The main objective of the BizStarts College Consortium is to advocate for additional entrepreneurial courses, programs and experiences offered by the 22 colleges in the Milwaukee 7 region. As a direct result of the increased offerings, we expect more start-ups in the region, a growing interest in entrepreneurship as a career path and a more innovative, entrepreneurial workforce. BizStarts Milwaukee, Inc. believes the College Consortium initiative will help the region retain and attract more college graduates.
BizStarts College Consortium History
One of the first initiatives BizStarts engaged in was to commission a study of the status of entrepreneurship on campuses throughout the region. In October of 2009, the report “The Status of Entrepreneurship Education at Institutions of Higher Learning in Southeast Wisconsin” by Dr. Mark Schug was released. The report states that while a handful of colleges offer excellent entrepreneur programs, entrepreneurship education does not stand out as a strong, central focus at most of the colleges.
In 2009 BizStarts dedicated its programming efforts to the entrepreneurship educators and administrators from the 20 public and private colleges located in the Milwaukee 7 region. Five education and networking conferences for educators were held in 2009, including a special luncheon for the Chancellors and Presidents of the universities and colleges.
In the spring of 2010 BizStarts engaged college students in significant way. On April 16th, the first ever regional college student entrepreneur conference was held at the Harley Davidson Museum. Speakers from around the country and the region presented to an audience of about 125 students representing 13 colleges. Students were highly complimentary about the conference and as a result, BizStarts plans to hold an annual student conference. On May 26th the final judging and networking event took place at MSOE for the first ever collegiate business plan competition. Fifteen thousand dollars was awarded to the top five winners, courtesy of Mason Wells. Eight colleges submitted entries and due to its instant success, BizStarts decided to hold.
In the spring of 2011, BizStarts once again held a special luncheon for leaders of area universities and colleges to help encourage more dialogue across schools regarding entrepreneurial programming. Following in April was the BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition. Courtesy of sponsor Mason Wells, $15,000 in prize money was awarded and one company, Kallows, Inc., was submitted to the Governor's Business Plan Competition, where it took second place in the IT category.
The 2012 Leaders' Luncheon took place on January 31, 2012 and was attended by 64 leaders from across the 22 college and university campuses in the region. On April 26, 2012, BizStarts held its third Collegiate Business Plan Competition, sponsored by Mason Wells. Participation by schools increased by 50% from 2011, and the winner was Scanalytics, a start-up from UW-Whitewater that subsequently entered the Governors Business Plan Competition and advanced to the top 25.
For a student-focused event, BizStarts brought the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour to Milwaukee on October 19th. Hosted at Alverno College, the event served over 100 college students and even some high schoolers looking to enter the world of entrepreneurship.
Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour inspires students from across the region
The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, which brings together America's top young entrepreneurs to spread the entrepreneurial mindset to their peers at a grassroots level at colleges nationwide, came to Milwaukee's Alverno College on Friday, October 19th. Speakers included Ryan Everson, who started Computer Doctors and was recently honored at the White House with Empact 100 for his business achievements; David Gardner, whose company launches include RedTag.com, a subsidiary of uBid, and ColorJar, a venture accelerator; and Bert Gervais, a dynamic spaker, author and entrepreneur who won the Entrepreneurs Organization's "East Coast Student Entrepreneur of the Year" Award in 2006 and 2007. They were complemented by local entrepreneurs Kelly Fitzsimmons of HarQen and Greg Maier of VETransfer and a series of local start-up companies. Over 100 students from 10 different area colleges and universities attend various segments of the four-hour program. Thanks again to Alverno College for hosting, and to all students who attended!
Expected outcomes for the BizStarts College Consortium will be a solid increase in the number of entrepreneurial courses, programs and experiences offered by consortium member. As a direct result of the increased offerings, we expect more students electing to start their own companies after graduating. This will result in the region retaining more college educated talent. Entrepreneurship tends to be “sticky”, with local entrepreneurs usually growing their firms in the states where they live. As an indirect result, we expect to see more entrepreneurial thinking taking place on campuses among faculty, staff and students.
For questions on BizStarts College Consortium, click here.
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