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Mar 11 2011

High Tech Entrepreneur Inspires Students to Reach for New Heights

New York, N.Y. (March 11, 2011) – As Greg Olsen, Ph.D., floated in outer space in 2005, a bell rang to note that he was the newest space traveler at the International Space Station (ISS). That bell signaled the newest level of success in his career. 

“The secret to life is three words – don’t give up,” Olsen, a high tech entrepreneur, told an enthusiastic audience at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway.

Olsen’s talk “From Entrepreneurship to Spaceship,” on March 9, described his route through business ventures to become the third private citizen in the world to orbit the Earth. He recalled coming up with the idea of traveling to space while sipping a latte in Starbucks. He endured nine rejections because of health concerns over three years, and then took part in five months of intensive training before spending 10 days in space. There, he orbited 150 times, logging nearly almost 4 million miles of weightless travel.

NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., introduced Olsen as an example of the “foundation of entrepreneurship in America.” He added that it was appropriate that an accomplished entrepreneur such as Olsen was addressing students in New York City, the heart of “start-up America.”

Inspired by Olsen’s stories, students asked about today’s high tech market and trends in business. They also sought advice for future entrepreneurs and wondered what qualities he looks for when hiring employees.

“If you have drive, then you can start a business,” he said. “Take a good look at the trends, but ultimately, follow your dreams.”

Olsen showed video highlights of his trip, with scenes of him drinking water without gravity, using the Internet with his feet in the air, and being strapped to his bed while sleeping.

“The best part of my trip was being weightless for 10 days,” he said. “Earth looks like a big blue sphere, but there are no obvious signs of life on Earth during the day, which is only 45 minutes in space.”

Olsen has owned two high tech companies, EPITAXX and Sensors Unlimited. He is the founder and president of GHO Ventures, LLC, where he manages investments that include a South African winery, a Montana ranch, and technology companies. He has also been awarded a dozen patents.

Olsen told students about his experiences buying and selling companies using market knowledge while relying on his instincts. He attributed the success of his companies to the workers.

“Good managers work for their employees, not vice versa,” he said. “Business is not about technology or markets – it is about people, and people are successful because of perseverance.”

Presented by the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Olsen’s lecture was the third in NYIT’s 21st-Century Leaders Speakers Series. 

About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in more than 90 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has more than 15,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 85,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit


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