA.
Smith works directly for Joann MacMaster, TLA’s Director of Business Development, who says that the position is critical for the team in that it pulls in the additional expertise and resources needed for successful commercialization.
“This includes interacting with our community and regional partners, industry and domain experts, commercialization partners, alumni network, and of course, our UA students primarily graduate students – to engage them in the mission of bringing UA inventions from the lab to the market,” she says. “Eric has first-hand experience working within these networks and is actively engaged with our local entrepreneurial ecosystem, making him an ideal candidate for the position.”
As a network builder, Smith’s focus is bi-directional, both internal and external to the UA. Externally, he engages the local and state business communities; at the same time, he has an internal focus on connecting with UA students – primarily graduate students – to engage them in the mission of bringing UA inventions from the lab to the market.
“I just love building teams and businesses,” he says. “Seeing them grow from idea to successful enterprise is extremely gratifying.”
And growing ideas is how he has built his career. After selling his own business, Smith took his knowledge to industry as the Business Development Manager for Aztera, a technology development and engineering company in Tucson. His role was to not only bring in business, but he was also heavily involved in project management, HR, operations and the creation of Aztera’s startups from idea to funding.
In 2013, he was selected as the ambassador for a partnership between Aztera, the City of Tucson, and Tech Launch Arizona. His role was to represent the city in commercialization efforts at UA. More specifically, he was tasked with building a network of domain experts and business drivers who consult on University technologies to help reveal their commercial relevance as they prepare to enter the market.
This is the network he will be managing going forward.
“TLA’s expert network is a critical asset used in our invention analysis and venture development process,” says TLA Vice President David Allen, Ph.D. “It is largely composed of UA alums who are technology curious and savvy, want to give back to the University and give us insights into markets for UA inventors’ technologies that are literally invaluable.”
Eric stays active in the community as the Board President of the Tucson Manufacturing Group, a long-time member of the Idea Funding Committee, a member of the Eller College Associates, a member of the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Council, and an Arizona Advisory Member for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.
Top photo courtesy Tech Launch Arizona.