Currently in its second year, the Entrepreneurship Scholars (e-scholars) Program consists of 67 aspiring innovators. These students are working with mentors to achieve success with their ventures, and will obtain a “Status of Entrepreneurship Scholar” certificate upon completion of the program.
“The Entrepreneurship Scholars Program is a UMKC campus-wide program designed to prepare brilliant and promising student entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge needed to launch world-class ventures upon graduation,” Executive Director Dr. Michael Song said.
Song cited Peter Drucker, an influential businessman of the 20th century, when asked about the implementation of the e-scholars program. “Drucker said that you get results by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems. The E-Scholars program reflects that spirit. Our vision is that the fundamental driver of economic activity is the entrepreneur,” Song said.
The e-scholars program is funded by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is funded by the university, institutional supporters, and individual contributors. The program is 12 months in length, starting in May. The students meet regularly with program mentors, and together they work to create, execute, and direct business ventures.
One such student is Derek Hoy, who started Hoyboy LLC, a company that specializes in tailgating products. Hoy was in the initial class of the e-scholars program, and graduated in April.
“I heard about the idea through Dr. Song, so I was excited from the beginning,” Hoy said. “I enjoyed it immensely. The level of faculty and mentors available as a resource is absolutely unheard of. ”
Co-Director Dr. Mark Parry is one of those faculty members, and he provides academic direction to the students.
“Our goal is to provide students with the knowledge and tools they need to start their business, along with a roadmap that provides guidance at each step of the launch process,” Parry said. “In addition, we link students with a network of mentor and investors who can potentially provide the resources needed by students to start their businesses.”
The program was successful for Hoy, and recollections of his experiences convey his appreciation.
“I really enjoyed the structure of the program where you get to drink from the fire hose from some of the best in the industry,” Hoy said. “Given the excellent faculty, we really had some intense Friday and Saturday sessions loaded with valuable content. Then you could attend specific workshops to really hone in different building blocks of the start-up. This was really valuable as well. You need a good balance between curriculum and application and this program has a wonderful mix that leaves you with a ton of practical experience in planning for a start-up.”
The current class presented its budding concepts to mentors and faculty at an Idea Fair on Aug. 26. There will be a reception at 5 p.m. Sept. 15, on the fourth floor of the Student Union. Some of the business community, civic leaders, and UMKC representatives will attend, and some program announcements will be made.
Song and Parry said the program is currently taking applications, and they encourage interested students to attend one of the upcoming events. Another such event will be Oct. 25, when last year’s graduates will present their ideas to angel investors.
For more information, visit the program’s website at www.entrepreneurship.bloch.umkc.edu/academic_programs/entrepreneurship_scholars.asp.