‘Trep Takeover aims to bring expert advice to budding entrepreneurs March 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Launer Auditorium on the Columbia College campus. The event, which can be followed online by using the hashtag #TrepTakeover, will include the following panelists:
- Monica Mehta, managing principal at Seventh Capital, one of the nation’s leading experts on small business and a regular contributor to Inc. and Entrepreneur magazines.
- Jonah Lupton, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who has been named to CNN Money’s 25 most influential tech investors on Twitter.
- Monika Rydzewski, the founder of Connect.Inspire.Grow, recognized by the Chicago Tribune as a “video marketing expert.”
‘Trep Takeover is one of a series of priorities related to the college’s Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship. Steve Fishman, former CEO of Big Lots and a Columbia College alumnus, gave a gift of $500,000 to Columbia College in 2012 to start an entrepreneurship center. Although the project remains in its infancy, Fishman said the highlight of the past year has been pulling together an advisory board of experienced entrepreneurs from a variety of industries.
“[‘Trep Takeover] is a way to bring in successful young entrepreneurs that young people can relate to and are a bit more age-concentric with our audience,” Fishman said. Although the event is open to the public, Fishman hopes to see not only Columbia College students but also high school students looking toward their future.
“We want them to look at us differently than the other mid-Missouri schools,” Fishman said. “We want to be something unique and eventually have students coming to Columbia College for something they just can’t get anywhere else.”
Fishman’s decision to create the center began when he visited his alma mater a few years ago to sit in on some student presentations. At the end of the presentations, Fishman asked what the students planned to do with their ideas.
“Most of them got glassy eyed and said maybe they’d get lucky and sell the idea to someone else,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be the greatest if they knew how to start a business from the ground up?’”
Although he had seen academic entrepreneurship programs on the coasts, he saw a growth opportunity for Columbia College.
That, in essence, is the 30,000-foot view of the Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship. The next steps for the entrepreneurship center include the start of a degree program in entrepreneurship this August, development of a wide range of internships and continued funding of student ideas, which Fishman began three years ago with annual $5,000 scholarships to student business ventures.
Fishman said the board is also considering hiring a director for the center, and continues to seek out space for a brick-and-mortar presence on Columbia College’s campus.