Entrepreneurship contest created in remembrance of John Soper

October 17th, 2013

The goal: To create an entrepreneurial project that addresses a community issue or need. The possibilities: Endless.

John Carroll University students from freshman to senior status have the opportunity to enter the John C. Soper Contest for Social Entrepreneurship for a chance to win $500 and further develop their idea with the JCU Hatchery. With a heavy dose of creativity and teamwork, students will collaborate to develop project proposals to present in front of a panel of judges on Nov. 4.

Soper, an economics professor in the Boler School of Business, passed away this August after dedicating 31 years to the JCU community as an educator and mentor. He was a key force in developing the entrepreneurship minor at JCU, which has received honors for the top undergraduate entrepreneurship program in Ohio by Bloomberg Businessweek.

Soper was also a visiting professor at the Oslo Business School in Norway and a prolific researcher. He earned the Henry H. Villard Award for research contributions in the field of economic education. His strong involvement in establishing the entrepreneurship minor at JCU led to a designation on the John Templeton Foundation honor roll. Soper’s wife, Judith Brenneke, was also involved in the development of the entrepreneurship minor. She has taught courses in the entrepreneurship minor, including social entrepreneurship, and will be one of the judges on Nov. 4.

In memory of Soper, Mark Hauserman, director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship, and Jackie Schmidt, interim director of the Entrepreneurship minor and professor in Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts, developed this contest as an opportunity for students to gain funding and mentorship for an idea that positively influences the community.

From the pool of applications, a panel of judges will select five to six projects to enter the final round. Final presentations will take place on Monday, Nov. 4 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in Dolan Center for Science and Technology A202 and A203. This is an open event and all students, faculty, staff and administrators are encouraged to attend.

Schmidt has been a main contributor in getting this contest up and running. She states that the contest was proposed last April and presented to Soper for his final approval. This is the first year the contest has been facilitated, but will be instituted as an annual event for future aspiring student entrepreneurs.

“John Carroll has a strong footprint in service,” Schmidt said.

This past Monday, Oct. 14, a number of students attended an on-campus workshop to meet with various talented leaders in entrepreneurship to discuss project plans and projections. These critics will act as coaches to mentor and advise students through the planning process. So far, nine teams, a total of 34 students, have expressed interest in the contest. It is not too late for students who did not attend the workshop to enter their ideas. Students should submit a full application to by Friday, Oct. 25 for admittance to the contest.