If you’re from Northeast Ohio, chances are you have seen or used one of the 500 businesses owned or operated by JCU graduates. Several of the 195 students in JCU’s entrepreneurship minor program are looking to add to this legacy by starting their own businesses right out of college.
Only three years after its creation, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked it as the best undergraduate entrepreneurship program in Northeast Ohio and 43rd best nationwide. Mark Hauserman, director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship, attributes the program’s success to its unique approach.
“It’s not all business, all the time,” said Hauserman. “One of the problems in a university is the disconnect between what you’re learning and what you want to do.”
Hauserman emphasized the importance of the creative, independent side of entrepreneurship that JCU students get in the program, and he estimated that about 75 percent of entrepreneurs are arts and science majors, as opposed to business majors.
“We are one of six student hatcheries in the United States. The hatchery is there to help students develop their ideas; whether they will develop into a business or not is a question,” said Hauserman.
A.J. Teresi, a senior communication major in the program, is working on a project of his own.
“Our corporate name is Summer College Solutions, but we’re going to be doing business as SMILE: Students Moving Ideas Launching Everywhere, which supports student entrepreneurship,” said Teresi.
The purpose of Teresi’s business is to pick up and store items for college students over the summer. He started working on it in October 2011. After graduation, he plans to work on growing the business, and hopes to bring it to nine other colleges in Northeast Ohio.
His goal is to get other college students involved in entrepreneurship. “The best way to describe [my business] is kind of an internship for students at their individual college where they make an hourly wage and five percent commission rate,” he said.
Two other students, seniors Katie Moss and Erika Port, are working on fulfilling their shared entrepreneurial dreams. Their idea is to sell artificial flowers and plant arrangements that are infused with aromatic scents. They recently bought a website called scentedarrangements.com where anyone can go to buy their arrangements.
“We are hoping to sell to a consumer level all the way up to a commercial level,” Port said.
They currently have five different stages where consumers can pick out plant arrangements, flower arrangements, customization and health and wellness.
Moss and Port have divvied up their roles and responsibilities within the business. Moss said, “I am going to be in charge of the creative process, and Erika is more marketing. I am taking classes on how to make flower arrangements and bouquets as well.”
Both seniors were enrolled in Entrepreneurship 102 in fall 2011, where they were put in a group together and had to present a final presentation. Port and Moss submitted their business idea into competitions and have won two out of three of them, including JCU’s own IdeaLab competition, which has proved to be a valuable networking tool.
“We are meeting with one of the judges we met at the competition because he wants to invest,” said Port.
They have also found the hatchery, located on the third floor of the Boler School of Business, to be very useful in their endeavors.
“We use it for meetings. Through John Carroll, we were given a mentor to help meet with us,” said Moss. “It really helps to use the resources that John Carroll can provide for us because otherwise we would have to pay for it ourselves.”
Hauserman said that JCU entrepreneurs will go out into the business world much more prepared than their peers.
“The last thing we want to do is send somebody out to start a business that is not going to be successful,” he said.