U Breaks Ground on New Building for Entrepreneurs


Brent Uberty

(Photo by Brent Uberty)

(Photo by Brent Uberty)
(Photo by Brent Uberty)

Entrepreneurship will soon have a new home at the U.
U President David Pershing and Pierre Lassonde, benefactor of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, broke ground on the future Lassonde Studios on Oct. 11. This building will fill an estimated 160,000 square feet of space on campus, replacing the parking lot southeast of the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building. The building will also include a 20,000-square-foot garage for students to work on entrepreneurial projects.
The Studios will have different living arrangements, including traditional single and double rooms, as well as lofts to house a total of 400 students. Each student would have their own “pod” space as an individual apartment, with living, working and cooking areas shared among roommates.
Mehrdad Yazdani, the building’s designer, called the design “unprecedented” and was eager to show the model of the pod spaces at the groundbreaking event.
“The purpose of the project is to bring a group of students from various disciplines and schools and promote their interaction, allow them to bring complementary skills together, act on their invention and form groups and companies,” Yazdani said.
David Toledo, a recent graduate in material science engineering, enjoyed his experience at the U in the Lassonde Center.
“The Lassonde Center was really instrumental in helping me bring together a team,” he said. “I’m an engineer, but I was starting a business.”
Toledo’s business, Power Practical, makes and sells PowerPot, a backpacking pot that generates electricity as it heats up.
“They helped me with business expertise like marketing, accounting, sales — all the things you need to have a fully functional business,” he said.
Pierre Lassonde was ecstatic throughout the whole event.
“I had two of the greatest years of my life right here at the University of Utah,” he said. “When it came down to where we were going to share our good fortune, this was a no-brainer.”
Kathy Hajeb, director of the Lassonde Institute, talked about the wide range of options that the program offers.
“We’re affiliated with the business school, but our focus is interdisciplinary, so we welcome all students from all over campus,” Hajeb said.
Trapper Roderick, a senior in entrepreneurship, worked with the Lassonde Institute to launch his business, True Gentleman Supply Co., with funding and guidance. He now credits the Institute for his success.
“You can’t ever give up,” he said. “There were months when I wanted to stop, but teachers and students motivated me to keep going when it was a rough month.”
The Studios are scheduled to open Fall 2016.
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