Southeast Students Learn From Entrepreneurs During Field Experience

2013_stu_events_Entreprenuership WeekCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 20, 2014 – Students from Southeast Missouri State University’s entrepreneurship program participated in a field survey of entrepreneurship March 7 and 14 as part of the requirements for the course, “Managing and Growing the New Venture.”

The four-week class is taught by Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of entrepreneurship in the Donald L. Harrison College of Business.

The innovative experiential component of the class is made possible by a generous gift provided by Gene Burgess of San Antonio, Texas.

“Mr. Burgess is a graduate of the business program at Southeast and a very successful entrepreneur.  He believes that it is important for students to extend their learning beyond the classroom, and what better way to do that than have students visit entrepreneurial firms in our region,” said Stapleton. “Because of Gene’s generosity, we are able to provide this learning experience to our students at no additional cost,” he added.

Through collaboration with both the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce and Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, Southeast students were given the opportunity to visit local entrepreneurial businesses on March 7. Students started their morning at Cape Area Chamber’s First Friday Coffee and then, throughout the day, visited various Cape Girardeau and Jackson businesses. The businesses included Liberty Utilities, Signature Packaging, Big River Telephone, Broadway Prescription, RustMedia and the Broadway Biergarten. At each facility the students learned how the business was started, the unique aspects of their business model and how they have adapted to market dynamics to remain competitive. These generous businesses allowed Southeast students the opportunity to see a variety of real business models. 

On Friday, March 14, Southeast students visited three different startup environments in St. Louis.  Southeast alumnus Brian Kohlberg of Manufacturers’ Inventory arranged tours of the TREX Incubator, Center for Emerging Technologies and Lab1500.  Students not only toured these facilities but also got to talk with founders of startups and participated in discussion forums and small group sessions.

Jakob Pallesen, an MBA student at Southeast who participated in the class, said “visiting three incubators in St. Louis was an excellent opportunity to learn from, and engage with, entrepreneurs from many different fields. It allowed us, the students, to connect classroom material and discussions with real-world examples of on-the-rise entrepreneurial ventures. St. Louis is clearly a city with a flourishing entrepreneurial community, so I think it’s important for Southeast students to get this kind of exposure and direct connections into that community. I know I speak for the whole group in thanking Mr. Burgess for making this class possible.”

For more information about the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship programs at Southeast visit semo.edu/entrepreneurship or call (573) 651-2716.