As an experienced and passionate entrepreneurship educator, Dr. Carrie J. White brings innovation and networking expertise to I-Corps. Dr. White is the Executive Director of the LaunchLab Network at West Virginia University (WVU), an internationally recognized program that provides resources, support, and mentorship to innovative student entrepreneurs. In this position, she organizes programs and events to help aspiring entrepreneurs make connections and advance their business ideas.
Since 2018, Dr. White has led WVU’s collaboration with the UNY I-Corps Node to bring I-Corps programming to the university. An I-Corps instructor since 2019, she has recruited four additional WVU faculty members to become I-Corps regional course instructors. Together, the group hosts three I-Corps regional courses at WVU annually. Additionally, Dr. White has served as an adjunct instructor for a national I-Corps Teams cohort led by the UNY I-Corps Node. This collaboration has resulted in the acceptance of seven WVU teams into I-Corps Teams to date.
Dr. White also oversees the IDEA Hub, which facilitates multidisciplinary collaboration across WVU to encourage innovation. She coordinates the IDEA Faculty Fellows, a program that furthers WVU’s cross-campus entrepreneurship initiative by connecting faculty from various disciplines to create curriculum in innovation, design, and entrepreneurship.
Since 2004, Dr. White has taught courses on business law and entrepreneurship. She has created both virtual and in-person entrepreneurship curriculum, informed by her background in business, law, and, education. Prior to her career in academia, she founded and operated sports and fitness business in the Pittsburgh area, giving her firsthand knowledge of the entrepreneurial journey.
We recently sat down with Dr. White to discuss her experiences as an I-Corps instructor and the advice she has to offer aspiring entrepreneurs.
Q: What motivated you to become an I-Corps instructor?
Carrie White: I have worked with student innovators for many years and was excited to have the opportunity to work with researchers who want to commercialize their work. I get to learn so many new things from all of these STEM disciplines as an instructor for I-Corps.
Q: What one piece of advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
CW: Get comfortable and embrace failure! It is the best way to learn and become creative. Do not fall in love with your solution, fall in love with the problem you want to solve. That way you can pivot and make changes easier.
Q: Of the startup teams you have instructed, are there any success stories that come to mind? Where is that team now?
CW: One team that comes to mind immediately is ICONIC Air. They started as undergraduate engineering students and utilized every resource available to them, including the NSF I-Corps regional course. They have since participated in the I-Corps national program, received several federal grants, and are in operation. They did all of this in a matter of two years. We are very proud of this team at WVU!
Q: After learning about so many different customer markets, can you share a market or customer problem that still requires a solution/has great demand?
CW: There are currently several researchers working in the cannabis market since it has become legal. I have seen some great innovations, but the market is still very new. I think it would be beneficial for some of these researchers to work together and share their findings.