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Belmont Hosts Third Annual Entrepreneurship Village, Welcomes Student- Alumni-Led Businesses

IMG_39678Belmont seniors Margot Lied and Joelyn Young are passionate about spreading words of encouragement through hand lettered creations and together have built M + J Creative, an organization that creates and sells print products and coordinates and organizes special events.

Lied, a senior public relations major, is the mastermind behind M + J’s creativity, while Young, a senior corporate communications major, handles all things business and communication. The duo met at Belmont and said they recently launched the venture after realizing their shared passion and the market for encouraging words. “We love simple, clean, lovely things,” Lied said. “There’s such a cool outlet through print to have encouraging messages…and we have fun and uplifting things to share.”

M+ J set up shop on campus Wednesday to be a part of The Entrepreneurship Village, a grouping of white tents set up in the amphitheater surrounding Belmont’s infamous Bell Tower to showcase 29 business owned by students and alumni representing all stages of business development. Dedicated to representing the innovation, creativity and success of Belmont’s entrepreneurship students and alumni, business in all phases of the business cycle participated.

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Belmont Alumni Create The Escape Game, Challenge Nashville to Adventure

escape game-110Belmont alumni Jonathan and Moriah Murrell have launched The Escape Game Nashville, an entertainment concept that challenges participants to use a series of clues and escape from one of four predesigned rooms in less than 60 minutes.

The first of its kind in this region, The Escape Game was inspired after the concept began to take flight in a number of countries. Seeing only the online version locally, Moriah said she and Jonathan, with three other partners, decided to bring the concept to Nashville. Since the pair met in undergrad at Belmont and both studied business and entrepreneurship, they had experience launching and working on start-ups together.

The concept has been a hit with community members of all ages, with many Nashvillians and tourists coming through the door since The Escape Game opened in May 2014. Recently rated as the No. 1 thing to do in Nashville on TripAdvisor, Moriah said she is very proud of the game’s success and is happy to be working on the project with her husband, especially since the creation of a start-up can be so time consuming.

escape game-106She said the greatest thing she has learned since the game’s start would be something that mentor and Belmont entrepreneurship professor Jeff Cornwall has said many times. For a start-up to be successful, “it takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.” Moriah says that couldn’t be more true for The Escape Game Nashville. The couple luckily stumbled upon the idea, but the road since then has been a lot of hard work for the duo and the rest of their team.

When asked for a piece of advice, Moriah said it all comes down to teamwork. “If you ask anyone that’s played, they will say yes – that is true. Work together as a team, and you’ll have a great time.”

For more information or to plan your escape, click here.

Belmont, Downey Win Next Entrepreneurship Awards

JMK_1884c (3)Belmont University made a big impact in last night’s Next Awards, which recognizes innovation in business and entrepreneurship in Middle Tennessee. The competition, which rewards both individuals and companies and is built around the concept of “what’s NEXT in the entrepreneurial landscape of Nashville and Middle Tennessee,” is run by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.

Three Belmont students—Tim Downey (Picd.us), Ben McIntyre (Internpreneur) and Channing Moreland (What’s Hubbin)—were named in September as the top finalists in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year field with Downey taking home last night’s trophy.

Downey’s business, Picd.us, was started with co-founder and fellow Belmont student Geoffrey Gross in July 2014 around the idea to incentivize a company’s customers to post brand-related content to their social media accounts. This in-turn will broaden the company’s digital market reach. Downey and Gross have been busy with launching their website, starting the patent process, working on web design and product mockups as well as pitching their ideas to potential investors.

Downey said,To have this award from Nashville is an incredible form of validation that my work is really making an impact… Belmont assisted me in my success through the incredible entrepreneurship professors. The time and attention that every Belmont entrepreneurship professor has shown me is unreal. This award is going to benefit my future just by continuing to push what I expect from myself.  I honestly did not think I was going to get it, because the work Ben McIntyre and Channing Moreland have done is absolutely incredible, and I look up to both of them so much.

Junior Moreland was nominated for her work with fellow Belmont students Makenzie Stokel and Seth Clarke to expand the success of their startup What’s Hubbin,’ a company founded to help Nashvillians navigate through the local music scene. The trio also were the winners of the 2014 Belmont Student Business Plan Competition hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Launched last year, What’s Hubbin’ has more than 3,000 users in the Nashville area including students, area residents and tourists. Users can view a calendar of shows at various stages and explore short profiles of all the local venues and local artists, tailoring their user profile to their own musical preferences.

Entrepreneurship major Ben McIntyre, who was also chosen to compete in the National Entrepreneurship Organization’s (EO) Global Student Entrepreneur Award competition, was named a finalist for his business, Internpreneur, a company which partners with employers to create “high-impact internship programs where businesses get real projects done and students get the experience and hands on learning they need to move into full-time employment after graduation.”

The young entrepreneurs were scored by a panel of judges who graded candidates on their entrepreneurial spirit, their product/service and their company’s ability to create jobs and add value for stakeholders.

Companies and organizations, meanwhile, were judged across five industry categories: digital media/entertainment, health care, social enterprise/sustainability, technology and products/services. Corporate eligibility was measured by each stage of growth regardless of industry with the categories titled Startup, Growth and Market Mover. Belmont University won the Market Mover field in the social enterprise/sustainability category.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher, who was on hand to accept the University’s award, wrote in the University’s Next application, “While many higher education institutions focus on career training and personal success, Belmont seeks to offer a truly transformational education. The university aims to develop individuals holistically—intellectually, spiritually, socially and physically—and to empower students to develop their gifts so that they can engage and transform the world. These efforts attract the best and brightest students from every state and 25 countries. With a focus on efficiency and cost control, Belmont carefully manages resources and diligently analyzes the budgeting process to ensure fiscal strength. As a nonprofit institution, our priority is on serving our students well.”

To learn more, visit www.nextawardsnashville.com.

For a audio recap by Belmont alumnus and Online Events Manager at Nashville’s TechnologyAdvice, Clark Buckner, see below.

Belmont Students Continue Success of Startup

Left to right: Stokel, Clarke and Moreland.

Left to right: Stokel, Clarke and Moreland.

Belmont juniors Channing Moreland, Makenzie Stokel and Seth Clarke continue to expand the success of their startup What’s Hubbin,’ a company founded to help Nashvillians navigate through the local music scene, through local and national recognition. Moreland, Stokel and Clarke were the winners of the 2014 Belmont University Student Business Plan Competition hosted by the Belmont Center for Entrepreneurship.

WhatsHubbin.com was launched last year and has more than 3,000 users in the Nashville area including students, area residents and tourists. Users can view a calendar of shows at various stages and explore short profiles of all the local venues and local artists, tailoring their user profile to their own musical preferences.

Earlier this week, co-founder Moreland was selected to participate in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneurship Award pitch competition in Miami, Fla. on behalf of What’s Hubbin’. In addition, What’s Hubbin’ was one of 10 companies chosen to participate in the second annual Sparks pitch competition hosted by SouthernAlpha last month. This competition drew established entrepreneurs including Marci Harris from PopVox in Redwood City, Calif., and Sanjay Parekh, a founder of Startup Riot in Atlanta, to judge the competition.

Moreland is also a finalist for the 2014 NEXT Awards’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for her work with What’s Hubbin’. Presented by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the NEXT Awards recognize entrepreneurial-minded companies in Middle Tennessee, as well as the entrepreneurs who make a significant impact on our local economy, helping to make Nashville one of the best cities in the U.S. to start a business.

Moreland credits the Belmont entrepreneurship program with much of the company’s success.

“Belmont has provided so many opportunities that we may not have had otherwise,” she said. “After we were accepted into the Student Business Accelerator program, we were introduced to the Entrepreneurship Village which introduced us to all of these pitch and business plan competitions.”

Moreland continued that their professors have continued to provide advice and support on the company’s future endeavors. The company is currently working on redesigning the website and creating a mobile app before expanding to other cities.

Buzzy’s Returns to Belmont’s BLVD Storefront

Candy-2Belmont’s Center for Entrepreneurship and sweets lovers are celebrating the return of rock candy, chocolates, wax bottles and jelly beans to Belmont Boulevard as student-operated Buzzy’s returned to its original home this month where it opened four years earlier.

The candy shop relocated two doors down to a bigger suite in the storefront that is now McAlister’s Deli before a foiled contract with a national yogurt company forced the student-run business to close its doors.

Along with Feedback Clothing Co., BLVD Music Shop and Buzzy’s operate in the Curb Event Center space that has been set aside by Belmont University to give students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in operating a small business. (more…)

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