The Center for Entrepreneurship provides students from across the university with the tools to take their future into their own hands while also assisting businesses in the community. With more than 1,100 students enrolled in entrepreneurial courses at the College of Business and many more participating in events and workshops every year, the center helps develop the skills to start, operate and grow a business.
“We are here to meet students wherever they may be in their entrepreneurial journey, whether it’s working through an idea or strategizing how to raise capital. Even if a student doesn’t end up starting a business, they gain a much greater sense of business and how the startup community operates,” said Samuel Nelson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of practice in management. “We also serve as a hub for connections and resources for the business community.”
Led by management faculty with research expertise and real-world experience with starting and growing businesses, the center also helps provide students with experience in theory and practice in and out of the classroom. Their research background also helps existing business owners with solutions to real problems.
“Students are eager to hear and learn from our faculty members because what is being talked about in classes is extremely applicable to situations in the real world,” Nelson said. “They also wanted to be connected to entrepreneurs in the community.”
The center also hosts business leaders, founders and investors who pass on their experience and advice. Students often discover more opportunities through the center’s strong connections throughout the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“We utilize our wide network of community partners and former students in class or over lunch to talk about how they got to where they are now. The students learn from someone who was in their shoes and found a way to succeed,” Nelson said. “We’re always looking to grow our network of partners and business leaders to help cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
Competitions are also held for students in and out of the university, as well as high school students, to enhance their entrepreneurial talents. Their four signature events include the Innovation Challenge, 3-2-1 Quick Pitch, the 48-Hour Challenge and the New Venture Competition.
While competing to earn $80,000 in cash prizes throughout the year, students collaborate with peers and expand their network while also developing the skills necessary to start and operate a business.
“Thanks to the generosity of our partners, we’re not only able to strengthen the entrepreneurial talents of students, but we’re also able to help them realize their business goals through cash prizes,” said Nelson.
The center also provides a space for students to connect and engage with each other. Nelson stated how students can often be found in the space discussing ideas and helping each other.
“The center serves as a safe and welcome environment to come and hang out. We take great pride in so many students and business partners connecting with one another in the center because we know the discussions happening in those moments are going to someday change the future of business,” he said.