Entrepreneurship Opens Doors
new student club and minor at UW-Stout helping build momentum
A trip to Sweden in May for a business course called Arts and Innovation helped catalyze a new entrepreneurship club at UW-Stout. Two of the 12 students who traveled to Scandinavia, Kayla Bolster and Megan Nimsgern, jumped at the chance to join two other students, Tyler Ellefson and Kyle Gjerseth, to kick off the club last fall.
About 40 students have expressed interest in being founding members of a UW-Stout chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a nonprofit charitable corporation founded in 1983 that supports 16,000 emerging collegiate entrepreneurs annually.
Bolster, a senior business administration major from Rogers, Minnesota, is president of the new organization. “It’s surprising we don’t have a chapter right now,” Bolster said. “College is a place where students have cool ideas and don’t know what to do with a good idea.”
Nimsgern, a senior majoring in business administration from Menomonie, is vice president of the new student organization. She noted UW-Stout has a digital fabrication laboratory and is a polytechnic university, which are conducive to entrepreneurship.
UW-Stout will begin offering an entrepreneurship minor in the 2020-21 school year, according to Mary Spaeth, assistant professor of international business and entrepreneurship and author/adviser for the new minor.
The minor complements a wide range of academic disciplines, Spaeth said. It also supports effective discovery and innovation with an entrepreneurial mindset and provides a platform for students to commercialize a product or service idea or to start a business.
“It gives students an opportunity to build a toolkit to start a business, or if they work for a corporation they can work in what we call the ‘intrapreneurial’ part of innovation planning for that company,” Spaeth said.
On the Sweden trip, May 14-29, students traveled to five cities to learn about business incubation and the importance of innovation to a region’s successful economic development.
Bolster said the trip helped reconnect her with the arts and learn about innovation in another country. She believes younger people are interested in entrepreneurship. “I believe it is a generational thing,” she noted. “With technology, it is so easy to get ideas out there and market products by yourself.”