Program connects entrepreneurs to alumni funding
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 03:02
After becoming the first school to utilize the online entrepreneurial platform USEED last semester, the university will launch a new website for the program to showcase student projects and encourage investment on March 5.
UDSEED is the university-tailored version of the USEED program, which helps connect student entrepreneurs with specific projects to alumni looking to offer financial support.
Daniel Freeman, faculty director of entrepreneurial studies, said the program aims to break down the boundaries of the traditional classroom by allowing alumni, other faculty, staff and friends of the university to become involved with student projects.
Matthew Racz, co-founder and chief operating officer of USEED and a university alumnus, said UDSEED is the product of the university's partnership with his company.
"Our mission is to change the way students are educated in universities," Racz said. "We're hoping that our platform allows students to gain the skills, gain the networking and the money to create their own jobs when they graduate."
Freeman said he expects programs like USEED to become common in college environments.
"Crowd engagement at universities is inevitable, it'll happen over the next five to ten years," Freeman said. "It's just we're actually going to be out on the front of the curve."
He also said that while the program is sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Studies department, student from any major can participate.
Senior Alyssa Kuchta said she has utilized the program to develop her jewelry company, eff.Y.bee.
"What [UDSEED offers] for student entrepreneurs has never been offered before," Kuchta said. "The fact that I could possibly get funding and network with alumni investors and reach out to a wider network just through doing this is incredible."
She said the program allows student entrepreneurs to pursue their passions and will make achieving her goals more realistic.
"This is enabling me to see my dream come true, literally," she said.
Kuchta said she learned about UDSEED in an advertising class taught by communication instructor Carolyn Bartoo, who said students in her course are required to work with the program.
Bartoo's students will create an ad campaign for Kuchta's business to be launched on the UDSEED website. She said she believes the hands-on learning experience will help students retain the information better than the typical textbook and scantron approach.
"My goal for the class is to present them with a totally exciting and scary opportunity that will shock them into pushing themselves more than they ever have before," Bartoo said. "Instead of imagining it, we're doing it."