Business student to compete on national level

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Courtesy of John Walsh

by Alex Piscatelli, Staff Writer

San Diego State international business senior John Walsh  was named the winner of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards regional qualifying round.

This honor, given by the San Diego chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, recognizes student entrepreneurs who are succeeding in the companies they have created.

As CEO and co-founder of his company, VENA, Walsh won $2,500 and will now move forward to nationals and could compete on an international level against students from 50 different countries.

For almost two years now, Walsh has been involved with VENA, a company that works to create new sources of fresh water for areas with drought issues.

“We’re essentially condensing atmospheric water in a really low energy, using the earth as a condensing mechanism,” Walsh said. “We’re basically pulling water out of the atmosphere.”

With this procedure, clean water is produced, which VENA supplies to water-deprived areas all over the world.

Walsh has been involved in startups since his freshman year of high school.

“I had a software company when I was freshman, eighth grade, and then I ended up being able to buy an apartment building because of it,” he said. “I ended up having rent checks that kind of fueled my entrepreneurship.”

Since then, Walsh has been a part of multiple companies, VENA being the most recent.

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Director Bernhard Schroeder has known Walsh since he was a freshman student in his Introduction to Entrepreneurship class.

Schroeder said Walsh came up to him one day and asked him to lunch so they could discuss entrepreneur strategy. Schroeder was astounded by Walsh’s forward determination.

“I’m like, ‘Who the hell is this guy?’” Schroeder said. “‘He wants to buy me lunch? … This is an 18-year-old freshman, right?’”

Since then, Schroeder has been a mentor for Walsh throughout his undergraduate studies.

“(Schroeder) is absolutely fantastic and incredible in guiding young entrepreneurs toward the proper strategic path needed to develop a startup,” Walsh said.

Walsh also credits his success at SDSU to the Zahn Innovation Center.

The center focuses on innovation and invention, rather than just selling a product that has already been produced, Walsh said.

Walsh looks forward to competing nationally for the award.

“I think it’s definitely something that is a credible factor to assessing the experience and skill set and experience of the team,” Walsh said. “I think that that’s a huge role in a startup. There’s a lot of great ideas out there but at times there’s not. There isn’t always the best management or the best team to make it happen or to execute it, which is why a lot of ideas don’t end up coming (together).”

Schroeder said a lot of Walsh’s accomplishments and success come from his sense of curiosity, a characteristic, he said, is inside everyone.

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