August 28, 2013 by Amanda Bradford, NMSU News Center
In the years since he earned his marketing degree here, Brad Gordon has given plenty of credit to New Mexico State University’s College of Business – where he’s often said he found a second chance at academic success and the support he needed to find his path in the business world and in life.
After a career in venture capital and entrepreneurship, helping launch 11 companies, mostly in the biotech field, he’s shown his gratitude to NMSU with a number of generous gifts in recent years. His family’s latest gift of $10,000 came on the heels of a visit to campus in April to share his story and serve as a mentor to the students, faculty and business professionals working together to launch innovative ideas into marketable companies. During the visit – part of the College of Business’ mentorship program – Gordon met with students at the college and the Arrowhead Center student business incubator, Studio G.
“It was an opportunity to go back and share with the students who are at the beginning of their journey,” Gordon said of the visit. “What budding entrepreneurs need is the benefit of hindsight from someone who’s got the experience from both successes and from setbacks and failures.”
Gordon’s message was simple: When you’re first starting out, the only thing you know about your big plan is that it’s wrong. Guessing, adapting, being receptive and responsive to feedback – these are the keys to turning that plan into something that just might work. It’s all about what you do next.
“Everyone tries to teach success; no one really teaches failure,” Gordon said. “But there’s a lot to be learned through failure.”
Students in Arrowhead’s business incubator got a chance to get some feedback from Gordon on their entrepreneurial pitches during his visit. To make things more interesting, he pulled out a $100 bill and slapped it down on the table. “This goes to the best idea,” he told the students.
Gordon said he was blown away by the results.
“A phenomenal design is just a starting point,” he said. “These were far better-rounded business plans than I have seen before. The fact that this was occurring at the university level was doubly surprising.”
After the passing in 2012 of both his parents, Herman and Jean Gordon, successful entrepreneurs in their own right, Gordon wanted to give a gift to the university that would celebrate his parents’ legacy and promote their entrepreneurial spirit.
“I wanted to give something to honor them, and after seeing the caliber of the ideas and the level of sophistication of the technology and the strategy at Arrowhead Center, it absolutely crystallized in my mind that this was the highest and best use of those funds,” Gordon said.
The gift to Arrowhead Center includes $5,000 from the Gordon Family Trust, on behalf of Gordon and his sisters, Gwen Goldberg, Nancy Gordon-Zwerling, Margy Weinberg and Kay Abadee, and another $5,000 from Gordon and his wife, Jacqui.
“Gifts like this help make it possible for Arrowhead to continue growing and evolving,” said Kathy Hansen, Arrowhead Center’s chief operating officer. “This generous support underlines the fact that we’re making important connections that foster an entrepreneurial spirit among our faculty, students and industry partners.”
Gordon said Arrowhead presents a perfect practice gym to maximize the potential for success.
“Without a doubt, they’ve created an extraordinary ecosystem – extraordinary in how complete it is, from lab resources and development resources to the business side,” he said. “They’ve merged all the critical elements to go from a raw concept to a developed plan.”