By Bradley Dice – November 17th – 23rd, 2014 marked the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Week. This seven day international celebration of entrepreneurs, begun by Kansas City’s Kauffman Foundation, encouraged a series of events on the William Jewell campus this year.
These events were promoted and supported by Jewell’s five University Innovation Fellows, in collaboration with the Creativity and Innovation program, Student Senate, and other partners. The Fellows for 2014-2015 are Bradley Dice, Conner Hazelrigg, James Milam, Amelia Hanzlick, and Kate McFerren, who serve William Jewell as an interdisciplinary team and work to catalyze a campus culture for innovation and entrepreneurship. Nationally, the Fellowship now includes 168 students representing 88 institutions. The program is run by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), funded by the National Science Foundation, and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA). Following are some highlights from the week:
University Innovation Fellow Kate McFerren collaborated with Student Senate to invite James Baxendale, the director of the Whiteboard2Boardroom program at the UMKC Innovation Center, to Jewell on Monday, November 17th. Baxendale spoke about student entrepreneurship and student intellectual property, the process of seeking assistance from mentors, legal counsel on patents and commercialization, and the influential role that young entrepreneurs play as problem solvers and job creators.
Mr. Bill Cobb, President and CEO of H&R Block, Inc., gave the annual Truex Lecture on November 19th. Cobb emphasized the paramount importance of developing a leadership culture that values honesty and establishes trust. The Jewell community joined the conversation through a live Twitter feed of questions hashtagged with #askbillcobb, developed by University Innovation Fellow Bradley Dice. Cobb responded to a student question about young entrepreneurs, “There is a wonderful quality to entrepreneurs. Celebrate it. […] Good entrepreneurs stay true to idea and ideal.”
William Jewell’s Director of Creativity and Innovation, Mr. Landon Young, held workshops throughout the week for Jewell staff members and his creativity classes, teaching the Lean methodology of problem solving. “Lean,” a strategy popularized by author Eric Ries in his book, The Lean Startup, involves a process that resembles a scientific approach, wherein hypotheses are tested and data are acquired about whether potential customers are actually interested in the product or service being offered. Customer interviews were a key component of this Lean workshop, with students talking to others outside the classroom and empathetically understanding their perspectives in order to serve their needs. In one of these Lean workshops, a student team critiqued the campus and concluded that art was needed. Then, the team led a collective art project, where students contributed to a community mural. They found that building community through art was a well-received value proposition, and brought that idea to fruition.