The Missouri Student Unions are offering another year of the entrepreneurial program to students who wish to manage a small business in the Student Center.
According to the Unions Entrepreneurial Program’s website, the program was established “to nurture creativity among MU students while allowing them a high-traffic venue in the MU Student Center to fulfill their entrepreneurial endeavors.”
The program developed during several years while the Unions Board made plans for the new MU Student Center. The Unions launched the program in fall 2010.
The program requires students to flex their skills in finance, management and marketing in order to be successful businesspeople.
The application process to attain the space is rigorous. Students interested in managing a business in the student center must submit a business plan, a business advisor, an exit strategy and letters of recommendation from a faculty member and a professional in the student’s field of interest. Businesses are not allowed to compete with other Student Center enterprises.
“We usually have 30 to 40 people come to informational sessions to hear about the requirements,” Student and Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. “But then it may narrow from one to five applicants.”
In total, the project proposal is 10 pages with an additional 15-page appendix, which includes resumés of team members and other supporting materials. If selected, the student must submit monthly progress reports and financial summaries to the Unions.
According to the application, preference is given to students with significant experience in entrepreneurship and innovation.
The selected student gets to launch his or her business in room 1210 of the MU Student Center, a space with 325 square feet of space next to US Bank. Froese said they use the space rent- and utility-free and also receive free advertising opportunities. The Unions do not earn a profit from the business.
Alumni of the Unions Entrepreneurial Program are MizzMenus.com, a website for local restaurant coupons and discounts; Listener Approved, a music sharing website; and OMG Coupons, a mobile coupon application service.
Junior Kiarah Moore’s INDIEpendence Boutique currently is leasing the program’s space. INDIEpendence is a clothing, accessories and photography store that stocks only independent and local brands.
Froese said this is the first “brick-and-mortar” business the Unions Entrepreneurial Program has selected.
“We are open to any type of business, as long as they do not compete with other businesses in the student center,” Frose said.
Moore said she was not intimidated by the large proposal requirement or the task of running her own business while still in school.
“I have taken a lot of business classes,” she said. “I already had a lot of experience, so (the proposal) did not have much that I needed to consider.”
Like with most new businesses, though, it was a struggle for her to balance her time.
“The most difficult part is being in school full-time, working my other job and running a business,” she said. “I wish there were more hours in the day.”
Moore said her paid interns are a large help in maintaining the store when she is in class or at work.
The key to being successful in this program, Moore advised, is to have a set goal and a group of committed people to help.