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301
12/1/2014
6610

Open Registration for Spring Term

Community registration for spring 2015 classes starts Monday, December 1. The spring semester begins on January 19.

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3456
12/6/2014 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
8882

Discovery Day

Want to visit us in person? Attend Discovery Day to experience campus life at FVTC.

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78910
111213
12/13/2014 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
6743

Winter 2014 Commencement Ceremony

Congratulations, graduates!

Location: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

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1415
12/15/2014 - 12/22/2014
16
12/15/2014 - 12/22/2014
17
12/15/2014 - 12/22/2014
18
12/15/2014 - 12/22/2014
19
20
12/15/2014 - 12/22/2014
21
12/15/2014 - 12/22/2014
222324
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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25
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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26
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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27
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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28
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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29
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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30
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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31
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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1
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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2
12/24/2014 - 1/2/2015
6615

College Closed for Winter Break

December 24, 2014-January 2, 2015 | All Locations
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3
45678910
1/10/2015 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
24516

Cooking Demo: Indian Cuisine Basics

Saturday, Jan. 10 | Join Chef Scott Finley as we go on a brief tour of Indian cuisine.

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Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Focus on the Entrepreneur

Focus on the Entrepreneur

Spring 2009

Mar 16, 2009

Building a Brighter Tomorrow

An Appleton couple launches a dynamic new energy business with the help of FVTC’s E-Seed program.

Patrick and Ingrid Nahm are self-described “nerds with a social conscience.” It’s a powerful combination that culminated in the launch of Appleton Solar, a provider of solar energy solutions for homes and businesses.

The Appleton couple decided to leverage their technical expertise to make the world greener. Patrick had 11 years of engineering, project management, and manufacturing experience. Ingrid was a scientist and hospital laboratory technologist who left a seven-year career to become a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s three young sons.

There was just one problem with their plan. “We both had the technical ability to understand solar energy and technology,” Patrick says, “but we didn’t understand the business side—the marketing, taxes, legalities, and all the other things that go into starting and planning a business.”

Noticing an ad for the E-Seed entrepreneurship training program at Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center, the Nahms, both 33, decided it was time to scratch their entrepreneurial itch. Patrick enrolled in the course and shared the materials and information with Ingrid. “There were two aspects of the course,” he says. “One was teaching me the nuts and bolts: writing a business plan and financial planning considerations for a business.”

The second aspect may not have come from a textbook, but it was just as important. “The other part was the networking piece,” Patrick says. “During every class a different speaker came in. One night it was a lawyer, another night it was a marketing person, another night it was an accounting person.”

The Nahms agree that the focus on networking skills sets FVTC apart. “You can get an MBA from a university online, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be successful in business,” Ingrid says. “It’s getting to talk to the people who are there in the community, and knowing you can always refer to them when you have questions. It’s all about building relationships.”

Doing the Right Thing

The Nahms launched Appleton Solar in January 2008 to help customers convert the sun’s light into usable electricity by means of a solar electric system. The company offers two services: site assessments for solar electric systems and the design and installation of these systems.

“Business was good the first year, and this year is looking to be even better,” Patrick notes. “On top of the existing rebates through Focus on Energy and local utility companies, people get an additional 30% off the cost of their system from the federal government. We expect that to dramatically improve the residential market in Wisconsin.”

Starting their own business was as much about doing the right thing as it was providing for their family. “We’ve seen what’s happening to our planet and we wanted to do something that was good for the environment, for the future, and for our children,” Patrick says.

The Nahms add that FVTC’s Venture Center was a valued partner in the creation of Appleton Solar. “The college doesn’t measure success by how many students go through the course, but by how successful the students are afterward,” Ingrid says. “The Venture Center and Fox Valley Tech are truly trying to help people start successful businesses.”

Green is Good

Is this the right time for entrepreneurs with environmentally friendly offerings?

Patrick and Ingrid Nahm aren’t the only entrepreneurs making green by going green. The marketplace is welcoming, even demanding, green technology and services in ways that would have been unthinkable even five years ago. “We’ve seen green businesses go from being categorized as the work of tree huggers to being completely mainstream,” notes Amy Pietsch, director of FVTC’s Venture Center.

Indeed, Pietsch expects the words “green” and “mainstream” to be synonymous before long. “Within five years, I don’t think we’ll be designating things as green, organic, or healthy,” she says. “Non-green, non-sustainable, non-environmentally friendly products will be eventually phased out in the marketplace.”

Of course, classifying a business as green doesn’t ensure survival. “Like any opportunity, the keys to success are smart planning and making sure that you’re solving a problem in the marketplace,” Pietsch says.