UMKC Bloch School's Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Presents Inaugural Class of Entrepreneurship Scholars
New Program Accelerates Formation and Launch of Globally Scalable Ventures

Kansas City, MO., May 3, 2011 -- On April 30 at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center hotel, the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) conferred certificates of graduation upon 32 students – the first class of students to complete the Institute’s new Entrepreneurship (E) Scholars program. 

The E Scholars Program is a campus-wide program designed to prepare promising student entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge needed to launch world-class scalable ventures upon graduation from the program. 

Students with an idea for a business or product may apply for the program. If accepted, they will participate in an intensive program in which they learn how to write their business plan, work closely with successful entrepreneurs and business people from the Kansas City community, and take classes with entrepreneurship faculty at the Bloch School, including two of the top innovation management scholars in the world. 

“The goal of the program,” notes Institute executive director Michael Song, “is to accelerate the formation of globally scalable ventures, creating significant impact with ventures that will have higher success rates - businesses that will, in the first year, make over $50k in revenue and more than $1 million in revenue in five years.

“These ventures are designed to address significant customer problems and market needs. Scholar candidates design business models that can be scaled or replicated across borders. This global reach can take many forms, including expansion, franchising, e-commerce, or licensing,” Song said.  

“From an education standpoint, the E Scholars program is revolutionary, setting a global standard for entrepreneurship education,” Song added.

Benny Lee, successful entrepreneur, president of Kansas City’s Asian Chamber of Commerce and a mentor-in-residence at the Institute, so firmly believes in the Institute’s programs (such as E Scholars and Venture Creation Challenge) he has invested real money in student ventures on the spot over the past two years, and made a surprise donation of $10,000 to the E Scholars program during the graduation ceremony.

“As an entrepreneur who has founded and sold companies, I find myself jealous of the education the Entrepreneurship Scholars get,” noted Lee.  “I wish there had been such an education program available to me before I started my entrepreneurial journey.

“I have invested real money in a couple of student companies, and the reason I invested in them is not just because they have great ideas, it’s because these are smart, quality people I want to partner with. They are young, innovative and assertive. Working with them gives me energy and keeps me young.”

Kristin Kenny, a UMKC law student and E Scholars graduate, is one of the founders of RE:cite, a productivity and collaboration tool that aids legal professionals users in effective organization of research material and automating citation, decreasing time spent on legal research and writing, saving attorneys an average of 500 billable hours per year. 

“I view my experience in IEI and the E Scholars program to be extremely educational and believe that it will be instrumental in my life, in entrepreneurial practice and in providing legal advice to entrepreneurs in a more timely, qualified and less expensive manner,” Kenny said.

“I also was able to connect to so many people by networking at the various events that were coordinated for participants that I'm sure will advance my career in both areas in the future. I have nothing but gratitude for all of the faculty, staff and mentors and their goals for the program and its participants.” 

According to Evan Stewart, retired CIO of B/E Aerospace and program mentor, “I'm an MBA graduate of UMKC so I know the value that comes from the school and have looked for ways to give back. Upon learning about the E-scholars program I decided it was a great opportunity to give some time and expertise to students with a passion for building a better community," Stewart said.  

“Mentorship is one of the key components to the program. Mentors offer the experience of starting, running and sustaining a business that comes only from doing it. They provide links to others in the world that can assist the scholar in being more successful. They provide personal advice when the scholar becomes impatient or frustrated with progress.” 

Stewart says the most rewarding thing for him was “seeing all of the scholars come out of the program with so much energy and hope. For anyone living through our tough economic times, spending a few hours with these students will change you and increase your velocity of hope.” 

Read Stewart’s blog post about the Bloch School’s E Scholars program here.

Enrollment for the 2012 class of E Scholars is already underway.

Click here for more information about the program, enrollment or becoming a mentor.

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