Twelve aspiring entrepreneurs descended upon Anderson University’s campus last week hoping to create the perfect product pitch.
They spent hours planning, filming and editing one-minute infomercials for their product and mingling with other entrepreneurs who had already established their own companies and products.
The 12 business-minded people spent nearly three days immersed in the business world, but, as high school juniors and seniors, they still have plenty of time to come up with their own entrepreneurship dreams. [Editor's note: Click here to view the winning infomercial from the Anderson University 2009 Entrepreneurship Business Camp.]
The students attended AU’s business summer camp put on by the Falls School of Business and Students in Free Enterprise. The camp allowed them to meet Anderson entrepreneurs, tour their facilities and practice making pitches.
The finale event was an infomercial competition in which students pitched No Dirty Talk, an antimicrobial cell phone cleaner created by Elwood company Saf-T-Aid.
“We really like the idea of getting them involved and doing something real,” AU Associate Professor Greg Heberling said. “We don’t just have them write a business plan, we have them start their own business.”
Highland High School junior Kristin Dulaney’s favorite part of the camp was making elevator pitches, in which students took an idea and had a limited amount of time to come up with 60-second or five-minute pitches.
“You have to come up with your own product that you want to try to get investors to invest in,” she said.
Students learned skills in the camp that others wouldn’t be exposed to until they took college-level business and entrepreneurship courses, Dulaney, 16, said.
“I went in not knowing a ton about entrepreneurship,” she said. “I knew I liked business, but I didn’t know a ton about it. I really learned a lot more about business and entrepreneurship and the many things that can be done with that.”
Dulaney plans to double-major in college and expects one of her majors to be business-related.
Saf-T-Aid President Allen Traylor said the students’ infomercials for No Dirty Talk were creative and helpful for his business.
“They were all great, all creative, all with a little different flavor,” he said.
Saf-T-Aid is launching the trademarked No Dirty Talk in markets now.
The camp allowed students to win money with which to buy the right to use equipment for their infomercials, including cameras and backdrops. They came up with their own pitch ideas and did their own filming and editing.
“It helps our students. It ties it to the real world,” said AU Assistant Professor Emmett Dulaney, who is Kristin’s father. “It’s so much easier for them to see what we’re talking about.”
Emmett Dulaney helped organize the camp, which attracted students from all over central Indiana, as far away as Center Grove and New Palestine.
This year was the first for the camp, which has been a priority for SIFE students wanting to promote entrepreneurship in the area for about three years, Heberling said. The camp was funded through a grant, and an entrepreneurship class helped develop the camp and market it to high school students.
Emmett Dulaney said the school hopes to find sponsors for the camp next year.
Camp organizer JinAyla Sexton said students had provided good reviews on their experience.
“They were exhausted, of course, but they were also very excited when they were leaving,” she said.
Students especially learned from their visits to locally owned businesses such as XADS, the Flagship Enterprise Center, White River Paintball and Good’s Chocolate Shop, Kristin Dulaney said.
“You actually get to do and see how somebody took those ideas and put them into action,” she said. “You know that entrepreneurship isn’t just starting some corporate business. You can start any type of business that you want to.”
—Aleasha Sandley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.