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Sunday, 19 January 2014 20:38

Startup School

Written by  Madison Edwards
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West Michigan’s colleges and universities are adding programs and contests aimed at budding entrepreneurs. From curriculums with an entrepreneurial emphasis to pitch and business plan competitions, the region’s institutes of higher education are building business programs that put academic theory into real-life practice.

Ferris State University’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business Institute hosts the NewGen StartUp Competition. Student participants submit a written business plan as well as a YouTube video pitch for review. Finalists are invited to participate in the live finals hosted at Start Garden. Ferris State students can get involved in entrepreneurship on campus through a number of entrepreneurial activities such as Global Entrepreneurship Week and numerous entrepreneurial speakers. Student organizations such as CEO – the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization – forge a link between the campus environment and the Grand Rapids business community.

Grand Valley State University’s Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation offers several academic courses geared toward entrepreneurship. Classes like Creativity & Entrepreneurship provide graduate students an active look into the role of entrepreneurs. All students are required to complete and present a business plan to a panel of professionals. Students can gain extracurricular experience presenting their business ideas at a host of GVSU competitions including the Business Plan Competition, Idea Pitch Competition and the $5 Challenge.  

The Business Plan Competition allows participants to develop communication skills by pitching their ideas to investors. Winners receive startup capital to launch their ventures. The Idea Pitch Competition provides budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to practice their 90-second elevator pitches. Students compete for a total of three prizes. The $5 Challenge is a daylong competition; all participants are supplied with $5 dollars in startup capital and are given 24 hours to develop a business. The company that brings in the most money at the end of the day gets to keep its earnings and is declared the winner. All entrepreneurial competitions are open to graduate and undergraduate level students.

Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business via its Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation offers a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and an MBA secondary concentration in entrepreneurship. MBA students gain entrepreneurial experience through Spartan Strategic Solutions. Second-year MBAs work as consultants to course clients for local businesses. The institute offers undergraduate and graduate pitch competitions, in which graduates compete for three prizes.

Western Michigan University has added a number of entrepreneurial resources over the past year to supplement its traditional MBA program. Innovations include: a speakers series called the Entrepreneurship Forum that highlights successful startups; a university-wide pitch competition that tests students’ business ideas and pitching skills; a business accelerator in downtown Kalamazoo dubbed Starting Gate where students can access resources to develop their own businesses. WMU offers MBA classes in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek.

Read 2727 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 January 2014 14:29

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