Seniors set out on original entrepreneurial ventures

by Amanda Sandlin

The Student Venture Experience, a senior elective, has opened the door for five students into the “real” business world.

The class involves aspiring entrepreneurs starting their own business company and running it. The program has seen students start businesses ranging from landscaping to Peruvian crafting, according to Dr. Radhagad Chaganti of the Department of Business Policy and Environment. Chaganti and Dr. Ronald Cook of the Department of Management and Human Resources advise the upstart businesses.

“If somebody has a business idea they want to try out, they will start and run it for three months,” Chaganti said.

The business founders are able to take a loan if they wish. After starting up their business, the students meet weekly with their professors and advisers. At the end of the semester, it is up to them if they wish to continue with their business.

“We want them to really learn something from it without any hardship and gain experiential knowledge of actual hands-on skill in this process of starting up their business,” Chaganti said. “This is really getting their feet wet.”

In only its second year, the program is off to a good start. It recently won a Best Practice Award at the Small Business Institute National Conference in San Diego. Out of 35 submissions, the club was among the select seven dubbed winners.

Before getting involved in the Student Venture Experience, students must take Entrepreneurial Studies (ENT 401). In that class, students are able to pick their business, write a plan, discuss and research in detail as to how it would possibly do on the market, and decide whether to pursue it or not.

“Based on their market research, we want them to predict the sales,” Chaganti said. “They have to have an idea of what it’s going to cost and how much is going to be made.”

At first, senior Miguel Bain was a little skeptical entering the course, but he quickly realized that this was an amazing opportunity.

“Being a senior, I am so happy that I did,” he said. “So far, this course has been one of the best courses I have ever taken. It has helped me to learn quite a bit about myself. I recommend this course to any student in the entrepreneurial studies major.”

Another student who found success in the program was senior Daniel Jamet, who previously owned a landscaping business. Despite his prior experience, Jamet admits he has learned even more than he thought was possible after creating another company, Garden Artisans, through the class.

“Before Garden Artisans, I had another business — Blades Lawn and Landscape — so I have owned my own business for about four years now,” Jamet said. “I used to think I knew everything about my business, but the Student Venture Experience really helped me to realize the endless possibilites and variables of running a business.”

Not only will he finish out the semester with the business, but he will continue expanding it after graduation.
Chaganti encourages students to explore their business potential.

“Student Venture Experience increases their entrepreneurial spirit,” she said. “And [it] makes them realize that with passion, hard work and creativity they can start and succeed in a venture of their own.”

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