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Student Entrepreneur Blade Taylor Looks to the Future as His ‘Own Boss’

By Noell Saunders

When student entrepreneur Blade Taylor came to Old Dominion University in 2015 he had one thing on his mind - networking.

He followed through.

The resources and tools he received during his three years at Old Dominion University helped him turn a high school business idea into a thriving company.

Taylor, who will receive a bachelor's degree in marketing, will join about 2,900 graduates at the University's 128th commencement exercises on May 4 and 5 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Taylor, a Virginia native, had been accepted into the Harvard Extension School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But he was leaning toward ODU after hearing positive feedback from a friend about its entrepreneurship program.

"The minute I set foot on this campus for a tour, I knew I wanted to be part of the forefront of entrepreneurship here, so I chose ODU," Taylor said.

Taylor's 3D printing business, 3DXtremes, started in a shared working area at ODU's Strome Entrepreneurial Center. It recently moved to ODU's Innovation Center in downtown Norfolk for more space.

"This was our first big step in getting out of the safe zone of having a rent-free space at ODU," Taylor said. "It was a phenomenal place to get started, and now our next step is to operate independently."

The company, which mainly works with private inventors to help turn ideas into products, has expanded its reputation in the community. 3D Xtremes has worked with the Army and S.B. Ballard Construction to train officials on how to use equipment and design concept models for buildings.

Nancy Grden, executive director of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center, said she was impressed with Taylor's skills from the beginning.

"Blade exemplifies entrepreneurship, as we see with his problem-solving, initiative, continuous improvement and communication skills," said Grden. "In addition, he has been a leader here at our center, partnering directly with other entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses."

Taylor began making an impressive mark long before college. In his last two years of high school, he was accepted into the Virginia Governor's School Program for gifted students. He graduated as the valedictorian from Greensville County High School in Emporia in 2015.

But Taylor's success didn't come stress-free. There were times, he said, when he wondered if he could actually do it all.

"Working as a one-man team, being a student, having a job and running a business is not easy," he said. "Before you try to do anything, you need to do everything."

After graduation, Taylor will work for the technology firm Electronic Systems, Inc. in Virginia Beach as a sales and marketing consultant while running his business in the evenings. Electronic Systems, Inc. has a partnership with ODU's Strome College of Business.

"Blade has demonstrated outstanding maturity and drive to succeed," said Steve Schultz, a lecturer in the Department of Marketing and one of Taylor's professors. "We are supporting our partner Electronic Systems by providing a great student."

Taylor plans to stick around at ODU to help out when he can and share his story with other students and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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