By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern
“Alright, who wants some Bloody Mary mix?”
Not exactly the words you’d expect to hear when you walk into your Thursday afternoon class.
Brian Hayden, undergraduate lecturer and instructor of ENTR 490.002, is bringing something new to the table. And no, it’s not always Bloody Mary mix. As Business Week proclaimed him as one of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs, Brian has had his fair share of experiences in the world of entrepreneurship. From being the President at HeatSpring and the Founder of ShapeLog, Hayden knows exactly how to identify a problem, find a market, and fix a problem.
The Center for Entrepreneurship’s ENTR 490, otherwise known as Finding Your Venture, is a class that encompasses everything from pickles to publishing, Bloody Mary mix to business creation. Finding Your Venture is…well…doing just that! Students in ENTR 490.002 find themselves immersed in a culture of entrepreneurialism and creativity as they validate and pursue turning their own ideas into ventures. With Brian’s guidance, students find themselves inspired, educated, and ready to discover the right opportunities for their businesses.
Beyond helping students grow their ideas, Hayden has been known to bring in a multitude of amazing, startup speakers, mentors, and entrepreneurial super-stars. Last week, Finding Your Venture brought in Bob McClure from McClure’s Pickles to share his successes, struggles, and of course- their famous Bloody Mary mix. Beginning with a kitchen operation bringing merely $15k a year, the McClure brothers have grown an idea into a $5.7 million dollar company in just 10 years, by selling craft pickles, chips, and drink mixes. McClure was able to share his knowledge with ENTR 490 students about niche-market targeting and product partnership strategies. “We don’t want to be the next Hines,” says McClure. “We want to be the first McClure’s.” He told students the importance of sticking to your company values and offering something customers can’t get anywhere else.
Speakers like McClure inspire greatness in entrepreneurship students, showing that putting theory into practice can result in a career of passion and interest, and that the path to success never takes shape the way you expect. McClure also gave students expert feedback on their own ventures, which are well underway.
This brings us to Eric Aleman- a lover of books, and senior math and entrepreneurship student. Aleman decided to take ENTR 490.002 just to see where his idea could lead him. As a self-proclaimed bookie, Eric wondered if there was a way to write a book even if you don’t have the time, talent or resources to do so. Inspired by some of his favorite authors, he set out to create a company that would help those without much time or writing experience get their ideas published. The process is simple, efficient, and cost-effective for all involved. The author contracts Aleman’s company, Articulate Books, to help him or her outline their story with brief summary paragraphs, then an experienced staff writer takes the reins to turn those ideas into an actual novel. The Articulate writers translate spoken word into written prose- producing quality, original content. Next, Articulate Books helps the author in developing a cover design, publishing, and even brings that book to the online marketplace.
“When I began the class, Brian asked what my vision was for my company. I told him that I’d like to have a solid, revenue-producing company up and running in the next 2-3 years,” says Aleman. “But it’s been three months, and due to the experiences I’ve had to go through in the class, I already have my very own start-up.” Throughout his time in the Finding Your Venture course, Eric has obtained an LLC, established a quality network of interested and potential clients, done market research and officially claimed the title of CEO & Founder of Articulate Books. “Beyond this class, the Center for Entrepreneurship has helped me grow through their endless resources and mentorship. Without this class and CFE’s guidance, it’s safe to say that my company wouldn’t be where it is today,” Eric adds.
So, if you’re looking to find your venture, explore the entrepreneurial scene at Michigan, and enjoy the occasional Bloody Mary, enroll in ENTR 490 to make your winter semester one worth remembering, and one worth investing in.