The EIU Entrepreneurship Club has been with Eastern for a little over 10 years and has since given students the opportunity to better understand entrepreneurship and corporate networking.
The EIU Entrepreneurship Club came to Eastern with the founding of the Entrepreneurship Minor, a program for students who want to work in a family business or run a small business.
Before the entrepreneurship minor was introduced at Eastern in the fall of 2010, Eastern did not have a program or RSO to help students develop the skills needed to start a business.
Evan Kubicek, EIU Entrepreneurship Club advisor and Marketing Instructor in the East, said the EIU Entrepreneurship Club was intentionally created around the same time as the Entrepreneurship minor.
“I believe the RSO was created at the same time as the minor to provide a community for students interested in entrepreneurship to come together,” said Kubicek.
Through EIU Entrepeneurship’s activities and events, members learn how to develop their skills and gain confidence in entrepreneurship.
Holly J. Olson, Junior Business Management Student, is the secretary of the EIU Entrepreneurship Club. She said that through the EIU Entrepreneurship Club, members of the organization can learn what it is to be an entrepreneur by sharing ideas at club meetings.
“We all bring different business ideas and we exchange ideas and get feedback,” she said. “It’s really valuable because you have like-minded entrepreneurs in the room as well as an entrepreneurship professor who is our RSO advisor.”
The EIU Entrepreneurship Club also learned about entrepreneurship from experts by bringing keynote speakers to Eastern and visiting small businesses in the area.
Over the past several years, the organization has spoken to business owners at a Charleston bar, Chicago brewery, recording studio, and many other corporate-based businesses.
“We went to a number of companies and asked them basic questions,” said Olson. “Why they wanted to start the kind of business they run. What gave them the inspiration for it. What were some of the challenges and hardships they encountered in opening a business and what did they learn from them? ”
They also learn more about entrepreneurship by working together on group projects like selling ugly Christmas sweaters to the eastern community.
The project they worked on last year was to jointly promote an app they had developed called “Spike Shot”.
Spike Shot is a mobile game designed to tackle the issue of human trafficking by helping to fund anti-trafficking organizations like an organization called All Things Possible.
“Spike Shot” came about because Kubicek wanted to learn how to develop an app, and he worked on it many months before the fall semester 2020. After the app was launched, he presented it to the EIU Entrepreneurship Club as a potential group project.
“I thought it was there. Why are we as RSO not having fun with it? “Said Kubicek. “I got to the point [executive board] from the RSO and said what do you guys think? Do you want to do that this semester? They thought it was a great idea. They jumped on board immediately. We just left there because the app has already been built. At that point we just had to promote it. ”
The EIU Entrepreneurship Club worked together to promote the app by conducting radio interviews, receiving celebrities, and working closely with the faculty here on the east coast and other universities, among other things.
The organization divided the work, each having their own role and then meeting to discuss as needed.
“We had some working to get the word out and we had others watching the app and seeing where we were with engagement,” said Olson.
In this COVID era, it proved difficult for the EIU Entreperneurship Club to work on something as ambitious as promoting a mobile game. The organization had to find new ways to communicate and hold meetings.
For the past few years, the EIU Entrepreneurship Club has held meetings every other Monday evening at Lumpkin Hall to share ideas, work on group projects, and plan visits to local businesses.
COVID has changed this, making it more difficult for the company to meet face-to-face or schedule face-to-face visits to companies. Now the EIU Entrepreneurship Club communicates online via Microsoft teams and mainly uses the SMS function on the platform.
If necessary, the organization will meet once or twice a month via the video conference function in Microsoft Teams. However, there are currently no special meeting times.
They also didn’t host their usual annual events and instead focused on “Spike Shot” because promoting the app was so important to them.
Due to the hard work of the group over the past school year, they were able to successfully promote the app and even hold four television interviews, which helped the organization a lot.
“There was a noticeable bump when there was one [television] Interview, ”said Kubicek. “The downloads and the people who play the app would increase noticeably.”
Kubicek said Spike Shot was a great learning experience for everyone involved in promoting the mobile game.
The EIU Entrepreneurship Club has a lot of plans and ideas to look forward to in the future, but for now they are focused on recruiting new members.
“Whether or not you are in the business or entrepreneurship department, we welcome everyone who joins us,” said Olson. “We are always very happy to hear and work on new ideas.”
Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]