Weber State University: Training the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

Utah is often cited as one of the best in the nation for business, careers, the creation of new jobs and innovative businesses. What is behind all of these sterling rankings? The state’s entrepreneurs. Utah’s economic successes can be largely attributed to these innovative and risk savvy individuals who produce new jobs through new companies and innovative products.


While entrepreneurial spirit and ideas are important, having the skill sets needed to open a local restaurant or develop and bring a top of the line technology to market are important assets to have for a successful business.  With Utah’s entrepreneurial culture, many students entering the workforce want the opportunity to start their own business. Beginning in fall 2013, the Goddard School of Business and Economics at Weber State University (WSU) will offer a new Minor in Entrepreneurship to bridge this gap between desire and application.

The entrepreneurship minor is available to all students attending WSU, including non-business majors. The program is designed to take only one year to complete, and focuses on real world experience and a chance to start a new business.

“The goal is to help students start and run actual companies that produce revenue, profits and create jobs while they are still in school,” said Alex Lawrence, director of USTAR TOIP Northern region and vice provost for innovation and economic development. “This program gives a true to life, hands-on experience that is the real thing in entrepreneurship.”

Tapping into the desire that many budding entrepreneurs have, the program is designed to help students learn how to start a new business, determine if their ideas are marketable and teach them about securing funding for their businesses.

The minor includes six classes focusing on building and developing a real business. In addition, the program also offers a unique opportunity for funding for the businesses started during the program. The top four companies that have the most customer traction and revenue will be able to receive $ 25,000 per startup to grow the business further during the final two courses. In addition, WSU will not take equity in the new companies and only after a company achieves $500,000 in revenue, they will pay back the initial loan.

“The program is taught by ‘real world’ entrepreneurs who are, or have recently run and started companies,” said Lawrence. “This means a lot of time outside of the classroom working with actual customers, building actual products, generating actual sales, starting actual companies and hiring real employees,” said Lawrence.

Faculty members include Lawrence, Robert Dotson, former CEO of T-mobile, and Sarah Lehman, CEO of ENVE, a Utah based company and one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-end carbon bicycle rims and related products.

In addition to developing the minor, Lawrence heads the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiatives Northern Technology Outreach Innovation Program (TOIP). The TOIP program helps the state’s entrepreneurs and existing companies commercialize new technology and access the resources with the opportunity for financing to drive local entrepreneurship. The new minor will help ensure a continued stream of innovative companies into Utah’s entrepreneurial network and economy far into the future.

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