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Attracting and Connecting Entreprenuers

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Thursday, November 14, 2013

So many good ideas here at the summit. I hope this blog captures the essence if you could not attend.

Treps = Entrepreneurs

Moderator - Dr. Shari Olson


  • Randall Kimmens
  • Greg Strzelcyk
  • Bruce McHenry
  • Tim Mittan

Why entrepreneurship now? 

Randall - We are all entrepreneurs. We are all running our own lives. Students should know entrepreneurship, ethics and what it means to be part of global economy.

Bruce - He asks his students, "How many of you want to start a business?" All of them raise their hands. Students see entrepreneurship as a pathway to get control of their life and the contribution they make. "We can all be entrepreneurial academics." 

Tim - Gallop poll finds that 60+% of 16 year olds want to be in their own business. Think of impact these students can make on their local economy. There is too much to lose to ignore these entrepreneurial yearnings.

Greg - Entrepreneurship fosters innovation that helps reduce costs to in turn fuel more businesses to start.

 Shari - Bruce is right. "We can all be entrepreneurial academics."  We NEED to be.


How do you engage entrepreneurs? 

Bruce: Time is the most scare resource that treps have. To engage them, you need to find value to offer them to get them to leave their office. Also try to connect treps together so they can share their best practices.

Tim: Treps want to know that what you are teaching can also benefit as existing company. Think about what can you teach them.

Greg - My company offers a consultative approach. Treps want to know about new technologies or innovations but they do not know where to start. 

Randall - It is about relationship building. Get out there and talk to the treps. What are they struggling with in their specific business. As a District, we try to be driven by student success but also by facilitating the growth of existing businesses.

Shari: As a system of many colleges, we not only share idea for running programs but also entrepreneurs. We want the treps to have access to ALL of our systems resources.


New Opportunities for Treps

Tim - We created a business incubator. We found out our students were not interested so we opened it up to community. We found that there was a need for ongoing support for existing small businesses. Community was in the middle of everything we did.

Greg - His company created a pay as you go model for his small business customers.

Randall - Build community with local economic development company. We also brought in PTAC. Educate partners about what they do not know. Educate them about the services that they all provide. Make sure that these service providers let the entrepreneurs know. 

Bruce- Create a cohort of 40 students. They each get $250 via NACCE/Coleman grant to seed their business. (also great plug for NACCE membership. Thanks Bruce!) Also, treps take a story telling course. If you are selling/pitching, you are a story teller. 


What is your advice for colleges starting an entrepreneurship program?

Greg - Community colleges play vital role with young entrepreneurs. Give them real life scenarios. Give hands on experience via internships.

Randall - Help students assess if they are an entrepreneur. Do they have the personality to do it? 

Bruce - Remember as academics and center directors, we too are entrepreneurs! Do what you teach. Test, learn, pivot and fail. Engage the whole college.

Tim - Get support from the top. 

Tags:  NACCE Rio Salado Summit 

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