Michael Morris is currently Professor of Practice at the McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business. He has spent his career helping entrepreneurs start businesses across the country and around the world. Now Morris has come to the University of Notre Dame and has started a new program: the South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program.
Morris said he started creating the program when he arrived in Notre Dame in August 2019 and that he ran it for the first time in February 2020.
“If [universities] If they want to do something new, they collect the money and then something new – which means they don’t do new things until they collect the money, ”explained Morris. “I just don’t believe in it.”
Morris said his quickness to start the program was based on his experience working with communities facing adversity. He said he knew he had to show South Bend that he would keep his promises in order to build their trust in him.
Students from the South Bend Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program will take part in the program’s six-week bootcamp in 2021.
Morris said his program begins in February each year and trains 60 to 70 students. It includes a year-long business training program that begins with a six-week intensive boot camp to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with all of the skills they need to be successful.
Morris said his students come into the program with many different levels of business experience, and the six-week intensive training program helps bring everyone to the same level of knowledge.
“The training is to put them all on one page. It’s six Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. [a.m.] You will be introduced to tools and concepts and practical approaches from 11-12, ”said Morris. “Then we have 12 to 1 [when] We bring in experts. “
The subject matter experts, Morris said, are one way to use Notre Dame’s position in the community to help these entrepreneurs facing adversity.
After the Business Bootcamp, participants receive personal support from similarly successful South Bend companies and student advisory services. They also have access to community connection events and microcredit institutions – little to no interest credit for starting their business.
Morris said his program is based solely on entrepreneurial results and progress.
“If we do this program and people have an interesting experience, or have learned some things, or they find it fascinating, we have failed. The only thing that matters is that companies get started and those companies become sustainable, ”he said. “Our goal is to make these companies sustainable, and that’s how we’re pursuing them [entrepreneur journey]. Our whole philosophy is that if we can help you take 10 steps, you will take 15 steps – that progress creates progress. “
2021 South Bend Entrepreneurship Program students complete the six-week bootcamp. Professor Michael Morris is pictured in the center back.
A student’s point of view
Student advisors are an integral part of the program. Rachel Gagnon, who is pursuing a Master of Global Affairs at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, was one of these students.
Gagnon said she originally attended the class because she was excited about the new opportunities it would bring.
“[The class] gave me the opportunity to work with students from all over the university and then with the professor from a different program than me, ”said Gagnon. “I hadn’t lived [in South Bend] Before starting my Masters degree, I thought it would be a really fun opportunity to get to know the local area and give something back to the community. “
During the program, Gagnon was partnered with two companies, Green Earth Bike Rental and a beauty company. Gagnon said she met with a partner with these companies once a week and could create a personalized business plan and liaise with the owners.
“It’s really flexible in what you do to the client, which I think is such a strength of the class that it’s tailored so around the client’s needs,” said Gagnon.
Gagnon said she felt really lucky for the opportunity and all the skills she gained from it.
“I was very fortunate to be able to work one-on-one and be able to deal with the company intensively,” said Gagnon. “Being curious and learning how to gain skills at a given moment and be truly adaptable – these are things that I think I will bring to my future work.”
Entrepreneur Cory Pringle went through Morris’ program in his inaugural year. Pringle owns three video media companies including Faith Hustle Media Group, a music video production company, and Down the Aisle Media, a wedding videography company.
Prior to joining the program, Pringle said he had already started his businesses but didn’t know much about the business basics he would need to grow sustainably.
“My background was basically music video making, so I was really hungry to just want to know more about the business,” he said.
Pringle said the most important things he took away from the intense boot camp was a knowledge of business terminology and how to market and promote his companies.
“Before taking the course, I had the wrong idea about what marketing was [and] There was advertising, so the course gave me the right perspective to follow them, ”explained Pringle.
Now, Pringle said the marketing skills he learned helped him “get leads” and “convert them into sales”.
Pringle said another valuable product from the program was the mentoring and advice that taught him how to run his business.
“I had a kind of videographer mindset going through the course, and then when I connected with the mentor, I started getting into video production and business more,” said Pringle. “[The consultants] I had to think and put myself in the right mindset about how to start doing things in the backend. “
Pringle said he was grateful for the program because it gave him the knowledge he needed to take his business to the next level.
“I had the passion, I had the drive and the tenacity and so on, but things like that can only get you so far. At some point you have to get more knowledge, ”said Pringle. “If I have this information now and go through the course, I can capitalize on it.”
After going through the program, Pringle said he was more motivated to succeed and to make Morris and everyone involved in his journey proud.
“There were a handful of people who somehow played a role in me, and I can say that Professor Morris is definitely one of those people,” said Pringle. “I won’t let him down.”