Springing student entrepreneurs into business
Professor of Management Fred Fry, shown talking with reporters about Project Springboard, says the Department of Business Administration has seen significant growth in the entrepreneurship program since 2003.
Entrepreneurial students will have a chance to earn funding for their own businesses this semester through Project Springboard, a partnership between Junction Ventures LLC, Bradley University, and others. Student teams can earn as much as $10,000 for start-up costs through the Springboard Business Plan Competition, in which three to five undergraduate students create and present a business plan for a company they would like to start. During the first round of competition, teams will submit written business plans. Finalists will then make oral presentations to a panel of judges made up of venture capitalists. Details are in the guidelines section on the Web site, springboard.bradley.edu.
Project Springboard is targeted toward business students this year, according to Dr. Fred Fry, professor of management. “However, all students are eligible to enter. Next year, the award money will grow, and the project will be marketed to all Bradley students. Later, we’ll bump it again and market it to students regionally, perhaps throughout Illinois and contiguous states.”
In addition to the prize money and possible financial backing, the winning team will receive office space, the use of a car, and marketing and legal assistance. The second- and third-place finishers will also receive a monetary award, and all students can receive mentoring help.
“We plan to find mentors for student teams,” said Springboard Business Plan Competition Coordinator Amy Doering ‘93 MBA ‘95. “We’re looking for folks in the community perhaps, or graduate students who are in the MBA program, maybe alums.” Individuals interested in mentoring may e-mail Doering at email@example.com.
Program of growth
Fry says the entrepreneurship program at Bradley has grown considerably since 2003 when the Department of Business Administration had 25 entrepreneurship majors. There were 80 entrepreneurship majors in the Fall of 2006, and Fry projects 100 next fall.
“We’re finding nationwide there’s something about this generation of students that is very entrepreneurial,” Fry said. “We’re seeing major growth here at Bradley in the entrepreneurship major.”
Twenty-nine teams of aspiring entrepreneurs filed letters of intent in March to participate in the Springboard Business Plan Competition. Dr. Fred Fry says the competition is off to an impressive start.
With entrepreneurs come new ideas, which is exciting to Junction Ventures owner Alexis Khazzam. “There are very good ideas coming out of Peoria,” said Khazzam, who would like to see the groups stay in Peoria to start their businesses. “There aren’t a lot of big companies here; we have to try to create as much new business as possible, and that’s going to come from Bradley.”
In addition to funding the competition, Khazzam hired Illinois State Representative Aaron Schock ‘02 to be a liaison between Junction Ventures and Bradley for Project Springboard. “He’s a Bradley grad, he’s young, he can add good relationships with the school, and he travels a lot to Springfield, Champaign, all around Illinois,” Khazzam said. “As he grows, this project will grow too.”
Khazzam’s $200,000 donation, in addition to support from The Leiter Group, Converse Marketing, Saturn of Peoria and Coyle Insurance Agency, made the competition possible.
View select video from the announcement of Project Springboard. Go>
Bradley graduates achieved the highest placement rate since 2000, according to a study of 2005-2006 graduates released by the Smith Career Center. The overall rate of 96 percent is up one percent from last year’s rate. The placement rate of master’s degree recipients is 97 percent.
The report covers graduates who are employed, continuing their education, or engaged in other activities of their choice.
Graduates accepted employment with 526 different employers, compared to 506 in 2004-2005 and 476 in 2003-2004. About half of the graduates are employed in Illinois, one of 29 states in which graduates accepted employment offers.
In addition, a record 400 different employers conducted recruiting activities on campus during the 2005-2006 school year, and the outlook for the current class is very strong, with record numbers of employers participating in job fairs and recruitment activities.
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