IMG 6939This is the second in a series profiling the members fo the BIC Community Outreach Team:

Zack Martin
Age: 23
Alma Mater: UMass Dartmouth, Marketing
Course: Robotics and Electronics

Q: Why is it important that students learn about robotics?
A: The future is moving more and more towards technology and in order to do anything in any industry you have to know about electronics or robotics. Even if you don’t necessarily do anything with it.

Q: How did you get involved in the field?
A: I’ve always been interested in programming. It’s actually interesting how everything in the computer is just a step-by-step process. If you know what each step is, you know how to program… That includes everything up to robotics.

Q: Is there any particular moment, in robotics, that means something to you?
A: That moment when a student understands something they originally thought they’d never understand… That Eureka moment!

It makes me feel proud, knowing that I was able to share knowledge, that someone was able to understand what I was trying to explain. It just took a little longer than expected.

Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: It’s between “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail” and “Zoolander.”

Q: What is your idea of fun?
A: My idea of fun is when a group of kids get together, each with a different skillset and…. When they all come together, it is just amazing.

Q: What are your goals in life?
A: I want to help the community and build a more educated community… No matter where I end up, I always want to help the community in some way.

Q: So you’re originally from Boston and normally people leave the Fall River area and go to Boston. What was it that made you decide to stay here?
A: I stayed down here because I was working on projects with friends and I knew that if I left those projects would die out. I decided to remain persistent in order to make those goals a reality.

Christopher Nielsen
This is the first in a series of profiles of the teachers, writers, coders and others who make up the Business Innovation Center team:

Christopher Nielsen, Dir. of Business Innovation Center

AGE: 54
EXPERTISE: Multimedia, tv production, music production, Web Development
EDUCATION: University of Minnesota
Q: How is it that you got involved in this field?
A: My original passion was in the music business and I found that as an opportunity to promote my music and broaden my network with the Minnesota music community. Now, I’m just trying to pull from my 50 years of experience in the entertainment industry to inspire kids about entrepreneurship.
Q: What are some of your favorite moments as a teacher?
A: All the things that I am doing now? Teaching kids about open source technologies and the like… Those are basic skills that are basic things you need to know. The other piece of the puzzle is that as you are teaching you are learning.
Q: How so?
A: As you get older, you tend to get opinionated in how you think about things and the youthful perspective helps you turn that around sometimes and that is a fascinating place to be in. I don’t like it when people get to still because you get to comfortable… Comfort and growth are not compatible.
Q: Is there anyone in your field you look to for inspiration?
A: In the technology space, someone that inspires me most now is Ray Kurzweil. He was a pioneer in music and is now one of the leading researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: What Dreams May Come
Q: Favorite book?
A: How to Create a Mind by Ray Kurzweil
Q: Any particularly prominent goals in your life?
A: I look at the BIC as a movement, as a seed within the community. I hope to see it grow and see other people inspired by those that it attracts. I would love to see it grow into a sustainable community beyond this space.

BordenStephanie Borden, owner of One & Done Concierge and Personal Assistant Services, pitches her businesses to members of the TAG Network on Wed., May 18. (Photo by Kevin G. Andrade)The SouthCoast Teamwork Advocach and Growth (TAG) Network for Smal Businesses is starting up growth in Fall River.

With the objective of offering opportunities for networking to local entrepreneurs to help them learn about new products, learn new strategies and grwow their businesses further.

The TAG Network for Small Businesses (TAG Network) met for the third time on the morning of Wednesday, May 4.

Alongside some liquid energy in the form of coffee, members spoke on their businesses, loans and the objectives of the group of 17 business owners and startups.

“We tried to start something similar to other networking groups in the area,” said Lisa Stantieski, a business banker with Rockland Trust and core member of the TAG Network. “We have a good core group of people and we want to be structured.”

On Mortgages

In addition, those in attendance listened to a presentation by Joanne Costa, a mortgage consultant with Accutrust Mortgage.

“I’ve been in this business for about 20 years,” said Costa at the outset of her talk.

From that moment on, she spoke about the recent changes that have come to mortgage lending of which potential borrowers should be aware. She said that her hope was for people to take what she is teaching and protect themselves from shady deals.

“When you apply for a mortgage people are used to seeing a single-page good faith estimate,” she said. “Now there’s a multi-page loan estimate.”

In addition, whereas many lenders would add on last minute fees, they are now required to provide a final estimate of interest rates and other factors within three days of closing.

Your mortgage rates are affected by your credit score which is why it is important to have good credit when you apply. The mortgages itself will also have an effect on your credit, nonehteless, it's not the only thing tha taffects your mortgage rates. Costa said that a persons credit score as well as their “loan-to-value” also factor in.

“That’s what your rate is,” she said. “So it would be hard for me to tell you what ‘your rate’ would be today.”

CostaNielsenChristopher Nielsen, owner of CNP Integrations, speaks about his business and some of the customers he supports, during the TAG Network Meeting on Wed. May 8. (Photo by Kevin G. Andrade)

Joanne Costa, of Accutrust Mortgage, makes a presentation about mortgage lending to the TAG Network on Wed., May 4. (Photo by Kevin G. Andrade)

Startup WeekendStartup Weekend -Photo courtesy of @Tou Kun,Members of the Business Innovation Center team were amongst the participants and coaches at the Third Annual UMass Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurships’ Startup Weekend competition from April 22 to 24.

The proceedings gathered around 70 participants divided into eight teams in order to hash out business ideas. Given 54 hours, they were to create pitches, code and fully flush out their initiatives.

But they weren’t alone in the process.

“Being a mentor is about problem solving and giving of your self,” said Christopher Nielsen, founder of the Business Innovation Center and one of nine mentors helping participants nurture their ideas. “It is always interesting, challenging and often inspiring to approach things from a new pair of shoes and then to walk in them on someone else's path but being able to call upon my own unique experiences.”

In spite of the seemingly daunting parameters of the challenge, it wasn’t as grueling as it appears according to one participant.

“There was more of a feeling of excitement than being overwhelmed,” said Zack Martin, BIC program manager as well as Startup Weekend participant. “It wasn’t really stressful ever.

“It was fun to work with people that I never met before,” he continued, “who brought different skills to the table.”

Martin was part of a six-person team that created a mini-GPS tracking system called Footstep.

Footstep is a device designed to protect your property in situations where valuables may be left in your vehicle. Should someone break into the vehicle, the device would feel the motion of the break in and notify your phone.

A second notification would be sent to the users cellular device should it then begin to move with the presumed robber.

Martins’ team actually came in second-place out of the eight competing teams.

“It was amazing to place, that felt great,” he said. “The team that won had an original idea that deserved to win.”

The winning team was called LifeSync and created a prototype for a carboximeter – a device to help people suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

For both mentors and participants, the experience was a rewarding one.

“It was quite an interesting process and it allows me to grow,” said Nielson. “To help others fulfill their goals and be able to offer more again every time I do it.”

Martin also learned something that he says he will take with him through any future business endeavors.

“It really teaches you how to handle stress well,” said Martin. “You realize that you being stressed out leads to other people being stressed out and that things can still go smoothly as long as you stay calm.

“It was competitive but it was a friendly competitive,” he continued, reflecting on the experience. “I think it’s worth doing for anyone that wants to start a business… It was an amazing place and it felt great.”

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