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Young innovators learn entrepreneurial insights with alum Armand Patella


Armand Patella giving a talk

Written by Stephanie Saldivar

On March 8, The Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab hosted a Fireside chat with WVU alum Armand Patella. Patella is an accomplished serial tech entrepreneur, investor, board member, and founder of Appalachian Labs, LLC, Nowsta, and On-Deck.

With eager attentiveness, the engaged audience embraced several moments as the jovial energetic racountour shared his valuable entrepreneurial wisdom highlighting a few early moments of his journey, providing venture capital guidance and imparting his perspective on the fear of failure, mentorship, and networking.  

He advocates using your passion for the problem to understand your customer's needs deeply. Patella said, "You need to know operational business, your customers extremely well, your customer problems, because that's going to dictate everything that goes into the roadmap." He highlighted that to attain an investment audience, you need to be comfortable with living in a mosaic realm, understanding your business's present and future potential.

Patella recounted an experience using a creative approach to solve a problem. "I was running into a problem where it's like, we weren't real, we were choked out in terms of resources, and especially engineering resources." He identified a conference in which he could connect with his target market. Unable to attend the actual conference, he held a personalized event for his customer base the night before. He reassured, problems and issues will arise; however, fostering a mindset open to opportunities is vital for success.

"The most interesting things I think I've ever done in my life, I did them scared," Patella said. 

The audience responded through heartful chuckles, as Patella described how he channels his fear into motivation instead of as a deterrent. He reinforced using critical thinking skills to recognize and compartmentalize the issue allowing him to problem solve. Regardless of the results, he said he views all networking interactions as achievements, whether practicing his pitch or obtaining an investor.

He also encourages utilizing the internet's vast networking potential in socially following the enterprising community. "And then eventually, you reach out to somebody and you say, ‘Hey?! I have this specific question for you’ that you couldn't get from anything else you could find out about them on the internet," Patella said, as he described the unfolding of a networking relationship with a very affluent connection because he seized an opportunity to follow her endeavors and connect with her via email.

Commitment to your business, creativity, dedication, development to your idea, and belief in yourself are integral components to success for Patella that anyone can apply.