The Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, at the University of Illinois, proudly sponsored the events held during National Entrepreneurship week, February 24 through March 3, 2007. Eweek offered a tremendous opportunity to engage and encourage over nine-hundred participants on campus and in our community, who are the next generation of entrepreneurs. On a national level, Eweek was sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, Inc. Magazine, and the New York Times. Universities and businesses across the country took the week to host entrepreneurship competitions, workshops, and lectures to ignite the nation’s consciousness about the importance of being entrepreneurial.
Eweek festivities began on the Illinois campus, with an arts organization workshop featuring world renowned arts management consultant Jerry Yoshitomi, which was co-sponsored by 40 North. The workshop was geared towards artistic Champaign/Urbana community members, and covered techniques that help create successful management of galleries, museums, and artistic stores. Yoshitomi explored marketing strategies that encourage patrons to make repeat donations and purchases, technologies that help expand memberships and donor income, as well as barriers that discourage donor participation.
The Academy also held several events for students during Eweek, including the innovative IdeaBounce Competition, which gave students the opportunity to submit entrepreneurial ideas and pitch them to a panel of judges.
Several University of Illinois student organizations also took part in Eweek. The Academy funded $100 for each organization that brought in an entrepreneurial guest speaker or alumnus, held a panel discussion, or contributed to social entrepreneurship causes in the community.
The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts graciously hosted a wonderful evening of arts and entrepreneurship, titled Krannert Uncorked and Entrepreneurial. Faculty, students, staff, and community members could relax to music and wine tasting in the Krannert lobby. The highlight of the evening focused on entrepreneurship education, and featured entrepreneurial videos on the Krannert plasma screens, which were designed by students in the Illinois Multimedia Visual Journalism for a Global Audience course. Additionally, innovative entrepreneurship posters designed by the Introduction to ImageMaking course lined the Krannert lobby walls for people to admire and discuss.
Academy staff members Tony Mendes and Kimberly Sugden also spread entrepreneurial thinking through presentations to high school students in the Downers Grove (Chicago suburb) and Champaign school districts. Presentations highlighted traits of famous entrepreneurs such as Sir. Richard Branson, Dave Thomas and Jay-Z. Students were introduced to the entrepreneurial mindset tool to determine if strong entrepreneurial traits could be found in them, and they were educated on the resources available to young entrepreneurs so that they too could develop successful companies.
Other highlights of the week included a faculty simulation training workshop, an entrepreneurial creativity lecture, the faculty fellows luncheon, the Innovation Celebration dinner, and the Cozad Business Plan workshops.
Executive Director, Tony Mendes said of the festivities, “Entrepreneurship Week was an exciting testimony to, and celebration of the growing entrepreneurial spirit in our community. With close to one-thousand participants this year, we are only looking to grow in size and witness greater involvement and overall social impact next year.”
The Academy would like to thank its Eweek sponsors, The Daily Illini, The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 40 North, the Downers Grove and Champaign High Schools, the Vice Chancellor for Research, and the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. Together we have inspired many new entrepreneurs to reach for their goals and turn their creative dreams into a reality.