OSU-Tulsa Offers Entrepreneurship Boot Camp

Local entrepreneurs embark on a six-week-long, intensive boot camp designed to help them jump-start their start-ups.
The 2009 Cowboy Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs is the first of what will be an annual event presented by Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business department of entrepreneurship and Riata Center for Entrepreneurship.
Both programs began this year at the university, thanks to a large endowment from N. Malone Mitchell, which was matched by T. Boone Pickens. The endowment funded the creation of both an academic department and community outreach center aimed at fostering and educating entrepreneurial ventures.
Spearheading the programs are Michael Morris, professor and N. Malone Mitchell Chair in Entrepreneurship, and Nola Miyasaki, director of the Riata Center. Both came from Syracuse University, where they ran similar programs and a similar boot camp.
The academic department offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, an undergraduate minor and an MBA concentration in entrepreneurship.
In its first semester, the program has attracted 425 students who are taking the 28 entrepreneurship courses, as well as 20 entrepreneurship majors.
The Riata Center provides both experiential learning for entrepreneurship students and community outreach for area entrepreneurs.
The boot camp runs for six consecutive Saturdays on the OSU-Tulsa campus, 700 N. Greenwood Ave., and offers intensive, hands-on education for entrepreneurs who are within five years of starting their start-ups. Course work includes classes on creative thinking; entrepreneurial ideas; characteristics, skills and behaviors of entrepreneurs; business economics; instruction in writing a good business plan; understanding customers; intellectual property and related legal concerns; and various business fundamentals, such as staffing, franchising, organization and operation.
University faculty and successful entrepreneurs will teach the classes, which go from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Following regularly scheduled classes will be optional free consulting sessions offered by MBA students.
Morris said that, in teaching entrepreneurship to both OSU students and the community at large, the question is, “What do you teach?”
“Teaching the mechanics of starting a small business is pretty easy,” Morris said. “That’s really not the focus. What we’re trying to teach is to help people think and act in entrepreneurial ways.”
The approach is based on teaching 11 core competencies that “underlie the ability to be successful at entrepreneurship.”
“Getting better at understanding what an opportunity is, where they come from, how to evaluate them — that’s the essence of what our whole teaching approach is based on,” said Morris. “How do you teach students to manage risk? How do you teach students to think and act in guerrilla ways? That is the focus of the program.”
The program costs entrepreneurs $650, which Morris says is a steal because it costs the university between $1,500 and $2,000 per delegate to host it. Partial scholarships are awarded to entrepreneurs who exhibit financial need.
Two of those scholarships were given to The Collaboratorium, a start-up entrepreneurial incubator at 111 W. Fifth St., for distribution to two of its tenants. Those went to Enchanted Grove Films and Hollywood Fitness Repair, said Sean Griffin, chair of The Collaboratorium.
“With (Enchanted Grove Films) in particular, (representative Starr Hardgrove is) an artist and highly creative person who has less business experience than he does creative experience,” Griffin. “He, in particular, has potential to gain knowledge in how to operate his business from a business standpoint. (Hollywood Fitness Repair) is at a critical juncture. They’re starting to see significant growth in their business, and they need the knowledge and tools to maximize their business plan.”
Also awarded a scholarship to attend the boot camp was Ren Barger, director of Tulsa Hub, a nonprofit that donates bicycles to children and adults in need of transportation.
Morris said the bootcamp’s ultimate goal is to “make a meaningful investment in the state.”
“We want to see start-up activity double in the state,” he said. “Most importantly, we want to see start-up ventures that stay in Oklahoma and grow.” ?

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?