The Entrepreneurship class (EC320) involves no tests, no readings, and no papers, yet Professor Jim Parco says students still put in about 18 hours of work a day. The one requirement for its students is to create their own working businesses.
Students start by organizing their venture ideas in a development adjunct during Blocks 1 and 2 with the professor. Within the adjunct, students are exposed to the business world through guest speakers and field trips. “They’re geared toward doing something in the social realm,” says Parco.
Entrepreneurship began at the start of Block 3. Nearly every day, Parco invited different business professionals as guest speakers to guide the students, whose single task was to launch a business.
“If you don’t do that, you fail,” said Parco.
“Jim had very high expectations for us,” said senior Kate Hoffman. “It was definitely stressful because it felt like there was never enough time.”
Students know the risk of failing this class when they take it. However, if the students start off the class concerned about failing, they will fail. Parco credits such failure to focusing on the wrong things. The students are simply judged by their dogged determination, persistence, and engagement.
“If you’re all in, it shows. If you’re not all in, it shows,” he said.
This is only the second year that CC has offered this unique Entrepreneurship experience. The Block 3 class produced four new businesses.
“The businesses I see this year are some of the most creative,” Parco said.
TREEBORN was created by students Justin Perkins, Kate Hoffman, Alex Fitzgerald, and Nick Aherns. All avid nature-lovers, they resourcefully imagined the use of dangerous standing burnt trees from the Black Forest Fires of Southern Colorado to manufacture consumer merchandise.
As Kate Hoffman explained, the original idea for TREEBORN was to make wooden sunglasses, but the wildfire pine that the group wanted to use is too soft for sculpting delicate pieces, so the group pivoted their focus to MacBook cases.
“Our angle is that we use wood that was burnt in a forest fire,” says Hoffman. TREEBORN is also partnered with the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund.
The company’s slogan “design by fire” plays into the natural occurrence of wildfire pine wood’s beautiful texture. At a time when private land owners are paying to have the dangerous wildfire trees removed, TREEBORN has discovered a precious “diamond in the rough,” as its website (www.treebornco.com) says.
Student Drew Robson put together the company Vexworks, which focuses on matching small colleges with small businesses’ internships on a local level. Vexworks is currently in the process of “developing a website that will allow companies to post internships, volunteer opportunities, and small projects,” according to http://www.vexworks.com.
Counseling Bluffs was formed by CEO Arram Mandel and Alexander Summerfelt in the hope of matching men or fathers of divorced marriages with counseling sources. Its website, http://www.counselingbluffs.com, will soon assist men in seeking help and allow mental health professionals to expand their client base.
The pair that Jim Parco sees as the furthest along in launching their business venture is Tim Bruns and Will Harris. The two seniors are currently in the process of establishing the Palestinian territories’ first rock climbing facility through their company Wadi Climbing.
If Bruns and Harris are approved for a venture grant, both will leave for Rawadi, Palestine this July in the hope to launch their business in September. More details can be found on the company’s website: http://www.wadiclimbing.com.
Most college level entrepreneur classes only require students to develop a business plan, but here at Colorado College, Parco says, “You get pushed in the deep end and are told to start swimming.” One student even told Parco that he left the class everyday feeling sick because, as Parco says, there is so much passion involved in bringing a business to life.