Looking for the next Steve Jobs at The DEN
JOHN WARNER, an ’81 Clemson alumnus and owner of Concepts to Companies, is a frequent supporter of Clemson University’s Design Entrepreneurship Network, also known as The DEN. Warner sees his participation in The DEN as an opportunity to give back to his alma mater.
“I enjoy the energy,” he says. “I enjoy the students. It’s compelling.”
Warner is not only a mentor to DEN students, but he also uses the DEN as a platform to scout potential business partners. Since beginning his involvement with The DEN in the spring of 2014, Warner’s business, Concepts to Companies, has successfully partnered with two DEN business proposals. Today, Accessible Diagnostics and Recovr are businesses operating, thanks to the connection established at Clemson.
Each company is pioneering medical innovations that could change the way people live their day-to-day lives. Accessible Diagnostics, brainchild of Delphine Dean and Kayla Gainey, has partnered with Warner in order to distribute low-cost glucose test strips to the near 350 million people worldwide who cannot afford to do so. Recovr, creation of Larry Hodges and Austin Hayeshas developed an innovative therapy program used to rehabilitate stroke victims.
While Warner has certainly made successful business connections at The DEN, he says he is waiting for the next Steve Jobs. He believes The DEN is very capable of cultivating such a person.
“The students here have potential and that’s the DEN’s biggest opportunity,” he says. “Clemson has preeminent scholars, people who are the best in the world at what they do. The DEN is here to help students think through problems and develop businesses based on the quality work that is already being done at Clemson.”
Today the DEN is working to engage the groundbreaking minds of Clemson University’s varied disciplines. The DEN is an organization open to the innovation of all minds, and is blending the liberal arts with the sciences. Warner says this interdisciplinary collaboration gives The DEN its successful edge. As DEN students collaborate, they ask: what are we going to do that will make an impact? How can we make our world a better place?
But Warner reminds students that, “Success does not have to mean you change the world in one day. We celebrate small successes along the way.”
So The DEN continues its work day-by-day and step-by-step.
While anyone involved in the organization can see that DEN students are hard-working and inspired individuals, Warner specifically highlights the benefits of working with Clemson students.
“The biggest benefit is giving back,” he says. “You can’t walk away from a DEN meeting without feeling pumped up and excited about the possibilities.”