Starting up at MSU

by: Jessica Colombo

Entrepreneurship at Michigan State University? That concept was a figment of our imagination until something happened: Drive and motivation for change. That’s the beauty of entrepreneurs, they are initiators.  A small group  realized that there are a lot of people interested in entrepreneurship in the East Lansing and Lansing area, but there was no way for them to connect or find each other. This idea spawned Gumball club, a grassroots group of entrepreneurial-minded students that get together every Friday to share ideas.  The group has grown organically from its founding in the fall of 2009 from three to a small tribe.

A few key members of the Michigan State University faculty realized the lack of support for entrepreneurship at the academic level.  As Michigan rebuilds, it will be imperative to foster student entrepreneurship and encourage them to start and keep their businesses in this great state. So in fall of 2010, The Michigan State University Entrepreneurship Network (or MSUeNet for short) was created with the help of a dedicated faculty and student team. This program will create a community support system or network of entrepreneurs, while offering an academic certification program that can supplement any degree program.

So now that we have students, we have an educational program to guide them, we needed a place for students to incubate these ideas and morph them into a business! (Because not all start-ups have to stay in your mom’s basement/garage). The Hatch, an incubator for student entrepreneurs opened its doors on March 31, 2011. The space is filled with walls of white boards, a mounted monitor that makes skype calls and group collaboration a breeze, work stations, and even couches to relax on after working tirelessly for countless hours. The Hatch currently has 15 company tenets that are working hard on their brain children. You can find The Hatch on the third floor above Barnes & Noble on Grand River Ave in East Lansing.

An event that brings more and more entrepreneurs together is Startup Weekend. MSU Senior, Eric Jorgenson can be credited with bringing the nationwide movement to the MSU community (Let him tell you about it in our video interview!). Startup Weekend is a 54 hour business building extravaganza that brings together web developers, coders, business people, marketers and people who want to learn more about start ups.  At the end of 54 hours, project teams present what they have been slaving over for the entire weekend to a panel of judges who award seed funding and other neat prizes to winners.

I had a chance to sit down with Eric and talk about the recent Entrepreneurship Movement at MSU. There is also some exclusive information from Zaarly hiding in here!

If you are interested in joining the movement, click here!

It has been so amazing to be a part of this transformation in ideation around MSU.  I am so thankful that I got plugged into the network, which has led me to outstanding friendships and countless opportunities.

Jessica Colombo is senior Spartan Marketer graduating in May from MSU. She recently accepted a position in Zaarly‘s world domination department as a Marketing Manager. In addition to working for MSUAA Career Services where she gets to do fun stuff like write for this blog, she also enjoys rocking out to old school Michael Jackson in her cube and eating coffee flavored Haagen dazs ice cream. Say hi @jcolombo

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