First Entrepreneurship Village Allows Students, Alumni to Network with Peers

Belmont senior Tom Haarlander is paving his road to success through three entrepreneurship ventures that provide medical supplies, manufacture them in China and import the products into Europe and the United States.  Although he expects to gross nearly $6 million between his three companies this year, the University gave him an unprecedented opportunity Wednesday to practice his pitch before venturing to trade shows to promote teeth-whitening cold wave lasers, anti-aging facial probes and medical optical lamps.

“[The Center for Entrepreneurship] brings stability to what you are doing. I can put my foot to the gas and run all over, but if I don’t have a solid foundation, it will fall apart,” Haarlander said.

Forty-two businesses participated in Belmont’s first-ever Entrepreneurship Village held Wednesday morning under white tents surrounding the Bell Tower. Thirteen alumni returned to Belmont for the village, including Erin O. Anderson, owner of artist management company Olivia Management.

“The best thing [about the village] is getting to know students at Belmont and getting to encourage them,” said Anderson (’06). “I tell them, ‘You may not be sure what you want to do, but you can do it on your own.’ It’s been fun to encourage students to start their own businesses.”

The village featured companies of various industries including smart phone applications, graphic design, videography, photography, music publishing, construction, vintage jewelry, custom apparel printing and textbooks. The purpose of the event was to display the innovation, creativity and success of Belmont’s entrepreneurship students and alumni.

“We wanted to provide an experience for our students and alums to showcase their businesses.  The event turned into much more; not only did the students get to share their ideas, but the campus and community saw tangible evidence of what the students are learning in the classroom,” said Center for Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator Lisa Davis. “The response we have gotten from everyone involved and from those who visited the event has been very positive.  We plan to add this event to our annual roster of student and alum opportunities.”

Among the entrepreneurs were businesses in the idea phase, early start-up phase and revenue generating phase. They shared their business ideas and experiences with each other, students and professors. Alumni Ben Cooper and Gordon Kennedy performed as students, faculty and staff mingled between tents.

“Not only is it great for me to get to network, but I also get to see other students’ passion and how many of them apply to my business,” said Tim Weber, a senior from Delaware. He founded Good Music All Day, a website focused on downloading legally-free music in a variety of genres. “And this is the first face-to-face interaction with customers for me; I can look fans in the eye and convince them what my brand is about.”

Entrepreneurship has the highest enrollment of any undergraduate major in the College of Business Administration, with 160 majors and minors in the program this academic year.

The Center for Entrepreneurship received several accolades this month. Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers gave the center its Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation. Also, education services company The Princeton Review named the University No. 19 on its list of “Top Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship Programs.”

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About Belmont University

Ranked No. 5 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the seventh consecutive year as one of the top “Up-and-Comer” universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of approximately 7,300 students who come from every state and more than 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The University’s purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world’s needs, With more than 80 areas of undergraduate study, 22 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon.

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