Student business owners spotlighted in entrepreneur's week

By Janel Shoun-Smith on 4/4/2014

  
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Interested in buying a cupcake to help fight human trafficking? Or are you more interested in an app that can choose the best restaurant for you based on your preferences? Does an all-natural skin mask at a relaxing spa sound more up your alley?

All of these were exciting ideas proposed by Lipscomb University students this past week during spring semester’s Entrepreneurship Week, coordinated by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

The center was established in 2011 and as of this semester nearly 45 entrepreneurial undergraduate students have taken on either the entrepreneurship major or minor.

Many of them were evident this week in the Bison Market on Bison Square where Hannah Huffines of Sweet Bites sold gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free and dairy-free baked goods. Derek Peterson sold customizable leather bracelets through his company Forever Always. And Group 6 Apparel sold the increasingly popular “R-Low” T-shirts (a riff on Lipscomb President Randy Lowry).

At least five students in Lipscomb’s entrepreneurship program have already launched legitimate businesses, including Philo’s Bakery, the winner of the Bison Brawl, Lipscomb’s annual business plan pitch contest.

Photos: The student owners of Philos Bakery at last year's Bison Market on Bison Square. They made $315 in revenues that year.

Students Sarah Angell, Brooke Broslat and Marlee Vogel have teamed up to become a cupcake catering company that donates 30 percent of its profits to Rapha House, an orphanage in Cambodia that rescues trafficked and exploited children. The group won $1,000 when their business plan was selected among the four finalists, and they plan to donate $300 to Rapha House.

The Center for Entrepreneurship offers a number of ways to help these students gain access to resources, guidance and connections that may help them achieve their dream of starting a business even before they graduate. Entrepreneur–in-residence, Jerry Stubblefield, has joined center director Joe Ivey, a past entrepreneur, on the business faculty. The CEO Group is a student club that offers networking opportunities, a place to bounce ideas and entrepreneurship education. The program has a strong connection with the Nashville Entrepreneurship Center, offering students Nashville-wide connections and resources.

“In today’s competitive and often stressed economic environment, many people are looking to their own strengths and talents to thrive during fiscally difficult times,” said Joe Ivey, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “Starting an enterprise takes passion, but making that enterprise successful takes business savvy and experience. The Center for Entrepreneurship provides the essential knowledge, skills and inspiration to make better businesspeople of any Lipscomb students who may want to become business owners some day.”

Students are certainly taking the center up on its offer. Companies started by current and former Lipscomb students include Fringe and Lace, a fair trade women’s clothing provider; Wagon Wheel Woodworking, antique furniture carpenters who use all reclaimed woods, and Nashville Shirt Company, offering T-shirts featuring the Nashville skyline.

Future plans for Lipscomb’s budding entrepreneurs include a special Bison Brawl pitch contest next spring with a $10,000 grand prize and space for a business incubator in the upcoming re-design of the Swang Business Center.

“Our students see the success that other businesses have had in Nashville, which is in the top five U.S. cities for entrepreneurs,” said Kristin Matthews, program director for the Center for Entrepreneurship. “They want that success as well, and they know our program can provide the resources and skills to help them successfully compete.”