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Launching Ventures Beyond the Classroom

Get to Know the Venture College

Venture College is a Boise State resource hub for all students and faculty to learn skills that help them become entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers.

Since 2014, over 100 students have launched businesses and nonprofits that have collectively generated millions in revenue. Three have raised funding from investors. Dozens have won seed money in competitions. All have benefited from our 200+ person mentor network and resources. 

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Three Phases of Student Engagement + Growth

The Pyramid of Success

Foundational Learning: Through a series of workshops, classes, and programs, Venture College helps students acquire core entrepreneurial and critical thinking skills.

Experiential Learning: Venture College provides students with learn-by-doing opportunities to acquire career readiness skills and experiences. Experiences include competitions, internships, and mixers.

Incubation: Venture College is the exclusive on-campus source for startup incubation, acceleration and launch. Students who get accepted into the Venture College Incubator have full access to Venture College’s downtown location, including: personal work space, conference rooms, access to the maker lab, printing and office supplies, and more.

Meet the team

  • Nic Miller

    Executive Director

    Nic leads the Venture College, where students acquire entrepreneurial skills and apply those skills in launching new ventures.

    Prior to joining Boise State University, Nic was the Director of Economic Development for the City of Boise. In this role, Nic helped to launch Trailhead, downtown Boise’s premier co-working space and startup hub. He also led the City’s efforts in business recruitment, bringing over 1,000 jobs to the Boise area. During Nic’s five years in his role at the City of Boise, there was significant private investment made via innovative public-private partnerships, resulting in increased job creation and economic growth.

    Nic has experience in workforce development, education, and economic development through public and private sector work, as well as startup experience in the agricultural technology industry. Nic earned his BA in History from the University of Idaho.

    Nic leads the Venture College, where students acquire entrepreneurial skills and apply those skills in launching new ventures.

    Prior to joining Boise State University, Nic was the Director of Economic Development for the City of Boise. In this role, Nic helped to launch Trailhead, downtown Boise’s premier co-working space and startup hub. He also led the City’s efforts in business recruitment, bringing over 1,000 jobs to the Boise area. During Nic’s five years in his role at the City of Boise, there was significant private investment made via innovative public-private partnerships, resulting in increased job creation and economic growth.

    Nic has experience in workforce development, education, and economic development through public and private sector work, as well as startup experience in the agricultural technology industry. Nic earned his BA in History from the University of Idaho.

  • Ryan Vasso

    Ryan Vasso

    Associate Director

    In 2013, after graduating from Boise State with an English Literature degree, Ryan was invited to join Venture College’s 2nd cohort to develop and launch his business concept. Within one year of attending Venture College, Ryan went on to raise over $500,000 from northwest investors, including the Boise Angel Alliance. With the seed investment, he was able to hire Boise employees, build production-ready software, and scale his business.

    Today, Ryan is still the founder and CEO of his company, Reply Pro, a review management platform. In addition, he manages all programs and operations for Venture College.

    In 2013, after graduating from Boise State with an English Literature degree, Ryan was invited to join Venture College’s 2nd cohort to develop and launch his business concept. Within one year of attending Venture College, Ryan went on to raise over $500,000 from northwest investors, including the Boise Angel Alliance. With the seed investment, he was able to hire Boise employees, build production-ready software, and scale his business.

    Today, Ryan is still the founder and CEO of his company, Reply Pro, a review management platform. In addition, he manages all programs and operations for Venture College.

  • Ed Zimmer

    Programs Manager

    Ed and Kevin Learned were the founding directors of the Venture College in 2013. Ed continues to lead many of the programs and volunteer activities. He retired as CEO of ECCO Group in 2009 after a twenty-four year career, where the company grew from twenty to over 500 employees with plants in Boise, England, and Australia. Before joining ECCO he served as the Olympic Coordinator for USA Gymnastics and as Head Gymnastics Coach at the University of Washington and Boise State. He served as Executive in Residence for the Division of Research at Boise State, and led the capital campaign to build the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial. He has degrees from Miami-Dade Community College and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Today Ed splits his time between Venture College and as CEO of Blac-Rac Manufacturing Co, a Boise based early stage company.

    Ed and Kevin Learned were the founding directors of the Venture College in 2013. Ed continues to lead many of the programs and volunteer activities. He retired as CEO of ECCO Group in 2009 after a twenty-four year career, where the company grew from twenty to over 500 employees with plants in Boise, England, and Australia. Before joining ECCO he served as the Olympic Coordinator for USA Gymnastics and as Head Gymnastics Coach at the University of Washington and Boise State. He served as Executive in Residence for the Division of Research at Boise State, and led the capital campaign to build the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial. He has degrees from Miami-Dade Community College and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Today Ed splits his time between Venture College and as CEO of Blac-Rac Manufacturing Co, a Boise based early stage company.

  • Cara Van Sant

    Marketing & Communications Manager

    Cara joined the Venture College after working as an Executive Assistant to the cofounders of an early stage startup. Prior to this role, she served as Capital Campaign Coordinator at the Boise Public Library, and Executive Assistant in the City of Boise Mayor’s Office. Cara graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and International Affairs, and a Business minor. After graduating, she worked in the corporate world in Seattle, but was excited to move back to her hometown here in Boise.

    Cara joined the Venture College after working as an Executive Assistant to the cofounders of an early stage startup. Prior to this role, she served as Capital Campaign Coordinator at the Boise Public Library, and Executive Assistant in the City of Boise Mayor’s Office. Cara graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and International Affairs, and a Business minor. After graduating, she worked in the corporate world in Seattle, but was excited to move back to her hometown here in Boise.

Venture College Advisory Team

  • Eric Gilbert

    Co-Founder, Treefort Music Fest

  • HannaLore Hein

    State Historian, Idaho State Historical Society

  • Janessa White

    Co-Founder, Simply Eloped

  • Jessica Flynn

    Founder & CEO, Red Sky

  • John Hale

    Managing Partner, Atticus Holdings LLC

  • Kathy O’Neill

    Community Engagement Director, JUMP

  • Megan Lacy

    Chief Design Officer + Co-Founder, Lumineye

  • Nick Crabbs

    Partner & Vice President of Community Engagement, VYNYL + Co-Chair, Boise Startup Week

  • Roger Hancock

    CEO, Recall InfoLink

  • Sue Latta

    Artist/Owner, The Sculpture Studio + Lecturer, School of the Arts at BSU

  • Tara Russell

    President, Fathom + Global Impact Lead, Carnival Corporation & PLC

  • Tiam Rastegar

    Executive Director, Trailhead Boise