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August 15, 2013
By Nicole Shearer
How often have you started sentences with "wouldn't it be cool if," "I wish I could," or perhaps even, "why hasn't anyone thought of that?"
The University of Nevada, Reno College of Business is encouraging students to take their ideas and turn them into reality by participating in entrepreneurship programs, receiving a minor or earning an MBA with an area of emphasis in entrepreneurship. These programs are open to all students at the University and the minor is designed without pre-requisites so any student can complement their major with start-up business training.
According to the United States Department of Labor, nearly 80 percent of would-be entrepreneurs in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34. A 2005 poll from Junior Achievement (JA) found that 68.6 percent of the teenagers interviewed wanted to become entrepreneurs, even though they know it would not be an easy path.
"What we're trying to do is provide students with a soup to nuts understanding of creating and running a business," Dave Croasdell, the Charles and Ruth Hopping Professor of Entrepreneurship and chair of the University information systems department, said. "Through hands-on training, students gain experience with the various aspects of starting and sustaining a business. Each student is encouraged to run a startup business, many of which go on to compete in our entrepreneurship competitions."
These competitions include The Pack Pitch, run by the Entrepreneurship Club and the Sontag Entrepreneurship Award Competition.
The Pack Pitch is held in September, one month before the Sontag competition begins, to help students formulate and think through their ideas. The Entrepreneurship Club helps market the competition across campus and brings in area experts to critique and offer feedback for contest entrants. Winners receive $500, $200 and $100 for first through third place.
To further develop the entrepreneurial capacities of students and facilitate the creation of new businesses in Nevada, The Sontag Entrepreneurship Award was funded with a major gift from alumnus Rick Sontag in 2011. The Award is a single prize of $50,000, given at the end of each spring semester to the winner of the competition.
"Learning is one important byproduct of this process, but the other important byproduct is new businesses and employment for the northern Nevada economy," Mark Pingle, Charles N. Mathewson Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of economics, said. "If a student is highly motivated, it is conceivable that he or she graduates not looking for a job but rather graduates having created jobs by starting a successful business."
Koswar Kahn is one such student. He graduated from the University in May 2013 with a major in biochemistry and molecular biology and a minor in entrepreneurship. He currently runs Duwell Medical, a Reno-based non-profit focusing on improving healthcare conditions in third world countries.
"The minor in entrepreneurship really gave me a good understanding for all aspects of business," Kahn said. "From legal advice to strategic alliances to finance and marketing, I got a great understanding for the various areas of running a business."
To learn more about the entrepreneurship program, visit http://www.unr.edu/degrees/entrepreneurship.