Hatching new businesses

October 7th, 2010

A new project will be implemented in the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship next semester. The Hatchery will be built in the center, located on the third floor of the Boler School of Business, to provide resources to students who have their own business or who have business plans. The new center will be equipped with various resources to help selected students implement their business strategy.

Mark Hauserman, director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship said the center took a study of other universities with similar programs.

“We did a study of the top thirteen programs [for entrepreneurship] in the U.S.,” he said. “Belmont University in Tennessee had a program similar to the Hatchery.”

Hauserman said the area will virtually be open “24 hours a day.” Students can access the Hatchery through a key fob system.

Inside the Hatchery there will be resources like telephones, computers, fax machine, copier, conference area, internet phone system and white board.

Hauserman said one unique aspect will be the Voice Operated Internet Phones (VOIP) that will allow students to have their own business number that will be able to connect to their cell phones.

The construction and office supplies are all funded through donations from guests who attended the Muldoon Awards Dinner on Sept. 19.

Brian Sprafka, a member of the Entrepreneurs Association (EA), a group of about 200 business owners in the area, is in charge of the Student Entrepreneurship Liaison Committee.

Students will make an application to be in the Hatchery which will be reviewed and either approved or denied by the liaison committee.

“Submit a plan of action with [a] business plan or ideas and if [it] sounds like a reasonable venture then the application would be accepted,” Hauserman said.

After the student is accepted into the program they will be assigned a business coach from the entrepreneurship association. This mentor will be selected to help the student in specific areas, be it marketing, management or finance for one semester.

After a semester, the plan will be reviewed, a new mentor may be assigned, and the idea taken to reality bridge or dropped.

“The mentors are skilled in self proclaimed areas of business,” Hauserman said.

Seniors Corey Pender and Paul Merrill will be managers of the Hatchery office space. Currently both work in the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship through work study.

Merrill said that although he is not studying to receive the entrepreneurship minor, he still has participated in some of the other programs that are available like Idea Lab and Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW).

“I think that the Hatchery will definitely bring awareness to the entrepreneurship program, Idea Lab and EIW which are all good experiences,” Merrill said.

Derek Soeder, a sophomore who is currently enrolled in the third class of the minor, said the lessons have been beneficial.

“The classes exceeded my expectation,” he said. “We learned things that not only will help us in entrepreneurship, but in any field.”

He thinks the Hatchery will lend to a more practical use for the knowledge gained in the classroom.

“I have a couple of ideas that were too complicated to be [implemented] in any classroom project so far,” he said. “I think the Hatchery will be the perfect outlet for screening my business products to see if any can actually happen.”

Not only is Merrill excited to help manage the Hatchery he also wants to be one of the first businesses involved in the process.

“I have a business, Carroll Cuts, a lawn care business for the surrounding community. I’m looking forward to being one of the guinea pig projects for the Hatchery,” he said.

As more details are set for when construction is to begin, Hauserman is seeing a vision become tangible and some goals being met. He said the Entrepreneurship program has three main objectives.

“One is to support the student; two, give EA members an opportunity to give back by mentoring the student and use their expertise to guide them; and three is to provide recognition to students and the program.”

The ultimate goal for the University program is to become one of the top 25 entrepreneurship programs in the country.

“This is another piece in the puzzle,” Hauserman said.

Presently this program is not tied to any academic project, so students won’t be able to receive credit for the work done in the Hatchery, but Hauserman said that he will be looking into that option in the future.