Mason Love wasn't sure what he wanted to do after graduating high school in the spring.
He was looking for life's next big challenge, which prompted him to attend Moore Norman Technology Center in the fall and enroll in the Entrepreneurship program.
Just a few months later, Love found his passion.
Love recently founded a business and has been working on building it from the ground up this semester. His business, Rusentic, focuses on putting logos and other designs on rustic, authentic leather bag tags as a way to help advertise for local businesses. Rusentic was awarded first place at the Norman Innovation Challenge last week, where several Moore Norman Technology Center students were challenged to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.
While he has found his passion with Rusentic, that was not his original goal.
"When I came to [MNTC], I really didn't know what I wanted to do," Love said. "My teacher (Nancy Pierce) challenged us to come up with a business idea earlier this semester, and it got me thinking about business ideas that I would be passionate about."
Early in the semester, Love and other entrepreneurship students were taken to the OU Innovation Hub and were given a tour of the facility. The students were shown the different services that were offered at the Hub, including a laser cutting machine that was able to cut through various items such as wood and leather.
That's when Love had the idea for Rusentic.
"I had the idea that I could do it myself. They told us that Moore Norman students could come to the Hub for free and use the laser cutter as much as we want. I knew that could be a really big opportunity for me."
His instructor, Nancy Pierce, said her classes routinely visit the Hub because of its value to the community. In Love's case, it helped inspire his business idea.
"I saw the light turn on with him and his product (at the Hub)," Pierce said. "His confidence level grew hour by hour. He started understanding Rusentic could become a reality. He's one of those kids that if he starts something, he finishes it."
Love started driving to the Hub in his spare time and began working on prototypes. He started sketching different designs and cutting them into different types of wood and leather.
Once he got comfortable, he began looking for opportunities to work with local businesses to engrave their logos on bag tags. Love said he was interested in looking for ways to help.
"It was an opportunity to help other small businesses. I could help them and they could help me. It gave me an opportunity to help them advertise and it gave me a chance to work on my skills," he said.
In November, Love decided to showcase Rusentic at the OU Entrepreneurship Expo. The expo gives young entrepreneurs from OU and the technology center the chance to talk with others about their business and receive feedback on their ideas.
Love was selected as one of the three technology center students at the expo to compete at the Norman Innovation Challenge for the chance to win $500. Students were required to give a 10-minute presentation to judges prior to the event, and then pitch the idea in 90 seconds to attendees of the event.
When Love was selected as the technology center winner, he knew it was a sign he was headed in the right direction. While Love has three more semesters at MNTC, he said he wants to continue building Rusentic after he graduates.
"I've found that running this business myself and crafting the tags and getting this far in such a short period of time, it's been a great encouragement," Love said. "I got some good feedback from the judges at the event and I feel like I know how to continue."
Anyone who is interested in Rusentic can contact Love at 405-401-0204.
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