By Brittney Laryea
The Entrepreneurship Program hosted through the Terry College of Business at UGA finally has all of the components it needs to be successful. The program has been growing steadily since its establishment about 4 years ago, and now it has added an Entrepreneurship certificate this year to complement its existing Accelerator Program and Society of Entrepreneurs organization at the undergraduate level.
Second-year student and Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator Regan Durkin tells Elite, “This year is the first year where it has a lot of the elements that we’ve dreamed of.”
Entrepreneurship Certificate, Accelerator Program & Society of Entrepreneurs
The Entrepreneurship certificate added this year gives anyone interested in Entrepreneurship the ability to receive a certificate and take courses aimed at developing the entrepreneurial mind. The Accelerator Program is for students who have a business that is already somewhat developed. Students who fall into this category can apply for the program and get expert help developing their companies on a monthly basis. This process eventually prepares those who would like to compete for Terry’s Next Top Entrepreneur Competition.
Alex Edelstein is the President of Society of Entrepreneurs, which acts as the main undergraduate outlet for the program. The society’s main purpose is to challenge members through group projects to teach the basics of starting your own business. The society not only focuses on the business, but diversity as well. Edelstein believes diversity is a large component of the organization’s success.
“The goal for us is not just to attract terry students but to attract students from all different majors to collaborate and start businesses,” he tells Elite.
Durkin echoes the sentiment with her hopes for the society.
“I just hope that it continues to embrace people from all over UGA, not just in Terry and bring them in to develop that mindset,” she said, “because when different majors and stuff cross, really innovative things can happen.”
Students in the society learn the basics by focusing on the process, not just the product.
“Sure your business may never take off, but that’s not the point,” emphasizes Edelstein. “When the time comes when you have the resources and opportunity to actually do something, you’ll have the know how to do it”
Neerav Maniklal is an alum of the Entrepreneurship program who graduated in May 2014. He now works for Google as an Associate Account strategist and uses the company’s marketing channels to help small businesses grow. He says this would not have been his life if he had not run into Christopher Hanks while still a science major in his first year.
“I went to a couple of the meetings and heard professor Hank,” he said. “I ended up completely shifting gears. Changed my major, joined Terry, and really got involved with the program.”
Maniklal says that he contributes most of his growth in college to the program and its director, Hanks. Even today, working for Google he says he is able to use many of the entrepreneurial skills he learned through Terry.
Always Baked Goodies creator Brian Gamsey is another Terry Alum and says he owes a lot of his success to the entrepreneurship program. He was a Ph.D. student at Terry and started Always Baked Goodies from a class project in a course he took in the Entrepreneurship program. In that course, he set the foundation from what would evolve a delivery service with “one cookie” out of his home to an Always Baked store that opened up earlier this year.
“Without the inspiration and motivation from Chris Hanks, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have started Always Baked,” Gamsey told us. “It was something that has changed the entire course of what I was doing before.”
Gamsey is also the creator of the Triple Play Foundation, a foundation that uses sports to promote health education and community service to at risk youth in local schools.
It’s not so easy…
Edelstein and Durkin agree that the main challenge to the entrepreneurship program is the assumption that it is only for those in the Terry College of Business. Edelstien tells us this assumption is wrong.
“The problem you encounter with entrepreneurship,” he said, “is because it’s under the terry umbrella, people think, ‘oh, it’s only for finance and MIS students, they just want us for our coding skills, they want us for our design skills.’ That’s not the case. Sure they’re helpful but we want you to succeed just as much as any business student.”
The program combats these ideals by collaborating with other departments. For example, Durkin is currently leading collaboration with the aquaponics research department taking the produce grown through the research and using it to make pesto to sell.
Society of Entrepreneurs is also speaking with organizations in other colleges at UGA to find out the best way to target their students and get them interested. They use presentations, listservs, flyers and speakers to reach students. Right now, their main and most effective way of spreading the word is through class presentations.
Even with the challenges, the program has many success stories, including Always Baked Goodies, several students with online sales businesses, the AXON tutoring company (the Uber for tutors) and some amazing individuals.
A few last words from everyone about the program:
“It changed my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.” – Brian Gamsey, Creator of Always Baked Cookies.
“The #1 thing that I took away from UGA was that program…. It made me dream bigger and chase goals that I didn’t think I could reach.” – Neerav Maniklal, Associate Account Strategist for Google
“The program really transformed the way I think and just allowed me to see how I as a person can create value instead of just mooching off of value that other people have created in this world.” – Regan Durkin, Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator
“I’m a big fan of the program. I think Mark and Professor Hank are both rock stars, and I would encourage everyone who is even a little bit intrigued to join because it will be well worth it.” – Neerav Maniklal, Associate Account Strategist for Google
“Not everyone’s a leader, not everyone wants a leadership role. But you can learn to be more creative within that environment…We try to do this with these diverse groups and different challenges.” – Alex Edlestien, Society of Entrepreneurs President