Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

3d-Dream It, Design It, Develop It: A Venture Development Competition with a Co-Curricular Option

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

3d-Dream It, Design It, Develop It: A Venture Development Competition with a Co-Curricular Option

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In the fall 2001 a sophomore business administration had a simple idea for earning some pocket money between classes. The student began with a shipment of disc golf apparel, attempting to sale to local disc golf enthusiasts interested in conquering a course recently installed by the local municipality. What began as a small startup in a dorm room grew larger and relocated to a basement in an off campus house. From there, the business ballooned. After completing his bachelor's degree in business, the new graduate launched a venture that is now world-renown in the disc golf community and one of the largest manufacturers of disc golf equipment in North America. The business currently employs over 50 people and ships nearly 10,000 discs a week to disc golfers the world over. When asked about what courses he took to prepare for his business startup, he responded "I took the courses I needed to graduate and others that sounded interesting." An opportunity had been missed.

The venture development contest began with this story in mind. We did not want to sit idly by while potential entrepreneurs simply navigated the business school curriculum; we wanted to aid in their development. The curriculum was bom for an entrepreneurship minor, consisting of coursework deemed necessary for aspiring business owners. The entrepreneurship minor focused primarily on the theoretical skills associated with venture creation, the bones of which focused on four classes specifically: entrepreneurial management, small business management, entrepreneurial finance, and upper division marketing. A small cohort of students enrolled in the minor. At the end of their academic career most graduated with their entrepreneurial management minor and accepted entry-level career paths in corporate America. Although most self-identified with being an entrepreneur, somewhere there was a disconnect. In sync with current literature in the field, we asked a simple question, how do we connect students to the real world of entrepreneurialism?

In fall 2013, we considered entrepreneurship education one step further. We do not want prospective entrepreneurs to only leam it, we want them to live it. A business venture competition launched aimed at connecting students to the business community in a meaningful way. The competition was known as 3D: Dream It, Design It, and Develop It (3D). We identified a group of industry experts in the region to serve as judges. At the first meeting, the judges asked what the aim and scope of the competition was. Our response is fairly simple, "Make them feel uncomfortable." Starting a business is scary. Staring at your business front door on the first day of operation is nerve-racking. We want students to feel that.

This paper is intended to describe and explain the development process of the 3D competition. In three short years the program has grown to be a signature event for the School of Business, with nearly 100 student participants representing 38 unique business ventures in 2015. $14,000 in prize money has since been given to competition winners and 5 businesses have launched since its inception, including: a hunting trail cam technology company, an ostrich ranch, a touring company, and two phone/tablet applications. Although it took a bit of imagination and a whole lot of learning, the kindred spirit of entrepreneurialism has been lit in a community desperate for its fire.

THEORETICAL FOUNDATION

Gartner (1988) provided a very simple explanation of what an entrepreneurship is: the creation of organizations. He further explains that the difference between an entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurs create organizations. In the past twenty years, academic work on entrepreneurialism and entrepreneurial education has continued to emerge. Researchers on several occasions have questioned whether entrepreneurship education can be taught (Aronsson, 2004; Kirby, 2004; Henry, Hill, and Leitch, 2005), and if so, to what extent (Pribadi, 2005)? …

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