Mike Norton: Athlete to Entrepreneur
Ever since he can remember, Mike Norton dreamed of playing lacrosse in college on the East Coast where he grew up. He didn’t intend on applying to BYU until his mom made him apply at the last minute. But after getting accepted and realizing he could play lacrosse in a wholesome environment like BYU, Norton decided to try it out.
When Norton came to BYU, he not only fulfilled his passion to play lacrosse, but also uncovered an academic passion: entrepreneurship.
“I came here by mistake, but it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Norton says. “Playing with the BYU lacrosse team has been a unique and humbling experience and just being in Provo got me involved with the startup scene.”
Norton was always interested in how things work in business and where products come from, as evidenced by his starting a lawn-care business at age sixteen. This curiosity led him to take the Entrepreneurship Lecture Series offered through the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. The course gave Norton many opportunities to meet with successful entrepreneurs and inspired him to learn more.
Norton is now on a path to mirror those successful entrepreneurs. He is currently working with two startup companies, building connections through the Rollins Center, and working with faculty and students as president of the Entrepreneurship Association.
“I love networking and I love people,” Norton says. “I got in touch with people who love to create and do new things, who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They opened doors for me to see that you can do other things than just a typical business major.”
One of the doors Norton opened in his entrepreneurial pursuits came by leveraging the resources of BYU Tech Transfer, an office protecting and selling patents to any technological invention created on campus. There Norton had an idea for a startup when he found a more efficient car transmission. Norton closed the deal on what he calls the continually variable transmission in November 2016 and is already working with a business partner to restore their first car.
“A lot of people don’t know about the resources available,” Norton says. “Many people think you just need to come up with an idea, but there are different ways to creating a business. You have people of different expertise inventing solutions to problems and then you can be that someone who has an idea to take it to the market.”
As Norton has gotten to know people involved with entrepreneurship, he has studied the source of their ambition, enthusiasm, and happiness. Much of what he has heard comes down to the thrill of simply having their own ventures and being in charge of their own company.
“I really admire entrepreneurs because creating new companies comes with a lot of hard work and a lot of risk,” Norton says. “But if you’re able to tolerate that risk, the reward is there as you make it happen.”