Monthly Archives

April 2011

Dr. David Deeds' Posts

Update on the winner of the 1st Annual Fowler Challenge

Derek Buschow and Jeremiah Messerer have made great progress with since winning the Graduate Division in the 1st Annual Fowler Challenge.

Derek recently sent this update:

“We have been working hard to get companies signed up for our Beta test.  We currently have close to 8 companies signed up, and we have quite a few demos over the next couple of weeks.  We are continuing to add functionality, which we believe, is differentiating us and making our product more of an “all around” application.  We’re hoping to be to market sometime this summer.”

If you’re looking for a better way to hire visit their site at


Entrepreneur Awards Ceremony

Don’t miss this year’s Annual Entrepreneur Awards Ceremony being held Thursday, May 5th in the Schulze Grand Atrium.  This year, the John F. Cade Award winners are Pat and Jim Ryan of Ryan Companies, Alan Bignall of ReconRobotics is Entrepreneurship Alumnus of the year, and the Family Business of the Year is Kowalski’s Markets.  You can register for the event at the website  Please join us for our 22nd celebration of St. Thomas entrepreneurship this year.

Dr. David Deeds' Posts

Congratulations to Project Skyway & Cem Erdem

Project Skyway, Minnesota’s first tech venture accelerator, has begun accepting applications from tech entrepreneurs.

Project Skyway is the vision of Cem Erdem, founder and CEO of Augusoft, Inc. Cem and his team have designed a fantastic program to connect tech entrepreneurs to mentors, investors, entrepreneurs and work their tails off to accelerate the development of their ventures. This is great addition to the entrepreneurial community here in Minnesota and long overdue.

The deadline for applications is Midnight May 1st. If you want to read more, apply or support this welcome addition to our community visit

Dr. Jay Ebben's Posts

The Thing That Leads to the Thing

In my last post, I talked about the common perception that businesses are only worth pursuing if it involves something innovative or if it can be a multi-million dollar business.  I actually think that with first-time entrepreneurs, especially younger ones, there is some wisdom in encouraging them to pursue less-complex opportunities.  Because there are so many aspects of starting and running a business that can’t be anticipated, it is rare to see an entrepreneur “truly succeed” with his or her first venture.  The ones that do succeed have products or services that evolve from the original concept.

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Fowler Challenge Information Sessions April 19th

Have you heard the buzz about last year’s Fowler Challenge? Interested in competing for thousands of dollars in scholarships?  Looking for a chance to present your idea in front of very successful entrepreneurs?

Then you can get  a head start on the competition by attending one of the first two information sessions for the Fowler Challenge on April 19th. The first will be during the Convo hour (11:30 – 12:45) in McNeely Hall room 114. The second will begin at 5:00 pm  in Schulze Hall Room 407.

For more information visit

Dr. Mark Spriggs' Posts

Evolving Auto Dealer Franchises

Can growing companies learn something from recent events in the US auto industry?

In 2009, the big three US automakers had two times as many franchised dealers vs. all import brands combined.  Accepted wisdom for years was that more intensive distribution translates into more sales, but then total sales dropped from a steady 17 million in 2006 to 10.5 million in 2009, and Big Three market share dropped under 50%.

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Dr. Alec Johnson's Posts

The Joy of It

I was having lunch in “The Lab”, a UST Entrepreneurship classroom and student development incubator, with Kate Herzog (MBA 2009).  Kate is the founder of House of Talents (, a business she incubates from our Lab. During our discussion she noted, “Some days my business just moves so fast…I never sit down.  Who would have thought it would be this way?  But I’d never trade it back for my old corporate job.  I get so much joy from running my own business.”

Dr. Alec Johnson's Posts

Failure Isn’t Natural

Most of you have heard some statistic about the high failure rate of new businesses.  I admit, those statistics are a bit intimidating.  If someone told me that there was a 6 out of 7 chance (I hear that statistic a lot) of my new business failing within the first two years, I’d be considering a different career.  What fascinates me most, though, is the implicit assumption by researchers and media alike that these statistics are somehow an outcome of a natural law – that starting a new business has an extremely high level of unmanageable risk and uncertainty.  I couldn’t disagree more.  My vast anecdotal experience suggests that 4 out of those 6 failures result from poor choices made by the founder – not some unfathomable invisible force, like gravity, set upon us by the earth’s proximity to other large planets.

Entrepreneurship, like art, has very few laws that it must abide by, the least of which is some natural law of failure.  There is risk and uncertainty for sure, but most of it can be managed in a way that moves your odds of success from 1/7 to something more like 5/7.

Dr. Jay Ebben's Posts

The Risk of Failure?

In my experience, two of the key roadblocks that keep people from heading down an entrepreneurial path have to do with risk.  The first is the risk that if they start investigating their concept, they will be told they have a “bad” idea.  The second is what happens if they start the business and it doesn’t work out?

This is why programs like our practicing entrepreneurs group and our entrepreneurial lab are so important.   Continue Reading