BY CAROLINE STREETT
Gull Life Editor
In celebration of National Entrepreneurship Month, faculty and students at Salisbury University have worked to promote the various entrepreneurial programs that the school has to offer.
Many of the entrepreneurial programs are based out of the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Hub. The Hub’s main purpose is to provide guidance for SU students who are looking to start a business.
Senior and Vice President of SU’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization George Swoyer highlighted that the Hub “helps students start thinking about their ideas and what they need to do to prepare for the annual Student Entrepreneurship Competition.”
The annual competition is hosted every spring by the Perdue School of Business and yields a grand total of $100,000.
Swoyer shed light on the resources that the Hub offers, including a number of workshops on topics such as social media, marketing, brand promotion and business start-up advice, as well as featured speakers who are well-versed in the business world.
Executive Director of Economic Development and Director of Entrepreneurial Activities at SU William Burke spent 20 years working in business prior to working at SU.
Burke shed light on the fact that entrepreneurship is a means of taking what one learns to new levels.
“In the academic environment, you learn about the terms, definitions and the concepts, but in the business environment, you are applying that,” Burke said. “For entrepreneurship here at the university, we are able to create an environment by which students can apply what they’re learning in the classroom to an idea they have or to a passion they may have.”
Burke encourages all students with an idea to come to the Hub and take advantage of all the resources it has to offer, including personal coaching from Burke and business professionals, the Small Business Development Center, 3D consultants to create a prototype and guidance from student workers and ecosystem partners.
Ultimately, students can go in with just an idea or an already started business to seek advice on what the next step is in making their dreams a reality.
In the first year of the Hub being open, near 540 students took advantage of its resources. In May of 2020, SU will also have a presence downtown with the establishment of a Center for Entrepreneurship. The center will be a place where SU students will be able to go to interact with local businesspeople and further their own ideas.
Burke highlighted that the Hub workers want the Hub and the center to be a place of community for entrepreneurs of all kinds to come together and share ideas and advice.
“So we’re all kind of working together — being an entrepreneur is a lonely job,” Burke said. “What we’re trying to do is create a community of entrepreneurs where even entrepreneurs that have different business ideas can work together on the foundational concepts of starting a business.”
A number of student ideas have come to fruition with the help of the resources that SU provides. SU CEO President and Entrepreneurship Consultant Nick Patterson, a senior, has seen students who don’t at first realize their potential to succeed, and through the encouragement and help that the Hub provides, they are able to prosper.
“I think entrepreneurship is important because it’s applicable learning, and I think it’s very important for all students to realize that the stuff they are learning has practical value in the real world,” Patterson said. “As well as that with entrepreneurship, the end goal is different for everybody, but it really gets down to having the freedom to achieve the lifestyle that you want.
Patterson believes that it is important to “plant the seed in students’ minds that they can achieve and they can become more.”
Sophomore Lindsay Jones is one example of a student who has utilized the services SU provides to her benefit and has seen positive results because of it.
As CEO and founder of the company Cupcakes by Frosted, Jones has been pursuing her entrepreneurial dreams since she was 14 years old.
The location of Ocean City, Maryland ultimately inspired her to start her company because of its attraction to tourists.
“When I came to Salisbury University, I saw all the things that they offered for entrepreneurship and that made me want to pursue my dream even more,” Jones said.
Jones received second place in last year’s Student Entrepreneur Competition and was the first freshman to ever make it that far in the competition.
Winning the competition helped Jones to grow her company, for she received $14,000 in prize money, along with her own office space in the Hub. Jones accredits a large amount of her success to the support and resources offered at SU.
“They offered so many classes and additional programs that are free that can enhance your business,” Jones said. “They do copyrighting sessions, marketing classes and workshops, so that’s really helped me a lot.”
Jones enjoys owning her own business most for the freedom it brings her to make her own decisions and use her creative mind to the best of her ability.
Jones explained that Cupcakes by Frosted is centered around community ideals, which she believes sets her business apart from competitors in the area.
“Other companies might just be focused on delivering the best desserts, whereas we’re really focusing on donating and giving back to the community,” Jones said.
In seeing her dreams as a 14-year-old girl come to fruition, Jones urges all of her peers to take advantage of the Hub because it could be the push that makes their dreams a reality.
“A lot of people think that you need money to start a business, when in reality, you don’t. You just need a vision and people to support you,” Jones said. “I started my business with nothing, and now it’s worth a lot.”
In his advice to those who are unsure what the first step is in starting a business, Burke’s advice is to “just show up” and “to be fearless.”
“If they come through the doors of the Hub and they show an interest, we’re here to help them, and technically all of our help and support is free to the students,” Burke said.
The Hub is initially an effort to help take away the hesitation someone may have in acting on an idea.
“Helping students and giving them the encouragement that they can do it. We can’t guarantee anything,” Burke said. “But we can help them to be further along than they were before they walked through the doors.
Caption: The Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Hub is a free resource available to all students. It is located in Perdue Hall Room 132.
Featured photo by Alex Valdes