Written by Evan Myers, News Editor
On the first floor in Hipp Hall, Furman University’s business majors work on state-of-the-art computers equipped with Bloomberg terminal technology, mastering the basics of accounting, finance, marketing and operations. An inviting space across the hall—equipped with white boards and dry erase markers—is now offering all Furman students the opportunity to explore another side of business: innovation and entrepreneurship.
Although Furman’s efforts to improve innovation and entrepreneurship began in the fall of 2018—when the University hired Anthony Herrera to develop talent, create and grow the Furman Entrepreneurial Ecosystem—the recently renovated space in Hipp Hall marks a significant increase in visibility for Herrera’s growing team, which now includes Derek Pedersen as Entrepreneur in Residence, Matt Reeve as the manager of campus programs and Katherine Boda as marketing manager.
From Nov. 18 to Nov. 24, Furman’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship team is “celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) with a number of events,” said Boda. On Monday, Nov. 18 the Scaling Impact CLP, which Boda described as “a conversation with faculty, alum and innovative leaders who are taking ideas and creating community impact,” took place at 5:00pm. On Tuesday, “Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship is hosting a 90 Second Pitch competition to scout out the best business ideas on campus,” Boda elaborated. Once identified, Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship hopes to help these business ideas develop and improve in preparation for a more substantial pitch competition in February 2020. The upcoming year also offers Furman students the opportunity to attend the Summer Business and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp from June 8 to June 26.
According to Boda and Reeve, this week Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship is also excited to open the competitive application for the Furman Innovative Network of Entrepreneurs—the FINE fellows for short. Looking for curious and creative problem solvers that challenge the status-quo and are always looking to launch or fix something, Reeve explained that the FINE fellows will “function as the innovative heartbeat on campus… keeping Furman ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education.” With a threefold purpose to develop, expose, and empower students, Reeve revealed that FINE fellows can expect “a personal mentor, access to speakers brought on campus, relationships with prominent alumni in innovation and entrepreneurship regions, and the opportunity to attend a global social entrepreneurship trip.” For students interested in applying, Boda encouraged them to email email@example.com for more information.
In the midst of launching these programs, Reeve and Boda both expressed that they have been encouraged by the number of innovative students on campus.“The more we look, the more students we find who already have business ideas or full-fledged companies,” said Boda. Sophomore music major Matthew Weir is one such student. From Greenville, SC, Weir wants to combine his love for his community with his love for the arts in order to paint the bridge under S. Main St. His vision, he explained, is “to add more character and optimism to Greenville’s art scene [by] turning dreary bridges into works of art.” Weir is particularly excited to be working with Furman’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship team, which he believes “has the potential to send Greenville into the entrepreneurial stratosphere.”
Another inspiring student is Safia Bouderka. Though still a first year student, Safia Bouderka is already an experienced entrepreneur. During her time at NEXT High School—another integral element of Greenville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem—Bouderka was a part of a number of start-up organizations that employed the i3 (interest, inquiry, and impact) process. In her opinion, “the beauty of NEXT High School is that students learn quickly they can build anything from scratch, and that there are plenty of community members who are willing to help if proper networking is done.” Bouderka also emphasized that the school encourages students to “realize their real-world potential” as well as to “learn how to fail gracefully and learn from it.”
With a new space in Hipp Hall, a robust slate of programs and an abundance of student talent, all the resources are on hand for Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week in a meaningful way—by beginning to transform the University and the region’s entrepreneurial landscape.