By Steve Eaton
There is only so much you can learn about sailing by reading books and listening to lectures.
Before attempting to captain a sailing vessel, sailors need to practice and experience first-hand the challenge of the wind and the will of the water.
Photo by Sterling Morris
Dave Clark, executive director of entrepreneurial programs, says the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business is creating opportunities for students to get outside the classroom, hoist their own sails and test their innovative instincts.
“We are creating real-world experiences that will prepare students for the complexities of the business world in a way that goes beyond classroom work,” he said.
Last year 15 students helped create the New Venture Consulting Group (http://huntsman.usu.edu/venture/). If a student or someone in the community has an idea, they can take their business plan to the group and have it evaluated, Mr. Clark said.
“The students receive an unparalleled educational experience by being exposed to those business plans,” Mr. Clark said. “And they add value to the people who have developed those business plans by reviewing them and giving them feedback.”
This fall there are plans to launch the New Venture Development Group that will actually generate new ideas and launch businesses.
Creating these kinds of opportunities for students, however, requires additional funding. Enter the Entrepreneur Founders Board, a group of 13 active entrepreneurs who share a vision of what a top-tier institution can do to prepare students for the business world.
Members of the Founders Board not only give of their time but they each donate thousands of dollars to fund things like the annual e-Week festivities, which include an elevator pitch contest, imported expert speakers and a 72-hour business competition.
Photo by Sterling Morris
“When you start talking about experiences and programs that are structured outside of a classroom setting at a university, you need resources that go beyond what would typically be made available to students through the university itself,” Mr. Clark said. “The way we’re attempting to accomplish that is with the support of the Founders Board.”
Board members have weathered the storms all businesses face, and they are willing to share what they’ve learned with students.
“They’re wonderful people,” Mr. Clark said. “They have a wide range of business and educational experience. They are still very active in their entrepreneurial endeavors. These are people who can relate to what the students are doing right now and to whom the students can relate.”
Board members remember what it was like to be just starting out, and they want to help.
“In our economy today and in this world in which we live, I believe that young people need to have that step up that allows them to learn and stand on my back and the backs of everyone who is here,” said board member Paul Woodland. Members often seek out opportunities to interact with the students. He said their expertise and contributions are laying the foundation for some great things at USU.
“What we really want is to be recognized as a place where students can come to have an unparalleled education in the classroom and beyond,” Mr. Clark said.