Creating tomorrows entrepreneurs

Bobby Lee, a senior political science major, has dreams of one day opening a rafting outfitter. As co-manager of BootstrAPPs – a student-run entrepreneur store – he has been acquiring the necessary skills to start his own business.

BootstrAPPs, formerly known as the E-Store, is located in University Bookstore and is the only one of its kind in a public university on the East Coast. The store is run completely by student vendors and volunteers. The store opened two years ago with support from the Association of Student Entrepreneurs (ASE) and the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship.

“Working for BootstrAPPs has given me practical experience in running a new venture. I’ve taken classes in entrepreneurship, but it’s very hard to get hands-on experience in the field,” said Lee. “BootstrAPPs has helped me to develop the skills necessary to start my own business, such as becoming a more effective communicator and a better leader.”

During the spring semester, the store housed 12 student vendors and was run by 40 volunteers. As co-manager, Lee trained volunteers to run the store, organized the store’s daily schedule, and assisted vendors with their retail items.

“BootstrAPPs gives students the chance to turn their talents into a living,” said Lee. “The store, along with the other resources offered by the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship, gives students the chance to get practical experience in the field of entrepreneurship.”

Entrepreneurship at Appalachian

The U.S. Small Business Administration stated in its 2013 newsletter that small businesses “significantly impact North Carolina’s economy.” They represent 98 percent of all employers and employ 47.8 percent of the private-sector labor force.

Student interest in entrepreneurship has been growing at Appalachian. Nearly half of all students taking entrepreneurship courses and attending related activities in the Walker College of Business are non-business majors.

To foster their entrepreneurial energy and ambition, Appalachian’s Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship helps prepare students for success through co-curricular and outreach programs. These include:

“We have something for everyone,” said Dr. Heather Dixon-Fowler, the center’s director. “Entrepreneurship incorporates so many different types of majors, people and interests. There isn’t one ‘type’ of student served by the center. We welcome all students to utilize the resources we offer.”

One of them is senior marketing and management double major Carson Cole. “Entrepreneurship can be tied into any area of college. With passion and ambition, students can do what they have always wanted to do. The center helps to provide student guidance and resources to make their ideas come to life,” he said.

The center provides students with resources to develop and grow their businesses including a student lounge, meeting area and office space. Previously the center was housed in the basement of Raley Hall and consisted of one office. Thanks to a generous gift from Transportation Insight, the center is now in a 1,700 square-foot space.

“I have seen what it has meant for the students to have a place that is not just a single office. The energy is completely different,” said Dixon-Fowler. “Our new location makes us very visible to students and has already had a transformative effect on our student entrepreneurs.”

Students can participate in these opportunities:

Dale Tweedy Mentor Program

Thus program provides students access to successful role models. They have the opportunity to better understand and examine real-time business opportunities and problems that face everyday entrepreneurs, and develop valuable relationships, skills and attitudes to help them achieve success. Learn more

Startup Accelerator Program

This program connects students with the resources and guidance to make their business more successful. Students accepted into the program have access to their own desk area for the semester, along with a conference room and other business facilities. Mentors and speakers share their experiences and work with the student-run businesses to help foster growth and development. Learn more

The Carole Moore McLeod Entrepreneur Summit

At this event, students meet, network and learn from 70+ successful entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur summit was named for Carole Moore McLeod, a 1981 business graduate of the Walker College of Business and member of the center’s advisory board. Learn more

The Association of Student Entrepreneurs

The Association of Student Entrepreneurs (ASE) is a student-run organization that brings more than a dozen entrepreneur guest speakers to campus each year and sponsors numerous entrepreneurship activities

Student of the Year Entrepreneurship Award

This scholarship is presented to undergraduates who have exhibited exceptionally meritorious entrepreneurial achievement activities, such as starting socially minded or globally focused businesses, on-campus activities, as well as community service projects. Learn more