College humanities courses aren’t usually associated with commerce, but at Lawrence Technological University students in a communications course are learning how to turn their business dreams into reality.
The course, Creative Entrepreneurship, is taught by Senior Lecturer Karen Evans. It was developed with funding from the Coleman Foundation of Chicago, IL, which has spent more than $40 million since 1981 to promote self-employment and improve the quality of entrepreneurship education in order to create a new generation of business owners.
“Since this is a communications course, students learn about pitching, networking, writing a formal business plan, and preparing a presentation,” Evans said. “They also use the course to give themselves some discipline and to refine their business model.
The highlight of the course for the spring semester was a trade show on April 30 in the atrium of LTU’s Buell Management Building. Students displayed their selling materials and made their sales pitches to a panel of judges who work in business development.
Alex Mozeihem, who is studying business administration and economics, was promoting ViVo Drones LLC, the business he has started with mechanical engineering student Zeran Gu. They plan to build and program drones for a variety of commercial and civilian uses, such as photography and tracking.
Gu is the company’s programmer and also builds the drones. He is already working on establishing a supply chain from Asia for many of the parts, although he has found that the United States is the best source of batteries.
“I need a business guy, a passion guy, to sell this product,” Gu said.
Mozeihem said the course is helping him to define the market he and Gu should be targeting and to develop a plan for meeting investors.
Computer science student Kayla Calomeni hopes the class will help her expand the website design service that she started when she is in high school. She has been designing half a dozen websites a year and hopes to ramp up to three websites a month with the help of her new business plan. Eventually she wants to build a business and hire employees.
“I want to differentiate myself by the level of customer service I offer,” Calomeni said. “Most web developers don’t want to meet face to face.”
Her business plan includes pay-per-click advertising on the Internet and discounts to customers who give her referrals.
The business model that got the most attention at the trade show was Lasagna Blaster Ops, which offers to set up war games with Nerf guns that shoot foam pellets. Anthony Kadzban has set up games for students groups on LTU’s campus and he wants to expand to other campuses.
He hopes to catch the interest of fans of video games, and has also modified his service to capitalize on the strong interest in zombies among college students. His brochure promises that the war games are a stress reliever for overworked college students and also provide an opportunity to develop leadership and teamwork skills.
Evans points out that her course can be useful for students who don’t end up starting their own businesses. “It’s good preparation for anyone going into the business world because you will always have to sell an idea,” she said.