The Oklahoma State University School of Entrepreneurship marks its 10th anniversary in November by celebrating milestones including nearly 950 entrepreneurship degrees conferred and the launch of more than 200 student businesses that have raised more than $12 million in funding.
The public is invited to visit the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship in the Business Building Nov. 15 for an open house from 10 a.m. until noon to meet program students and staff and learn more about the school and its decade of growth.
When OSU alumni Malone Mitchell III and his wife and business partner, Amy Mitchell, donated $28.6 million to the Spears School of Business in 2009 for entrepreneurship education, their aim was not to create a new school, but to provide resources to help students succeed in starting businesses and avoid some of the mistakes they made.
“As we looked back at the successes we had we thought it would be fantastic if that knowledge could be incorporated into entrepreneurship classes and taught to students at a much younger age so they might go on to generate successful businesses and avoid some of the travails we had gone through,” Malone Mitchell said.
The Mitchells return to OSU Nov. 15 as special guests at a 10th anniversary gala for invited guests to celebrate the School of Entrepreneurship’s decade of education innovative, outreach and research that has made it one of the top programs in the nation.
“We’ve established ourselves as a leader in entrepreneurship education nationwide,” said Bruce Barringer, director of the school and the Student Ventures Chair and N. Malone Mitchell, Jr. Chair of Entrepreneurship. “Our program is distinct in that an entire department is dedicated to entrepreneurship.”
Nearly 400 Spears students major in entrepreneurship while 274 minor, including many nonbusiness students from engineering and science disciplines with ideas for technology-based startups. More than 1,400 students take entrepreneurship classes at Spears Business each semester.
Several of OSU’s most successful student businesses have come from partnerships between business students and their counterparts in science, engineering and other STEM fields. To date, of the more than 200 businesses started by School of Entrepreneurship students and their faculty advisors, 94 remain in business. Successful startups include MaxQ, a developer and maker of containers for transporting blood products; Plasma Bionics, which invented a mobile medical instrument sterilization device; the global beauty brand Tinge; Infinite Composites, which developed containers for shipping and storing pressurized liquids and gases; and the social venture Life Out of The Box that works with artisans and provides educational supplies in underdeveloped countries.
An important key to the school’s success has been its outreach program in the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, which is the public face for students interested in learning about the basics of starting businesses through a variety of events and where students can bring ideas for enterprises for feedback and next steps. The center’s welcoming environment in the building encourages students to gather, discuss, learn and take the next steps to realizing dreams of starting businesses.
“Riata’s focus and dedication is primarily to our students, and I think you see that with the continuous growth of our programs and activities, as well as the number of student companies started annually,” said Chad Mills, manager of outreach programs for the Riata Center. “We’re lucky because in the new building we’re front and center on the first floor. We also have 16 amazing student workers who act as the face of Riata and are constantly evangelizing both entrepreneurship and the Riata Center for everyone across the OSU campus.”
And even if a Spears entrepreneurship student doesn’t end up starting a business, their unique education in the School of Entrepreneurship creates opportunities with companies seeking creative employees.
“The way we teach entrepreneurship, it’s more than just starting businesses,” Barringer said. “We always say there are three career tracks for our students – first is starting a business; the second is becoming a leader in a small, or family, business; and the third is innovating within an existing company. All companies are interested in new markets, new products and new ways of thinking and those are the value-ads that our graduates bring to a job.”
Visit https://business.okstate.edu/entrepreneurship/index.html to learn more about the School of Entrepreneurship.
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