8:18 a.m., Oct. 12, 2010----Student entrepreneurs at the University of Delaware now have a new and improved resource in the recently relocated Venture Development Center (VDC). Formerly housed in Purnell Hall, the new center at 196 S. College Ave. boasts enlarged and more flexible space for student businesses in a more central location.
Scott Jones, professor of accounting and entrepreneurial studies and director of the VDC, said the new location also has the potential to accommodate faculty startup businesses in the future.
Bobby Gempesaw, dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, which houses the VDC, said the move provides opportunities for students to enhance their entrepreneurial creativity.
“We want to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship on campus,” said Gempesaw. “By offering students the necessary resources, the new VDC will help student businesses move forward with their plans.”
According to Sarah Klapprodt, marketing manager for the VDC, the benefits of the move are many.
“The center has been converted to a truly entrepreneurial space that plays host not only to venture development, but also to the Entrepreneurship Club, the entrepreneurship speaker series and various annual events” she said. “The center has become a hub for all that is entrepreneurial at the University. Students now have a centralized location to partake in a wide range of activities as well as obtain professional and peer-to-peer mentoring.
Klapprodt said annual events originate from the center and "showcase the many facets of entrepreneurship to students on campus. For example, the Be Your Own Boss Festival, which was held for the first time last spring, features tenant companies of the VDC as well as certain registered student organizations that produce their own goods and services. The Business Plan Competition is another yearly event that allows students to develop and expand their business models to maturity."
Jones said the move itself is a sign of student entrepreneurial spirit at the University.
“The case for the move was actually made to the administration by the students,” said Jones. “Matt Racz and Ross Sylvester developed and presented the case last spring for an enlarged facility more central to campus.”
Racz, an operations management major and founder of Gotta B.Y.O.M., an organic healthy cookie company, said the new center will allow students to host workshops, seminars and luncheons with local entrepreneurs that otherwise could not have been hosted in the old facility.
“Because of the connection to the Entrepreneurial Studies program, we can now focus on bringing together student-entrepreneurs from every school within the University and truly have a place we can call our own,” said Racz. “It is the VDC's goal to bring together students who have a passion for starting a business, no matter what degree they are pursuing.
Sylvester, the founder of College Taxi and president of the Entrepreneurship Club, has been a tenant of the VDC for two years. He feels the benefit of the VDC relocation will be collaboration among student businesses.
“With the increase in space, we will be able to house a larger number of student entrepreneurs and as a result, we can increase the quality of each business,” said Sylvester.
“The space will become a learning environment for students who are interested in starting their own businesses but may not have prior experience or are looking to expand their network in the student community and professional arena.”
According to Racz and Sylvester, future goals for the VDC include generating an increase in student interest and support; being able to offer legal and financial assistant to student businesses; and formulating student marketing consulting companies that will help student businesses publicize themselves more effectively.
Article by Kathryn A. Marrone
Photo courtesy of Keith Modzelewski