NVD Program Graduate Wins COX Sustainability Prize

Dec. 6, 2023
Andrew Arias

­In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, stories of perseverance often arise, and the Eller College of Management often has particularly inspiring ones. Andrew Arias ’23 BS, a recent alum of the New Venture Development Program (NVD)­ in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, is one such individual who has not only embraced the challenges of entrepreneurship but has also made significant strides for his startup, NexoTerra LLC. NexoTerra’s mission is to repurpose cannabis plant waste sustainably, and he intends to succeed in this mission. 

For Arias, the journey to Eller was far from conventional. A chance conversation at an event with an acquaintance sparked his interest in the NVD program. Inspired by the idea of owning his own business and his passion for sustainability, his decision to join the NVD program marked a fundamental moment in his entrepreneurial venture. Arias found the NVD program became the facilitator for his involvement into the world of entrepreneurship, providing a transformative experience that laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

The NVD program provided him with the knowledge, confidence and practical skills necessary to begin creating and executing compelling pitch decks for funding opportunities. Arias’ practiced skills came to fruition in his participation in the TENWEST 2023 Idea Funding pitch competition, where he pitched NexoTerra's vision. Arias secured the "COX Conserves Sustainability" prize—a testimony to NexoTerra's commitment to environmental impact. 

Reflecting on his journey, Arias said, “If I had not gone through the year-long program of NVD, I do not think I would be this far into starting my own company. After many hours of practicing for pitches and doing them, NVD has given me confidence in my voice.” This highlights the invaluable role that the program played in empowering Arias to take significant strides in building his entrepreneurial venture.

Since leaving Eller, Arias has faced the challenges of being a young Latino entrepreneur in a field where funding opportunities can be scarce. Nevertheless, he's tackling these obstacles head-on, steering NexoTerra with determination.

To students embarking on their college careers, Arias advises, “…give things a chance, accept a challenge and see it through, be patient with yourself and dare to live your own dreams. Believing in yourself sometimes can be really hard. I am still working on that, but when in doubt, I look back at everything that I have been able to accomplish and remind myself of what I am made of.” Confidence, he notes, stems from certainty and control—two elements he finds in his commitment to solving agricultural waste management issues with NexoTerra.

As Arias forges ahead, the Eller College stands as a beacon of entrepreneurial education, shaping individuals like him who not only dream of a better future but actively work towards creating it. Arias is not just a graduate of the NVD program but an embodiment of Eller's commitment to fostering innovation, resilience, and purpose-driven entrepreneurship.