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Black Student Business Caucus gathers students, professionals to discuss entrepreneurship at OU

Hannah Ticoras
September 16, 2014

Interactions between student clubs and working professionals are sometimes difficult to organize, not for the Black Student Business Caucus (BSBC). The group had their first event last week, inviting professionals from TechGROWTH Ohio and the Center for Entrepreneurship, as well as students from the Ohio University Entrepreneurs club, to discuss opportunities for student entrepreneurs at the University. 

BSBC is one of the oldest organizations on campus affiliated with the College of Business. Christina Perry, treasurer/secretary of the BSBC and a sophomore triple major in dance, accounting, and business law, said the speakers helped members navigate all of the opportunities for entrepreneurship on campus. 

"The goal is for students to get the inspiration to go out and present their idea and do their idea, and that they have the resources to back them up," she said. Perry said she didn't know about all of the opportunities on campus until the event, and was thrilled by what she heard. 

"You can tell by [the speakers'] eyes when they are passionate about it, and that's what gets everybody else excited," she said. 

John Glazer, director of TechGROWTH Ohio, began the event by discussing what it means to be an entrepreneur. TechGROWTH supports the region's technology entrepreneurs with services such as professional workshops and information on starting a business, entrepreneurs in residence, and access to capital. TechGROWTH focuses on high-growth opportunities, meaning goods or services they believe will increase in profitability over time. 

TechGROWTH is especially interested in investing time and capital into student, Glazer said. "Student entrepreneurs are ambitious, talented, and have the most socially conscious ideas," he said. 

Glazer's introduction of student entrepreneurship segued into Luke Pittaway's discussion about opportunities for students at the Center for Entrepreneurship. Pittaway is the director of the center and a professor in the College of Business. Pittaway described the Center's offerings, touching on three main areas: entrepreneurship opportunities within the College of Business, across the University, and through extracurricular activities. 

Glazer and Pittway both encouraged students to sign up for the various pitch competitions and startup weekends that Ohio University offers throughout the year, including the center's Pitch Competition, held in the spring. 

Caucus members heard from a peer as well: Taylor Van Neste, a senior majoring in marketing, management, and communication with a certificate in sales and entrepreneurship. Van Neste revitalized the Ohio University Entrepreneurs club last year, rewriting its business plan and structure to transform it from an inactive group of around six members to a highly active group of 30. That turnaround won the club the College of Business's Outstanding Student Organization Award for the 2013-14 year. 

Van Neste said the club's goal is to "create an environment where entrepreneurial students can come up with ideas and network with like-minded people. That environment can pay off: After graduation, Van Neste plans to start an exercise supplement company with two entrepreneurs he met in Ohio University Entrepreneurs. 

The group regularly teams with the Center for Entrepreneurship for events and its members attend center events throughout the year.  

Joining groups such as Ohio University Entrepreneurs and Black Student Business Caucus is the first step toward a lifetime of entrepreneurship, Glazer said. 

"Being there to hear what's happening is 99 percent of getting there," he said. 

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Check out the Center for Entrepreneurship site for more info on Startup Weekend and pitch competitions. The center also has a blog, Bobcat Entrepreneur, that posts about all of their events. The TechGROWTH website can give students more information about the incubator and business services provided. 

Follow the Center (Facebook, Twitter), TechGROWTH (Facebook), Ohio University Entrepreneurs (Facebook), and the Black Student Business Caucus (Facebook, Twitter) on social media for update about events and becoming a member.