Pioneering Entrepreneurship Program at Ball State Provides Alumni


Ball State University’s Entrepreneurship Center has hosted another successful E-Day, or Evaluation Day, where high-level students have the opportunity to present their risk plans to an external board of business leaders.

Of the nine students who recently defended their plans, all nine received passed grades, adding to more than 35 years of distinguished program graduates. As one of the first entrepreneurship programs in the country, the Entrepreneurship major at Ball State has a high focus on experiential learning, the involvement of professional mentors, and the importance of building and maintaining networks.

The Entrepreneurship Center has recognized outstanding new venture plans since 1987. These prestigious awards are given by E-Day panelists and recognize students who have an exceptional business plan and well-designed presentation. Thanks to a generous gift, the Ronald A. Minichillo Entrepreneurship Venture Development Award was launched in 1999, which awards the winners with a cash prize.

“One of the best things about our program is the freedom our students have to pursue new venture concepts that they are passionate about,” said Krystal Geyer, associate director of Ball State’s Entrepreneurship Center. “It’s incredibly inspiring – and fun – to watch our students bring in early ideas through the customer validation, feasibility, and financial return stages to create thorough, well-written business plans.”

This year’s evaluators nominated Alyxandra Ledford for the Outstanding New Venture Plan Award. Ledford’s business company is Manatee Key, an intimate all-inclusive island with a wedding / honeymoon focus.

Ledford, a junior from Greenfield, Indiana, will stay at Ball State, where she has an emphasis in business management and an emphasis in hospitality and food management. After graduating next year, Ledford hopes to work for an event planner and take steps to make Manatee Key a reality.

“Writing a business plan from scratch was the perfect way to showcase everything I learned in college and further expand my knowledge,” said Ledford. “The plans my classmates and I made are the result of hundreds of hours of work and feedback from mentors, professors, and counselors.”

Of the nine students defending their business plans this year, concepts included Mikey Brewer’s sustainable caviar harvest, Gwenyth Baer’s nonprofit performing arts academy, Dustin Flynn’s 180-degree firearms training ground, and an adrenaline-fueled racing experience from Brad Six tone.

This year’s graduates also include Michael Demski with his alternative funeral service Reflect; David Ryerson, who hopes to provide UVC lighting disinfection services to assisted living facilities and medical offices; Chloe Harman, founder of a subscription boxing service that helps users reduce their environmental footprint; and Carter Anderson, whose concept, FamLeo, aims to help men struggling with pornography addiction.

For more information on Ball State University’s Entrepreneurship Center or to participate in the program, please visit or email [email protected].