In conversations with successful entrepreneurs, the mention of one influential individual is a common thread for all of them. Liza Millet, a person who has assisted in guiding them along the path to success, believes in helping others. In 2013, seeing a need for stronger entrepreneurial training, Liza co-founded and became the Program Director of the Central Wyoming College’s Start Up Intensive, a 10-week entrepreneurial boot camp, where she recruits, coordinates and mentors entrepreneurs. So when the Wyoming Business Report’s Women of Influence added an awards category for Best Mentor, Millet was the best candidate.
Millet was honored with the award in August for her hard work not only with the Start Up Intensive but also as the co-founder of Silicon Couloir, a nonprofit organization in Jackson that connects and supports entrepreneurs.
“This is the first year this award has been included. I think it is an important category,” Millet said. “When most people reflect on their successes in life and business in particular, they mention people who have influenced them. I feel fortunate that I have been able to be that person for someone.”
Millet has been a mentor for more than just a few people in the Jackson area. She has mentored 103 Start Up Intensive graduates in eight sessions. At Silicon Couloir, Millet runs an angel/mentor group as well as serves on the coaching committee for the CWC co-sponsored Pitch Day, an annual event where entrepreneurs are selected to pitch their business ideas to potential investors and community members.
“Liza helped me take my ideas for products and take the next step with my business,” said Bob Fuziak, owner/inventor of Hind-Sight Industries. “Her knowledge and skills in finance, managing cash flow and networking were so important.” Fuziak has now launched a business with five patents and multiple products.
For Kathleen Neiley, owner of Full Circle Quilts, having a mentor who understands the challenges and obstacles entrepreneurs face is absolutely essential. Neiley’s company is a Wyoming based business that now employs a network of seamstresses throughout the state.
“For women in particular it is challenging in that funding for women startups is down. It is important for women to have mentors who understand the roadblocks and obstacles they will face,” Neiley said. “In Liza’s case, it is moral support, cheerleading, validating ideas while helping you pivot when you encounter obstacles. It is a long term relationship. Entrepreneurship is a tough road, especially for women.”
Millet not only teaches her mentees but she leads by example.
For the hundreds of entrepreneurs Millet has coached, encouraged and mentored, during a time when Wyoming’s economy is in need of innovation and growth, the evidence of her impact speaks for itself. Millet will continue to mentor entrepreneurs who want to grow new businesses in Wyoming; to support and grow the Wyoming economy. She has an upcoming class for the Start Up Intensive beginning this fall that she is recruiting for right now. Her persistence and knowledge have helped business leaders throughout the state.
“It took me a while to figure out my calling. My calling is to help people find their abundance, be it entrepreneurial, financial, whatever it might be. I feel honored to have received this award and to be doing what I love,” said Millet.