"Today’s students see the bigger economic picture. They want to develop fresh products and innovative services. They see market needs and want to advance ways to service those needs. They need the support system to encourage them to take that first step, however. The EA takes that student desire and grows it well beyond a classroom experience. The EA engages members in events such as confidence building, pitch retreats, startup weekends, collegiate entrepreneurs’ organization conferences, and guest speakers that inspire and encourage students to pursue their passion. With the EA, entrepreneurship isn’t just an elective, it’s a mindset."
- Professor Greg Bier
The EA was implemented with sponsorship from David and Suzie Spence in the fall of 2011 to develop entrepreneurial students in several ways.
- First, we wanted to nurture the passion for entrepreneurship in select students from across campus.
- Second, build the necessary pitch skills in members to make them successful at clear and concise idea pitches.
- Third, develop the self-confidence and tolerance for risk that is an inherit part of being a successful entrepreneur.
- Fourth, build the EA into a support network of like-minded students.
- Fifth, engage them in a supportive network of alumnae, stakeholders, mentors, and community members.
Most entrepreneurship programs involve coursework on business planning, product development, marketing, etc. The EA took this approach to another level based on the fact that many students finish these programs but still lacked the skills and personality traits to execute an idea. They still lacked the practical leadership skills. They lacked a tolerance for risk. They lacked self-confidence. They lacked passion. They lacked the guts. While most programs are business incubators, we envisioned a talent incubator that produces students skilled in entrepreneurship, or intrapreneurship, with the communication skills and business planning process knowledge combined with the drive to act. While students still pursue entrepreneurial coursework, the EA complements that learning by focusing on skill development and personal growth.
The Entrepreneurial Alliance is an initiative designed to foster a culture of innovation at MU. The movement is motivated by students who see the value in entrepreneurship and is fueled by business leaders who know that growth during a down economy depends on startups.
Alliance members explore personal opportunities in various areas of business startups, franchises, and family run businesses. The Alliance engages in experiences that develop entrepreneurial traits and characteristics such as a passion for business, tenacity despite failure, self-determination, management of risk, self-confidence, seeking opportunities, creativity, initiative, and detail orientation.EA students will participate in discussions with entrepreneurs, who will share their success stories along with their cautionary tales and answer questions from students. The speakers will come from a variety of industries as well as different phases of a business life cycle.
A key aspect of entrepreneurial growth is networking, so students will attend luncheons with executives to help them get comfortable around business people they wish to work with or approach for support. The luncheons with entrepreneurs — local, regional and national figures — also offer students that opportunity to ask questions in a small, comfortable setting that they may be hesitant to ask in a classroom setting.