The first ever Entrepreneurship Week at the University of Indianapolis was filled with innovation, problem solving and student involvement, according to Associate Professor of Business Marcos Hashimoto. Entrepreneurship Week was organized by the School of Business and the School of Engineering with the purpose of creating a culture for entrepreneurial activities on campus, according to Hashimoto.
“We [SOB and SOE] shared the common interests in fostering an entrepreneurship culture on campus here at UIndy. And Entrepreneurship Week is one of the initiatives to make that happen,” Hashimoto said. “This is not only starting your own business, but taking the initiative to make the difference.”
Planning for the event started with the SOE contacting the SOB and the entrepreneurship club so the idea of organizing a week long program the whole campus could be involved with entrepreneurship, according to Hashimoto.
The American culture is founded on the values of entrepreneurship, as it gives people a way to build themselves and their business from the ground up and achieve the American dream, according to Hashimoto. Entrepreneurship as a career has grown significantly in popularity in recent years, and the week long event was designed to give students the information they need to pursue that lifestyle, according to Hashimoto.
“Part of the American culture is having heroes. Some of them are sports heroes, social heroes, some of them are fictional. But there are also entrepreneur heroes like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and others,” he said. “Part of the American culture is being successful entrepreneurs.”
Entrepreneurship Week featured off campus speakers and ended in a student competition. The first speaker of the week was a UIndy Alumnus and the Co-Founder and CEO of real estate company Holdfolio Sterling White.
The second speaker was Founder and CEO of Ecogenesis 11 Yanni Pandelidis. His company works directly with the medical industry to produce heart stents and other heart repair technology. Pandelidis spoke about start up companies and what his experiences working for companies like Gillette before founding his own company.
Anything that solves a need or a solution to a problem can become a product in a company, according to Pandelidis. He also showed students the difference processes of start-up companies and shared his first-hand experience of working with engineers to make real life products.
The Spark Competition was hosted on the last day of Entrepreneurship Week. It was an innovation competition in which students were invited to submit ideas on how to improve student life on UIndy’s campus. This year there were over 40 ideas submitted and an internal committee selected the best six ideas to be presented.
This year’s winners of The Spark competition were senior exercise science major Bryce Robertson and senior sports management major Ryan Laurent with their idea to improve and add to Schwitzer Park on campus. Currently the park features a basketball court, corn hole and hammocks.
The pair’s plan to add to the park included new fields and courts such as badminton, a stage and venue where concert could be held. As finalists, they had to present their ideas to a panel of judges and once chosen, the pair were awarded $1,000 to go toward their efforts.
“The whole way it started was that I was in Professor Hashimoto’s class and he told the class for extra credit we could submit ideas to improve student life on campus,” Robertson said. “We visited the park and came up with ideas to what to improve. We created a survey to ask students what they actually wanted added to the park. Then we implemented costs and gathered the information we needed to create our powerpoint.”
After beginning the project in Hashimoto’s class, Robertson asked his roommate, Laurent, to assist him in the competition. He said that he knew that Laurent would be a great partner, as he has interest in pursuing a career in entrepreneurship after he graduates.
“I found my drive for entrepreneurship about a year ago and I see the challenges that exist with it and those excite me,” Laurent said. “I want to figure out how to become an entrepreneur after college.”
Robertson and Laurent said that they were excited to see how they could designate the $1,000 to improve Schwitzer Park and make it a more enjoyable space for students and members of the university community. Robertson said that, as seniors, they want to be able to leave a legacy at UIndy by improving the park.
“I wanted something where I have personal satisfaction and the whole idea that we created something from nothing and be proud of,” Robertson said. “It was a challenge and I learned a lot along the way.”
Hashimoto said all of the events that were held took the initiative to educate students about how to use their entrepreneurial spirit to start their own business or even innovate in their careers in other fields.