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Breakout Notes: The Best Entrepreneurship Education: Doing it!

Posted By Jeanne Yocum, Monday, October 14, 2013

Dr. Anita Bleffert-Schmidt from SUNY-Ulster talks about the advantages of experiential or action learning. One of the big ones is that it spurs community action and brings businesses closer to your institution.


For students themselves, this Chinese proverb sums it up: I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand.


Mindy Kole, of SUNY-Ulster, described a student-run business they’re starting called Community Creations. This will be a kiosk in the cafeteria featuring products from local artisans. Embedded it in the entrepreneurship curriculum; every student that comes through the e-ship track will work on the business. It’s 40% of their grade in the e-ship course.


(At first they tried running the kiosk as a club but it was hard to get people to show up; this mirrors the experience of another college that spoke at one of the pre-conference events yesterday.)


They are in the third term of students who worked on this. First term, the students did research on campus as to what the student-run business should be. They developed a survey and got 230 surveys back. Based on that information, they wrote a business plan.


Last fall, they received a Colman Grant for the start-up costs. So in the spring the students started working in teams and each team functioned as a department. There was a kiosk team, who needed to go out and find a builder. Another team worked on the website. One team worked with local entrepreneurs on how they would get products into the kiosk. Other teams worked on accounting and marketing.


They received tremendous campus support, which was critical. For example, an accounting professor worked with the team, training them in QuickBooks. Security worked with them on developing policies to help ensure policies about how the cash is handled on campus. College attorneys reviewed the consignment agreement. The cafeteria donated a cash register and gave them space for the kiosk. Consider the culture of your institution to understand whether this type of support will be possible to achieve.


The business is run as a consignment business; 60% of proceeds of a sale go to the artisan and 40% go back to support the business.


Make sure you don't step on the toes of other campus businesses, like the cafeteria or the book store.


A key success factor is bringing in the community. In this case, the students found the artisans and worked with them on pricing, etc.


For more info on the project Mindy talked about, check Center or @mkole on Twitter.


Second Example

James Matlack described KCKCC Made, a student run business at Kansas City Kansas Community College. This is structured very differently from the previously described business.


What they were finding in everything noncredit re: entrepreneurship, they weren’t getting students involved. So they did some research including surveys and did a SWOT analysis. Narrowed the reasons down to five reasons why students weren’t attending:

What is in it for me? Average is early 30s, leading busy lives, need to let them know why this is of value to them.

$$ - need to do something that generates from income for students.

"Hide” the education – wanted to create a program in which people learned without knowing they were being educated.

Confidence – all in it together – found students were intimidated by consulting sessions, so needed to get them some confidence.

Exposure – professors said there were a lot of great ideas among the students but they weren’t getting exposure.


So they launched KCKCC Made, which sells products made by students, faculty or staff at the KCKCC bookstore. Also includes marketing support and business consulting. People are required to do two consulting sessions with the SBDC in order to sell in the business. So they see a benefit to the sessions and they love it. They also have to  demonstrate that they have some sort of business plan in process.


At first the bookstore was reluctant, but the students met with them and convinced them that it would help draw traffic to the store so they got on board.


This model is based on supporting the entrepreneur and getting their business off the ground and helping them be successful. But then the students are running the business. The students aren’t there actually doing the selling; the products are in a defined section of the bookstore but the bookstore takes care of the retail portion of it and tracks sales. The students did things like writing the consignment agreement, etc. The participation of students is extra curricular, not credit. Students in Free Enterprise run it.


One product sold is a barbeque sauce that is sold in 10 states; on the other side is a student who makes jewelry between classes. So they have people with different intentions as far as growing a business. Currently have 15 entrepreneurs, 12 of which are students. They are launching an online portion. They’re also working on an idea for selling services.For services, they decided they would require that the student or faculty member would have to own 25% of the parent business in order to qualify.


For more information, James’ Twitter account is  @WFD–KCK.












Tags:  NACCE  NACCE2013  student-run businesses 

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