Through the entrepreneurship program at Westminster College, several students balance their schedule as full-time students with their passion for developing their own businesses.
Westminster launched an entrepreneurship minor in fall 2017 with Associate Professor of Management Clifford Hurst, Ph.D. as the head of the program. Hurst, who brings 24 years of experience to the program, said his vision for the minor was for students to major in their passion and minor in entrepreneurship so they could turn their passion into a career.
The entrepreneurship minor integrates interdisciplinary skills through courses in accounting, marketing, communication, management and finance according to the college’s website. The 24-credit program is available for anyone at Westminster to declare.
“The only prerequisite I have is that you have to come to class with an idea for a business,” Hurst said. “I tell students, ‘Hey, if this turns into a business you launch, great and if it doesn’t, at least you’ve learned the process to do it.”
Students in the program learn how to think as an entrepreneur, raise money and market start ups, according to the website. Students will also create a business model, executive summary, business plan and promotional videos.
Hurst’s students said he focuses on what it actually takes to be an entrepreneur by teaching the mindset and the skill set.
“Students who need to know the right answer don’t do well here […] you’ve got to be comfortable in that ambiguous circumstance and uncertainty,” Hurst said.
In other words, entrepreneurs must prepare to fail and learn from their failures.
Managing school and businesses
Some Westminster students balance their coursework and studying with commuting and full-time jobs. Students who are entrepreneurs also run businesses on top of everything else.
Amanda Shepherd is a mom of three, a full-time transfer student from Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) and runs a tattoo shop named Black Candle with her husband. The tattoo shop, that has been around for 20 years, recently transferred ownership to Shepherd and is located at 1465 S State St..
“It’s a balancing act,” said Shepherd about being a mom, a full-time student and a business owner. “I have a great partner, so we just tackle it one day at a time and try to get whatever we need done and accomplished.”
Shepherd received her associates in business at SLCC and is majoring in arts administration with a minor in entrepreneurship at Westminster. She is currently working on creating a new logo, business cards and a website for Black Candle.
“There’s certainly a lot of things going on, and sometimes it feels like school’s holding me back from work,” said Ezra Schofield, a senior custom creative entrepreneurship marketing major. “But at the same time, I’m learning so much that once I’m out of school, all those things will be really valuable.”
Schofield has created a one-person advertising agency that does graphic design, video production and photography for corporate clients, law firms, construction companies and sometimes portraits for individuals. He said his goals after graduating in spring 2020 are to do freelance videography, photography and branding or learn the ropes at an advertising agency.
Entering competitions to grow businesses
Some students enter into business competitions to help fund their business ideas.
Brigham Jackson, senior finance major and economics minor, attends class, works at Goldman Sachs and is an entrepreneur. He developed the Other Half app and won Westminster’s Opportunity Quest with the idea in 2017.
Opportunity Quest is Westminster’s annual business model competition where students showcase their business ideas. Jackson put the $5,000 he won towards a patent for his social discount app.
The Other Half app works when two people open the app in the same space. Once they have the app open then they can get discounts to that place.
Having a busy schedule, Jackson said he is motivated by a piece of advice he received from his soccer coach.
“Do more than less,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of people who talk and there’s a lot of people who are trying to take the easy route, but if you find yourself doing more than less, we’re going to be successful.”
Altynay Kosherbek, a marketing major and entrepreneur minor from Kazakhstan, is developing a dog walking app called Doggo. The social app enables dog owners to meet together and hang out with their dogs. She also wants to create a service app where people will walk and sit your dog.
“I’m planning on entering as many business competitions as possible to raise more funds,” Kosherbek said.
Kosherbek plans on entering Opportunity Quest this year for Doggo.
Outside of her dog walking business, Kosherbek is a full-time direct salesperson at BeeDynamic, an outsourced direct sales and marketing company. She works full time, goes to school full time and in between it all walks dogs. She wants to open a direct sales office at the end of the year separate from Doggo.
Pushing industries forward
Retired ski racer Hailey Duke is now creating boots that help skiers make turns easier. Duke, a major in finance and minor in entrepreneurship, said she wants to change the way the ski boot industry works.
“I want to push [the ski boot industry] forward […] and make sure that how it’s moving forward is actually based on data and real numbers,” Duke said.
Currently located in the garage of her house, Duke said she hopes that her business will take off. She said she is developing a great team to help her in the direction and guide her in this new territory.
“[I am] working with a local company called GoEngineer to help bring the technology up to speed, bringing in 3D printing and 3D scanning into the process along with the restructuring of the business model,” Duke said.
Growing a minor to a major
Hurst said he wants the minor to expand to help Westminster grow.
“I would love to see entrepreneurship as a reason students come to Westminster,” Hurst said.
Students at Westminster get the small class size and one-on-one time with the professors who are helping them grow a business, Hurst said. He said he admires the University of Utah and his students frequently collaborate with them, but Westminster offers a different kind of experience.
Hurst said that students can start a business that is an art studio, service business, or a consulting business and Westminster will help them achieve their dream.
“One of the things that makes us different is you can start a business here,” Hurst said. “There’s not necessarily the silicon valley notion of a tech startup […]. That’s one model but it’s not the only model.”