In just a little more than five years, the Center for Entrepreneurship at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business has gone from being the brain child of four undergraduate students to being named by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2005 as one of the thirteen 1st-tier entrepreneurship programs in the nation. It was one of only five programs to receive the magazine’s top-tier ranking two years in a row.
Michael Camp, academic director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, highlighted a few of the key initiatives under way to seed and nurture entrepreneurship education on OSU’s campus, including the Society for Entrepreneurship Scholars and the Innovative Curricula Development.
"One of the goals of the Center for Entrepreneurship is to facilitate the development of the entrepreneurship education curriculum at Ohio State," Camp said.
Under the Innovative Curricula Development, the Fisher College of Business will continue to offer courses this spring through its approved "undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in entrepreneurship." Classes are open to both business and non-business students, and they include "New Venture Creation," "Entrepreneurial Marketing," "Entrepreneurial Finance" and "The Spirit of Personal Enterprise."
The entrepreneurship minor has already been approved by the Fisher College of Business, and it is awaiting approval by the university before it becomes official, Camp said.
One of the vital programs in the Center for Entrepreneurship that helps to foster student entrepreneurial thinking and skills is the Business Builders Club, which hosts entrepreneurship events, keynote speakers and business-building activities.
Anup Gampa, a senior in Industrial & Systems Engineering and current president of Business Builders Club, said one of main goals of the club is to provide a place for students to network with other individuals.
"We teach students who are interested in starting a business now, 10 years from now, or even 20 years from now," Gampa said
The club focuses on every type of entrepreneurship, Gampa said, and in April will host its annual Business Builders Club Spectacular. This year’s theme is "Emerging Opportunities in Technology," which will discuss and analyze business opportunities in areas such as nanotechnology.
Nathan Hurd, the first president and founder of the Business Builders Club and a current M.B.A student at the Fisher College of Business, described the original formation of the Business Builders Club five years ago as an idea whose time had come.
"After the first Business Builders Club Speaker Series event in May, 2001, we knew we were on to something big," Hurd said. "It was like everybody was ready. They had been looking for something like this."
"Within a month after the first meeting we had 150 students from all across campus sign up for our mailing list," Hurd said. "We had graduate students from the medical school signing up."
Many students who become involved in the Business Builders Club use the club’s networking to explore opportunities offered through the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Fisher College of Business.
One of those opportunities is the Fisher Business Plan Competition, started in 2000 and sponsored by Deloitte & Touche U.S.A. LLP. This competition provides a forum for faculty, students and community entrepreneurs to win more than $130,000 in cash and services as start-up funds for transforming an idea into a thriving business.
The Center for Entrepreneurship recently announced two new awards, the "Best Undergraduate Business Plan Award" and "New Business Builders MBA Competition Award," a competition among MBA candidates from four central Ohio universities – Capital University, Franklin University, Ohio Dominican University and The Ohio State University – with an annual prize of $10,000.
Hurd said the Center for Entrepreneurship would not have been successful without the dedication and help of others; in particular, Rich Langdale, a Columbus-based entrepreneur, who provided the original funding for the center and served as acting director in the center’s early years.
"There were five or six key people whose contributions were vital to the success of the center," Hurd said. "And what you have now is an institution forming around a formal college entrepreneurship education," Hurd said.
"Within 3 years, it went from nothing to one of the best programs in the country," Hurd said.
After leaving his official duties in the Business Builders Club two years ago to start a family and pursue his MBA, Hurd has since become a mentor in the program and still holds weekly luncheons with club executives.
"To be able to benefit from a system you helped create is really special to see," Hurd said.
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