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Launch speaker did not plan changes in his career path

Alex Bruton
Alex Bruton will speak at Launch, which will be held Feb. 23 at the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center.

Alex Bruton did not always plan on being caught by the entrepreneurial spirit. Riding that wave, Bruton is the president of The Innographer, faculty director at the Spark School for Innovation by Design and co-founder of the Straight Up Business Institute.

Bruton, who was named the 2012 Entrepreneurial Educator in Canada, will be the Rickert Visiting Entrepreneur Speaker at the 12th annual South Dakota Entrepreneurship Education Conference Feb. 23 at the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center. South Dakota State University is hosting the event, which is also known as Launch, for the fifth-straight year.

“Some 12 years ago, I looked at my job and at the job my boss held and knew in my gut that neither was for me,” Bruton said. “So I left to join a startup and do an MBA. And, to keep the story short, it has taken me on a path helping innovators from Moscow to Mexico to Mason City, and a bunch of places in between, including an invited talk at Google. I couldn’t have imagined that.

“I'm fortunate to be both an entrepreneur and an educator. I spend my time helping people learn to innovate, but I have to admit I pretty much lucked into it,” he continued. “I love the energy involved in entrepreneurship. There's nothing like the feelings in the air that come from people who are chasing down things that inspire them.”

Bruton’s roles with The Innographer and the Spark School for Innovation by Design have shown him several things that he will share with conference attendees. The Innographer is a practical open education and innovation design firm with the mission of “helping people learn to innovate.”

“If you're in attendance at Launch, expect to be challenged about what it means to be entrepreneurial and about whether most of us are actually any good at it. We're not usually beyond a certain age,” he said. “At the same time, I'm going to argue that some of the basic competencies are absolutely learnable, and I'm going to give you some practical tools and approaches you can take away and put to use as soon as you get back to your classroom or workplace.

“I've spent about half of my career in academia and half in corporate and entrepreneurial contexts, and I've spent time in both technology-based businesses and social-impact ventures,” Bruton continued. “This experience and knowledge gives me an opportunity to speak in and translate between all of those languages, which I think is key to making innovation happen. And I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together!”

To register or find more information about the event, visit SDLaunch.com.