When Isaac Knapp was 12, he started what would grow into a four-year poultry business, raising and selling chickens. Today, the Wright State English graduate student heads up The Entrepreneur Club, a new student organization he hopes will attract students from all of the university’s schools and colleges.
“We are particularly interested in getting students who are interested in entrepreneurship, but not just business and engineering students,” said Knapp. “I hope we see a big range of ideas — from high-tech inventions to dance studios to restaurants and many other areas.”
The club will be launched during a ceremony in the atrium of Russ Engineering on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. Featured speakers will include Wright State President David R. Hopkins and Scott Koorndyk, president of The Entrepreneurs Center, an organization that helps entrepreneurs establish startup businesses in the Dayton region. The event will include networking opportunities as well as free pizza and snacks.
The Entrepreneurs Center has worked with Wright State to create The Entrepreneur Club.
The club is free and open to any Wright State student. Members will be able to network, hear expert speakers, meet potential mentors, get business-model and commercialization training, learn how to fund a startup business, take part in competitions and network with the region’s executives about potential jobs.
Knapp said the club may be more helpful to students who haven’t taken any business classes than those who have. Knapp, who is working on his master’s degree in English literature, is hoping to gain the knowledge to use his degree in an entrepreneurial way.
“Even if your goal is not to start your own business out of college, that entrepreneurial vision is going to make you better at whatever you do,” he said.
Knapp said the club will enable members to share ideas with each other and form collaborations and partnerships. He expects there to be a meeting or an event — such as a panel discussion with local entrepreneurs — once every few weeks and that members can be involved as much or as little as they choose.
“The overall mission is to help drive more entrepreneurial initiatives and create more interest in startup businesses in the region,” said Chris Wallace, executive director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Wright State’s Raj Soin College of Business. “That strengthens the economy and leads to more and better jobs as well as a higher standard of living.”
Jordan Roe, technology acceleration project manager for The Entrepreneurs Center, said members of the club will gain access to resources at the center, including speakers, competitions and help with business plans.
“To make Dayton a more entrepreneurial community, it starts with entrepreneurial education,” said Roe, who has a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from Oklahoma State University. “Why not make Wright State a great entrepreneurial training ground? That feeds right back into our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
In 2014, the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Wright State was founded by Joanne Li, dean of the Raj Soin College of Business, in order to give more experiential learning opportunities to Wright State students and provide more training to prepare graduates for working in the business world.
One of the institute’s key products is Business 4000, a course that provides students with projects that have the potential to be commercialized.
The class works with technologies developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory and at the Wright State Research Institute. WSRI created a website called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Dayton Tech & Startups. The website is designed to be a one-stop shop for startups and entrepreneurial-related resources and news.
For more information on The Entrepreneur Club, students are asked to visit the club’s page on Facebook.