First Silicon Slopes Lecture encourages Utah entrepreneurs, students to embrace risk

The Silicon Slopes Fall Entrepreneurship Lecture Series jumped right into the deep end on Tuesday.

Blake Modersitzki, managing partner of Pelion Venture Partners, discussed taking risks in life and in business at the series’ first session. While much of his lecture at Utah Valley University was framed within his venture capital background, the overall theme spoke to all in attendance.

“I wanted to share that life is a risky proposition, and to embrace the risk,” Modersitzki said after the session.

For many, that sentiment sunk close to home. Modersitzki explained that he never envisioned managing million-dollar funds when he was in college; he actually had planned to be a forest ranger. But life changed for him. One Brigham Young University student who attended the session during his lunch break said Modersitzki’s explanation of his own career unpredictability “validated” the risk college graduates face today.

For entrepreneurs, risk is a long-term companion. From his own experience with a company that manages more than a billion dollars in investments across more than 100 companies, Modersitzki said those starting out need to embrace risk — but be smart about it.

“It’s okay to have your stomach turn in knots. It’s okay to sweat, it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s a ton of fun,” Modersitzki said. “A career is a life of adjustments on a straight path. Be willing to adjust along the way.”

Mark Seastrand, director of UVU’s Entrepreneurship Institute, is excited about this season’s Lecture Series, and was glad to have Modersitzki kick it off for the fall even though the topic of venture capitalism is a bit more in depth than one might normally pick for a first lecture. It’s still a vital part of the life of the potential entrepreneurs in his UVU classes and the community.

“Venture capital is important to the life of an entrepreneur. It’s important to understand how to access that big money,” he said.

The Silicon Slopes Lecture Series continues at noon each Tuesday in room 134 of the Science Building at UVU. Each lecture is free and runs about 30 minutes, and then is followed by 10 to 15 minutes for a question and answer session. The series is open to all students and community members who are interested in learning from experienced entrepreneurs.

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