Category Archives: Business

Local company benefits from ECU innovation

Linda McMahon (Contributed photo)

Linda McMahon (Contributed photo)

National Small Business Week (NSBW) is April 30-May 5. Linda McMahon, administrator for the United States Small Business Administration and East Carolina University alumna, will wrap up a multi-city bus tour that celebrates NSBW by serving as the keynote speaker for ECU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony, which is Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m.

McMahon’s tour is an annual event that celebrates small-business owners and their key support groups. It highlights American entrepreneurship with events such as community workshops, award ceremonies and a three-day virtual conference for small-business owners.

About her participation in ECU’s commencement ceremony, McMahon said, “Whether or not they (graduates) will become part of America’s 30 million small businesses, they now have an opportunity to work hard to achieve success for themselves and to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”

ECU impacting small businesses

Snow Hill’s Glean is a subsidiary of Ham’s Farms, a family-owned small business that focuses on sweet potatoes and other vegetables such as beets and pumpkins, and has used many of the resources available to small businesses through ECU.

Glean’s name is what it does. It gleans, or extracts, reserve products to produce sweet potato and pumpkin flours and powder from beets. Knowing it had university resources in its backyard, Glean reached out to ECU’s Department of Nutrition Science through the university’s I-Corps NSF grant to help develop recipes for products like protein bars and smoothies in which the flours can be used. The partnership between ECU and Glean provides students, who are taking food science and marketing courses, with real-time, real-world examples for economic development and interdisciplinary collaborative learning opportunities.

Students with the College of Business present packaging research to local small business, Glean out of Snow Hill. (Contributed photos)

Students with the College of Business present packaging research to local small business, Glean out of Snow Hill. (Contributed photos)

After assisting with product development, nutrition science faculty and students brought in the College of Business’ (COB) marketing department to look at how these new products can be marketed and to whom. In the fall of 2017, student teams presented ideas to Laura Hearn and Will Kornegay. Both are co-founders of Glean. Of these initial presentations, Hearn wrote in a follow-up email, “After talking with each class, we walked away incredibly blown away by the engagement and commitment by the students. Will and I both said we would love to be able to go back to school at ECU and learn under the professors we have met.”

After the initial presentations, Glean wanted to continue its relationship with COB, just like it continues to work with the Department of Nutrition Science. Kornegay said they developed a list of projects in which the company thought the COB could provide guidance. This list resulted in project opportunities in six Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management courses.

“We met with a team of professors, kind of a roundtable discussion, and put together a scope of work of things that we were looking for as a startup, a small company, a small business,” Kornegay said.

He added the company realized it wanted to provide projects for the students to work on and give them “real-industry experience. They’re helping us accomplish a lot of things we want to do right now that we (Glean) don’t have time to do.”

Impacting students

Nicole Peters

Nicole Peters

ECU senior Nicole Peters will graduate with a degree in business administration with a marketing concentration this spring. She participated in the fall 2017 projects, as well as this spring’s Glean project, which focused on research and branding. Her team looked at ways Glean could bring an unboxing experience to its product delivery process. She said she appreciated the opportunity of working directly with the client, and, like Kornegay, she sees the value of participating in this project with Glean.

“Since they are such a new company, you (the student) are learning the whole process with them, how to utilize what you’re learning in your classes,” Peters said.

Senior Garrett Hinton of Fayetteville also was part of a student team that worked with Glean this spring. His team focused on packaging analysis and wanted to know what the consumer response was to Glean’s current packaging. Their deliverable showed Glean the consumer would like to see the actual vegetable – sweet potato, beet and pumpkin – as opposed to clip art or no art on its packaging.

Garrett Hinton

Garrett Hinton

“This (experience) means something because I’m helping a client on top of receiving a grade,” Hinton said. “It was gratifying. Not many other students can say they’re pitching ideas to a company.”

Glean also has turned to the Small Business Institute, which is part of the College’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship. Miller School director Mike Harris said both COB and College of Engineering and Technology students spent 500 hours to deliver Glean strategic and implementation plans that included analysis, objectives and issues regarding retail and budgets.

Dr. Christine Kowalczyk, associate professor in COB’s Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, highlighted the importance of this relationship for the college and students. “Our relationship with Glean is perfectly aligned with the mission of ECU. We offered unique hands-on learning projects that are preparing our students to become future business leaders. The project experience has resulted in job and internship opportunities with Glean. We look forward to continuing our support of Glean and innovating the learning opportunities for our students.”

What’s next

Hearn and Kornegay said that Glean plans to continue its relationship with ECU and COB. They see ECU as an innovator that can help other small businesses in the area.

“The professors and academia stand out among the universities that we’ve become familiar with in North Carolina and it’s right in our backyard,” said Hearn. “Any small business who is able to lean on the professors and students will gain something valuable from it.”

Glean’s Laura Hearn, left, and Will Kornegay, right, listen to students present ideas on how to package Glean products.

Glean’s Laura Hearn, left, and Will Kornegay, right, listen to students present ideas on how to package Glean products.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

Miller School of Entrepreneurship students visit, learn from school’s namesake

In 2015, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship was established thanks to a $5 million gift from ECU College of Business (COB) alumnus Fielding Miller and his wife, Kim Grice Miller. The school’s goal is to serve as a regional hub that prepares students to take an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set into their communities.

Students with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship pitch their ideas to Raleigh-entrepreneurs, including COB Alumnus and the school’s namesake, Fielding Miller. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Students with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship pitch their ideas to Raleigh-entrepreneurs, including COB Alumnus and the school’s namesake, Fielding Miller. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Three years later, Miller School students hit the road and pitched their ideas to the school’s regional advisory councils, which include COB alumni and entrepreneurs. The council visits have included Wilmington, Greenville and Raleigh.

On April 6, students with the Miller School visited CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, the Raleigh-based independent investment research andfee-based investment advisory firm. This visit marked the first time that Miller, co-founder, chairman andCEO of CAPTRUST, was able to see Miller School students in action, which included a five-minute presentation and 30-minute Q&A session with three student teams.

Fielding Miller

Fielding Miller

When asked how it felt to see these presentations, Miller said, “I was thrilled with the visit – the student presentations were compelling and showed a lot of creativity, andthe turnout of the experienced entrepreneurs in the Raleigh area was heartwarming to see.”

The Raleigh-area entrepreneurs that Miller mentioned included members of the Miller School’s Triangle Advisory Council. Van Isley, the Triangle Advisory Council’s president, also attended the event. He recently gave $2 million to the COB that will be used to provide a space for business, engineering, technology and art students to collaborate on product innovation and entrepreneurship. The Miller School student presentations marked his first time Isley saw the student entrepreneurs in action. Of the presentations, he said the students’ energy, enthusiasm and passion was exciting and invigorating to witness.

“Several years ago I participated in one of the first shark tank presentations, which was part of a final exam for one of the senior business classes,” said Isley. “It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, andit made me want to get more involved. It really speaks to the quality of students the College of Business is producing.”

Student Experiences

The Raleigh-area entrepreneurs were not the only ones in the meeting that were impressed. The participating student teams were also impressed with what they saw and heard.

CAPTRUST’s offices sit on top of the 17-story, CAPTRUST Tower in Raleigh and provide a view of Raleigh’s growing skyline. They heard from Miller, who talked about his entrepreneurial journey and his top lessons learned over the years. And, these students heard pointed, direct feedback from the entrepreneurs in the room.

Senior Chris Allen

Senior Chris Allen

Chris Allen is a pre-med computer-science major who is taking advantage of the entrepreneurial and small business management classes provided by the Miller School. He pitched a health carerelated blockchain idea during his visit.

“I never had an experience that was that invigorating, and that allowed me to learn so quickly and connect with so many people that could influence my future,” said Allen.

Brady Hillhouse of the Charlotte area is a freshman that is pursuing a double major in finance and entrepreneurship. He is already an entrepreneur who owns a foreign exchange education company.

He viewed the experience as a working lunch to receive mentorship and guidance from entrepreneurs from multiple industries. According to Hillhouse, his projected career path is very similar to Miller’s. He wants to become a stockbroker and open his own financial advisory firm, andHillhouse says what he heard at the event was valuable.

“That was justincredible feedback and mentorship on the next steps to take in life and his company,” said Hillhouse. “It’s feedback I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else even if I paid for it.”

According to Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School, the April event, as well as the previousevents, were designed to help establish mentoring relationships.

“The Miller School is very fortunate to have four advisory councils with active statewide members who are willing to help nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Harris.

“I was astounded by the quantity and quality of successful entrepreneurs who were willing to give of their time, energy and experience,” said Isley.

After the event, Miller was not only pleased with what he witnessed but is excited for the future.

“I want to participate in as many as I can,” said Miller. “It is fascinating to see the students in action, and I came away more enthusiastic than ever about the potential of the program. So far, it (the Miller School) has exceeded my expectations.”

According to Harris, the Miller School will plan a similar event in Charlotte during a Fall 2018 meeting of its Piedmont Regional Advisory Council.

Van Isley, CEO and founder of Professional Builders Supply, speaks with Miller School students during their recent visit to Raleigh’s CAPTRUST.

Van Isley, CEO and founder of Professional Builders Supply, speaks with Miller School students during their recent visit to Raleigh’s CAPTRUST.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

College hosts big data symposium

East Carolina University’s College of Business hosted its ninth annual Big Data at Eastern North Carolina Symposium on Wednesday.

The event brought together students, industry representatives, faculty researchers, data collectors and number crunchers to discuss the latest uses and trends in big data and analytics.

Big data refers to large sets of facts and statistics that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends and associations. This analysis can lead to newfound knowledge in human interactions and behaviors. Researchers use big data to solve problems and create efficiencies, like reducing readmission rates for hospital patients or determining hospital bed capacity.

Joan Wynn, Vidant Health chief quality and patient safety officer, discusses how her organization uses big data to give patients more control over their health services and treatments. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Joan Wynn, Vidant Health chief quality and patient safety officer, discusses how her organization uses big data to give patients more control over their health services and treatments. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Huigang Liang, a professor in ECU’s Department of Management Information Systems, said that big data is playing a key role in the university’s future research endeavors and ties in with its Rural Prosperity Initiative.

“Big data and analytics ties in very well to the Rural Prosperity Initiative,” Liang said. “We can use big data in the health care field to provide better care, drive down costs and measure risk; we can use big data in education to find barriers to student learning and provide solutions; and we can use big data to combat economic disparities by analyzing population data and observing business trends.

“Big data and analytics is a team discipline,” he said. “It’s something every field – from business, health care to psychology – can use. The important thing is that we learn the right ways to interpret data to find out what that data means and figure out where it can take us.”

Joining ECU’s students and faculty members at the symposium were representatives from software and health care leaders SAS Software, RTI International and Vidant Health. SAS Software’s presentation focused on using data to drive informed decision making, while RTI International displayed its online personal health toolkit. Vidant Health officials discussed using big data and analytics to drive and measure quality and safety in its hospitals and care centers.

Speakers tasked audience members to think about the type of data they collect for their research projects and what they intend to do with it.

“Data is useless without analysis,” SAS Software Senior Healthcare Solution Manager Rick Monaco said. “We have to use analytics to turn data into something. We have to know how to use data. Data gives us information, but by analyzing data and looking ahead at trends and associations, we can gain useful knowledge.”

Paul Carmichael, a student in ECU’s Business Analytics Certificate program, said having the opportunity to explore how other researchers are using big data has been beneficial.

“Seeing some of the other projects researchers are using big data for has been eye-opening,” he said. “I use big data analysis at my current job in the insurance field, so to see where big data could take us is useful.”

ECU has made strides in its efforts to make big data and analytics a focus in the classroom and faculty research projects. In 2017, the university launched the big data and analytics research cluster, which plans to develop university-wide data analytics capabilities and provide data visualization technologies. ECU is also exploring the possibility of adding a dig data postdoctoral program.

The university has announced partnerships with SAS and RTI to provide on-site data software training, teaching materials and mentorship opportunities to help rural areas overcome economic, educational and health disparities.

“Big data shouldn’t be a scary term; it’s just data that we’re all producing,” ECU professor Lucky Xue said. “What’s important is learning how to extract knowledge out of these data sets and applying that knowledge to enhance our daily lives.”

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

I-Corps@ECU honors entrepreneurs

I-Corps@ECU recognized the work of faculty members, students and community members at its 2018 Celebration and Information Session at the East Carolina Heart Institute on April 13.

More than 30 participants, East Carolina University representatives and community partners honored the spring semester’s 26 teams.

I-Corps@ECU is funded by the National Science Foundation. The program provides budding entrepreneurs a model to reach go or no-go decisions on their business ideas by using a lean launch method. Participants identify a customer base, interview potential customers to learn about their wants and needs and reach a decision on whether to bring a product to market based on consumer feedback, market share and profitability.

East Carolina University professor Richard Baybutt describes his product, BetaSol, during the 2018 I-Corps@ECU Celebration and Information Session at the East Carolina Heart Institute. BetaSol is an e-cigarette product that delivers vitamin A to smokers to help protect their lungs from damage. (Photo by Matt Smith)

East Carolina University professor Richard Baybutt describes his product, BetaSol, during the 2018 I-Corps@ECU Celebration and Information Session at the East Carolina Heart Institute. BetaSol is an e-cigarette product that delivers vitamin A to smokers to help protect their lungs from damage. (Photo by Matt Smith)

Three teams were highlighted at the celebration, including a team led by an ECU student, an ECU professor and local business owners. The program recognized BetaSol, a product developed by professor Richard Baybutt, which provides a dose of vitamin A to smokers to help prevent lung injury; FoodMASTER, an educational curriculum that uses food to teach math, science and nutrition skills led by professor Melanie Duffrin and graduate student Allender Lynch; and Glean, a local baking flour product created by a group of entrepreneurs from “ugly” vegetables that are rejected by retail stores.

Each team discussed their journey through I-Corps@ECU and how it helped them reach decisions for their products.

I-Corp co-director Marti Van Scott said the program is a useful tool for entrepreneurs who want to explore whether their idea has a position in the marketplace.

“I-Corps will benefit anyone; whether they’re a scientist, a writer or an artist, this program is useful,” Van Scott said. “Whether you’re researching, writing a grant or have an idea for a business, it forces you to take an in-depth look at what you’re offering to see if its beneficial to the people you’re trying to serve.

“I-Corps is a great tool to help people think through the next steps of their business idea,” she said. “Often, entrepreneurs will come up with an idea, but it’s the steps after that – interviewing potential customers, identifying pain points and determining market share – where they struggle. I-Corps helps point you in the right direction.”

Teal Darkenwald, an associate professor in the School of Theatre and Dance, said she attended the event to learn more about I-Corps@ECU. Darkenwald is the founder of Ultra Barre, a barre-based supplemental dance training method that lengthens and tones muscle.

“My background has nothing to do with entrepreneurship,” Darkenwald said. “I know that’s a deficit in my training and education, so today was a great opportunity for me to learn more about business and entrepreneurship.

“It makes sense for me to learn more about where I fit in with my business and learn how to build a team,” she said. “I could do that through I-Corps. I feel like I have the research background and I have a clear idea of who my demographic is, but I could potentially participate in I-Corps and strengthen the other half of the business through what you learn in the program.”

I-Corps@ECU begins its third session this fall. For more information about the program, http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/ott/icorps.cfm.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

Tarboro native and entrepreneur Janice Bryant Howroyd to keynote annual Business Leadership Conference

East Carolina University’s College of Business (COB) will hold its fourth annual Business Leadership Conference April 10-11 at the Mendenhall Student Center.

The two-day conference, open to COB juniors, seniors and graduate students, complements the intensive leadership preparation students receive while enrolled. Speakers and breakout sessions will prepare students for the realities of the business world and provide opportunities to interact with conference speakers, ECU’s Business Advisory Council, alumni, employers and community members.

Janice Bryant Howroyd (Contributed photo)

Janice Bryant Howroyd (Contributed photo)

Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and CEO of ActOne Group, will be this year’s keynote speaker. She will speak Tuesday, April 10, from 1-1:45 p.m. in Mendenhall’s Hendrix Theatre.

More than 40 additional leaders and entrepreneurs representing hospitality, banking, finance, accounting, sporting and health care industries will participate in more than 25 breakout sessions during the event.

Discussions include:

  • CEO lessons learned with Chad Dickerson, former CEO with ETSY and John Chaffee, CEO with NCEast Alliance.
  • Paths to sports marketing jobs presented by Kelly Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Erdman of the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • From student to professional with COB alumna Angelina Brack, VP with JPMorgan Chase, who will talk about how students should focus on their foundation.
  • Words of wisdom from Business leaders Tom Arthur, retired CEO of Havatampa, Bob Arthur, retired president of Philadelphia Investment Management Company, and CEO Eddie Smith of Grady-White Boats.

Approximately 1,000 business students are expected to attend this year’s conference.

“This is my favorite time of year at the College of Business,” said COB Dean Stan Eakins. “During the conference, students will be able to hear from major national and international leaders that represent a variety of backgrounds and successes. I, for one, can’t wait to hear what these leaders have to say.”

Born in Tarboro, Howroyd founded ActOne Group in 1978. Today, the company is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise with multiple divisions including AppleOne (staffing), ACheck Global (background checks and screening), and AgileOne (workforce, total talent management and procurement solutions). Each of these divisions service unique areas of workforce needs and provide total talent communities and management solutions across the globe. Staffing offices are located in more than 300 cities across the United States and Canada. ActOne Group does business in 21 countries and addresses the needs of workforce, technology and competitiveness.

Howroyd also is the author of “The Art of Work: How to Make Work, Work For You” and serves on academic and industry boards that promote the education and support of women and minorities in business.

“We are looking forward to hosting Ms. Howroyd,” said Eakins. “She spoke at last year’s conference and the feedback was so tremendous, we asked her to be the keynote for this year. We are so honored and proud that she accepted.”

For more information about the Business Leadership Conference and a detailed program, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-bus/conference/.

 

-Contact: Michael C. Rudd, College of Business, ruddm16@ecu.edu, 252-737-4574

Grant leads to historical collaboration between CET, COB

East Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology (CET) will collaborate with the College of Business (COB) for a first-of-its-kind project that will integrate product innovation with entrepreneurship.

Students from the College of Engineering and Technology and the College of Business will collaborate thanks to a grant.

Students from ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology and College of Business will collaborate and learn how to bring their products to market thanks to a new $27,000 grant. (Photos by Michael Rudd)

This collaboration is possible thanks to a $27,000 faculty grant from the VentureWell, which provides funding, immersive workshops and specialized coaching to student STEM innovators to help them move their inventions into the marketplace.

According to Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, assistant professor with CET’s Department of Technology Systems, one project objective is to strengthen team building, spur innovation and grow entrepreneurship at ECU and in the rural communities it serves.

Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala will lead a team of collaborators.

Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, second from left, will lead a team of collaborators that will help students to innovate and then pitch their products in future competitions. Also pictured: from left, Dr. Carlyle Rogers, ECU’s Office of Technology Transfer; David Mayo, College of Business and Miller School of Entrepreneurship; and Daniel Zuberbier, Joyner Library.

“We’re going to cross-weave two courses from different disciplines to produce teams that are well-versed in both business and technical expertise,” said Agarwala, who is the project’s principal investigator.

Over a three-year period, 200 CET rapid prototyping and COB entrepreneurial students will form 40 teams, with each team having two CET students with three COB students. The teams’ goal is to design and develop real-world products through engineering and entrepreneurship activities, which will ultimately lead to successful and viable ventures.

“Students will create prototypes of products using rapid prototyping and other advanced manufacturing techniques,” said David Mayo, a COB instructor with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship (MSOE) and project co-principal investigator. “The students will also develop business plans around the products and ultimately will present to groups of angel investors, granting agencies or banks.”

“I’m delighted about this VentureWell grant and thankful for the efforts of Ranjeet and David to build this first-of-its-kind CET-COB collaboration,” said Harry Ploehn, CET dean. “Technological innovation is the starting point for much of tomorrow’s successful entrepreneurship, and this grant will give our students a real educational advantage and the possibility of turning great ideas into startup companies.”

Dr. Carlyle Rogers, licensing associate with ECU’s Office of Technology Transfer, and Daniel Zuberbier, education & instructional technology librarian with ECU’s Joyner Library, will serve as collaborators on the VentureWell grant.

Business students Dagi Bayunga and Katy Stotter will work with College of Engineering and Technology students to learn how to launch and market innovations.

Business students Dagi Bayunga, left, and Katy Stotter, will work with College of Engineering and Technology students to learn how to launch and market innovations.

Student teams will work closely with the MSOE, which will provide support for product development and commercialization. The teams will also have access to mentoring at Joyner Library, ECU’s Idea Lab, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, and through the I-Corps @ ECU program.

With the grant, Agarwala, Mayo, MSOE instructors, university and local representatives will have the ability to send teams to apply for stage one of the VentureWell Entrepreneur-Team program. If chosen, teams will have the opportunity to win $5,000 in funding to help them find the right customers and deliver prototypes.

“The Miller School of Entrepreneurship was established to help all ECU students,” said Stan Eakins, COB dean. “This unique collaboration, I hope, will be the first step of many collaborations with many of our colleges. I look forward to seeing the innovation that will come from this project.”

“Who knows what great things may come of this,” added Ploehn.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

Miller School of Entrepreneurship names director

Dr. Mike Harris

Dr. Mike Harris has been named director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship. (Contributed photo)

East Carolina University and the College of Business (COB) have named Dr. Mike Harris the director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship (MSOE). Harris has served as MSOE’s interim director since January 2017.

“The removal of ‘interim’ recognizes the outstanding work he and the MSOE team have been doing,” said Dean Stan Eakins. “I look forward to working with Mike and making the school a national model for entrepreneurship education.”

Before being named MSOE director, Harris was the chair of the COB’s department of management, and for the past 18 years, he directed the college’s Small Business Institute. In 2017, he was also named a Small Business Institute Fellow.

As director of the MSOE, Harris will be responsible for curriculum and degree offerings, hiring faculty, and invigorating the entrepreneurial spirit across ECU and in eastern North Carolina.

Dr. Lee Grubb, currently the director of the COB’s Leadership Program, will serve as interim management chair.

“We’ve developed a strong team in the Miller School of Entrepreneurship,” said Harris. “I’m very excited to continue working with them, campus partners and the school’s statewide, regional advisory councils to build a destination school of entrepreneurship at ECU.

“It’s critical that we help students find their entrepreneurial passion and then connect them with the mentors and resources necessary to develop successful enterprises.”

J. Fielding Miller

J. Fielding Miller (Contributed photo)

Made possible by a generous commitment from Raleigh-area entrepreneur and COB alumnus J. Fielding Miller and his wife, Kim Grice Miller, the MSOE was established in 2015 and serves as a regional hub that prepares students to take an entrepreneurial mindset to their communities.

With the goal of being a conduit for transformation, the MSOE links the university and the region by developing and delivering entrepreneurship education and co-curricular student engagement.

“I am delighted with the decision to have Mike lead the Miller School of Entrepreneurship,” said Miller. “We did an exhaustive search and found that we had the perfect leader right in front of us. He has the creativity, work ethic and leadership qualities we need to build out a world-class program. The future is bright for future Pirate entrepreneurs with Mike at the helm.”

Transforming Indeed

MSOE’s impact in the region is evident with initiatives and programs that started since its beginning. The inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge kicked off in 2017, allowing teams of aspiring entrepreneurs from across campus to compete for $20,000 in prize money. MSOE and COB recently announced the new James W. Chesnutt and David A. Bond professorship that will support an associate or full professor who delivers entrepreneurial skills to students.

Entrepreneurship ChallengeAdditionally, the College received a $2 million commitment in 2017 from Van and Jennifer Isley of Raleigh that will provide a “hub” that houses the MSOE and where business, engineering, technology and art students can have “creative collisions” that produce innovation and entrepreneurship.

In total, the MSOE has mentored and tutored more than 100 students who are trying to turn their ideas into realities.

According to Harris, the MSOE is building a comprehensive program that will include a new undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship to complement COB’s entrepreneurship certificate.

“Along with innovative co-curricular activities such as the Pirate Challenge and I-Corps@ECU, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship will play a pivotal role in creating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Harris. “I truly believe the Miller School is a game changer on ECU’s campus.”

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

New College of Business professorship emphasizes teaching future entrepreneurs

Two East Carolina University alumni are funding a faculty position in the College of Business dedicated to developing future entrepreneurs.

The gift will establish the James W. Chesnutt and David A. Bond Professorship in the Miller School of Entrepreneurship. It will support an associate or full professor who will prepare ECU students to have an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset.

“They (Chesnutt and Bond) saw an opportunity to come together and jointly give the college a gift that reflects a passion for their alma mater, the region and developing future leaders,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of ECU’s College of Business.

Chesnutt and Bond are members of the college’s business advisory council and play an active role in the success of students in and outside the classroom.

“ECU has become a leader in providing both undergraduate and graduate level education in business, in addition to establishing one of the nation’s most successful and highly ranked online business programs. That commitment to leadership in business education continues with a gift from two of our very successful College of Business alumni,” said ECU Chancellor Cecil P. Staton. “Their success as entrepreneurs led to their support for a professorship in entrepreneurship, a gift that will prepare thousands of students to follow their path as successful businesspeople. This generous gift is a powerful testimony to a tradition of ECU alumni helping future alumni, and for that we are very grateful.”

Chesnutt

Chesnutt

Chesnutt, a 1963 ECU graduate, is CEO and chairman of National Spinning Company in Washington. He said he believes the new professorship will be good for the Miller School, the university and eastern North Carolina. His company has hired several ECU graduates, and all “have been outstanding … the kind of thing that businesses need to see,” he said.

“Graduates of the Miller School will, no doubt, contribute to the creation of new opportunities and creativity for existing businesses,” Chesnutt added. “The talent pool created by the school will add significantly to the ongoing need for growth in the east and throughout North Carolina. I look forward to the naming of an outstanding leader for the professorship for the faculty.”

Bond

Bond

Bond is the managing partner and co-founder of Raleigh’s Rock Solid Software. He graduated from ECU in 1978 with a degree in marketing. He would like to see the gift used to hire a “very inspirational, motivating professor that will spur on some entrepreneurship for our young students and future leaders.”

“I’m hoping that a lot of those students will stay in or around eastern North Carolina and not venture to Washington, D.C., Atlanta or Charlotte,” said Bond, who, as president and chief operating officer of Allscripts, led the successful acquisitions of Medic Computer and A4 Health Systems. “This part of the state needs these graduates to be the engine of its economy.”

“With this new professorship, we’ll continue to attract and retain the highest quality of faculty to help build the Miller School,” said Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship. “Thanks to Mr. Chesnutt and Mr. Bond for helping to ensure that we have great instruction in the classroom, increased entrepreneurial research and stronger engagement with students, university faculty and our community.”

The Miller School was established in 2015 thanks to a gift by J. Fielding Miller and his wife, Kim Grice Miller.

The Chesnutt and Bond professorship is the second for the Miller School. In total, the College of Business has nine professorships.

“The Miller School is making amazing progress as it looks to increase its engagement within the college and the entire East Carolina University community,” Eakins said. “The new professorship is made possible by Mr. Chesnutt and Mr. Bond’s strong belief in what we’re doing here at the school. Their commitment and gift will strengthen the school’s reputation as the conduit for innovation, leadership and entrepreneurs.”

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

ECU students pitch ideas in Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge

First-round voting was recently held for the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, a campus-wide event put on by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

First-round voting was recently held for the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, a campus-wide event put on by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Nearly 700 East Carolina University students and faculty cast approximately 2,000 votes in the first round of the inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, which recently took place in the sculpture garden between Mendenhall Student Center and the Joyner Library. Fifty-seven student teams pitched their ideas, products or dreams and put them on display during this open-air, tradeshow-style event.

Junior Ze’Ondre Slade, along with partner Klinterica Mitchell, formed one of 57 student teams to participate in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Junior Ze’Ondre Slade, along with partner Klinterica Mitchell, formed one of 57 student teams to participate in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The challenge is the signature business pitch competition sponsored by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. The entire ECU community was invited to participate, as long as one member of the team was an ECU student. Teams from the College of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering and Technology, College of Fine Arts and Communication, and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences participated in the event.

Junior Zeondre Slade, a criminal justice major, and junior Klinterica Mitchell, an education major, are co-partners in a venture called SPLASH Learning Center. Both want to combine their passions that started as internships in their hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Their goal is to open a learning-based destination for children that is a safe and secure environment.

“With me working in law, I can use those skills that I have learned throughout my college experience to work in the business,” said Slade.

Sophomore Taylor Hicks entered her existing business, Simple & Sentimental, in this year’s Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. If she wins, that money will go to “serve her clients better.”

Sophomore Taylor Hicks entered her existing business, Simple & Sentimental, in this year’s Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. If she wins, that money will go to “serve her clients better.”

Twelve teams, six chosen by ECU judges and six chosen from first-round voting, will move on to the second round. From there, five teams will advance to the third and final round and will be paired with individual mentors to help further develop the business concept. The competition concludes in February of 2018 with a total of $20,000 to be split between the first, second and third-round winners.

Making Plans

Taylor Hicks is a sophomore from Winston-Salem. As a freshman in 2016, Hicks started a company called Simple & Sentimental, which provides unique, hand-lettered products. She was an interior design major, but as it began to grow, she switched her major to business administration. The company currently has an Etsy account that has made more than 2,000 sales since opening. Hicks and her company participated in the challenge’s first round, and if she wins the competition, she already has plans for her winnings.

“We would develop a new product line to serve our customers better,” said Hicks. “We figured out what our customers like, and we need to keep going in that direction.”

Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business, attended the challenge’s first round and was very encouraged with what he saw.

College of Business Dean Stan Eakins meets with one of the 57 student teams who participated in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

College of Business Dean Stan Eakins meets with one of the 57 student teams who participated in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

“The variety of ideas, products and stories that were on hand was incredible,” said Eakins. “I’m glad these ECU students saw firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well at the university.”

“We had a number of goals we wanted to accomplish with this challenge,” said Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School. “First and foremost, we wanted to give these future entrepreneurs an outlet to get their ideas out there and an opportunity to make those ideas come alive.”

Harris also said that the challenge was a chance to educate ECU about the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and how its resources are available to anyone at the university.

Round two of the challenge will feature five mentors who will choose five teams based on a five-minute pitch and responses to a three-minute Q&A session. The Miller School will mentor a team based on the popular student vote from round one. This round will take place Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 5-7 p.m.

According to Harris, there will be another challenge next year.

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

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