Budding entrepreneurs at Southern have gotten a taste of what it’s like to start a small business in the real world, thanks to their participation in a statewide, interdisciplinary course offered this semester called “New Venture Challenge.”
Southern joined with about 100 students from colleges and universities throughout Connecticut to form teams that worked on putting together hypothetical businesses centered on student products and services. It marked Southern’s first participation in the course, which culminated in “Launch Weekend,” where their research and preliminary work were put to the test, and ultimately teams made their pitch to judges and investors.
While classified at SCSU as an accelerated, special topics business course, it was open to students from various academic disciplines, provided that they successfully completed the Management 301 course, “Entrepreneurship/Small Business Development.”
“The New Venture Challenge course was tremendously successful in giving students a chance to develop the skills they will need if they opt to start their own businesses,” said Dan Mabesoone, SCSU assistant professor of management/MIS. “The level of enthusiasm sparked by the course – especially during the Launch Weekend – was incredible. You could see the passion that these students have toward being entrepreneurs.”
Mabesoone said there were about 20 teams of 5-6 students each, with each team including students from several of the schools. The teams discussed various aspects of putting a business together, such as branding, logo and website design, minimum viable product requirements, domain and trademark search, and online research for selecting a company name.
Mabesoone said that in addition to standard undergraduate tuition and fees, each student was required to pay $230 for the course. But that additional cost was covered by a donation from Richard C. Meisenheimer, an area businessman who is president of the Meisenheimer Foundation and a member of the Business Advisory Council for the SCSU School of Business.
“(Our) family has a firm belief in supporting and nurturing students who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit,” Meisenheimer said. “(Provost) Ellen Durnin presented a new venture challenge to me for consideration, and we felt this was an excellent opportunity and invaluable experience for students in the Business School.”
“In addition, six members of our family are graduates of Southern, and as such, we have a commitment to this institution,” he said.
Durnin, who had been dean of the SCSU School of Business before recently being appointment as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, thanked Meisenheimer for his support.
“The School of Business faculty and students are indebted to Mr. Meisenheimer,” she said. “Through his generosity, our students were able to participate in the Connecticut New Venture Challenge experience. We appreciate him providing this unique, hands-on experience for our students to work with entrepreneurs in a mentoring capacity.”
Mabesoone also thanked Sam Andoh, the new dean of the SCSU School of Business; and Richard Bassett, chairman of the SCSU Management/MIS Department; for their support in offering this opportunity to Southern students.