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July 7, 2013

Local students take business camp prize at Purdue College of Technology

NEW ALBANY — Among all their competition, their idea was the one that made the investors open their wallets.

Instead of funding an upstart company or new product line, though, they got a little boost for their college funds.

Kasey Fondren and Sam Mitchell, incoming seniors at Community Montessori and Christian Academy of Indiana, respectively, were part of the winning team for the inaugural Entrepreneurship Academy at the Purdue College of Technology in June.

“It was a great experience,” Fondren said. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of information.”

The summer business camp taught 22 students from Indiana and Kentucky how to develop a business plan and how to present it to investors.

Jay White, dean of the School of Business at IU Southeast, said giving students an opportunity to learn business practices before they leave high school could inspire them to cultivate their own innovations for the world.

“There are a lot of young men and women who might have smart ideas,” White said. “A lot of these students have product or service ideas of their own, but may not have any idea of how that might come into reality.”

Students had the opportunity to work with local business leaders in the region to develop practices in marketing, budgeting and other important facets of selling an idea.

“This was a great way to meet people,” Fondren said. “I got the business cards of at least 10 very interesting people and learned about businesses that started with people right out of high school or college.”

White also said the camp gave students an opportunity to see what was available to them in the area. He said as they begin to make up their minds about where they want to attend college, he thought the camp let them see that Kentuckiana shouldn’t be out of the running for their college applications.

“It’s not just giving them the knowledge and education, but letting them know they have resources here and that we’re willing to help them get going,” White said.

Paul Moses, director of the Purdue Technology Center of New Albany, said it also gave students a chance to see how resources between two different schools combine to make things work.

“It’s kind of an opportunity for them to see the two universities work together, see what’s available to them if they stay home and still get an undergraduate degree,” Moses said.

The $2,500 scholarship awarded to Fondren and Mitchell’s team was split among the four team members. Moses said the money could be used at any Indiana University or Purdue campus.

Mitchell said he might study engineering at Purdue after he graduates next year and has an interest in nanotechnology. But he said he’s glad he went through the camp to learn a few things about how ideas become products.

He said students who aren’t interested in business will still gain a lot from it.

“Definitely do it,” Mitchell said. “Even if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur, you’ll still learn things that will help you.”

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