Artist Davonta Beckham created a group of cartoonlike characters designed to inspire happiness and well-being.
The path toward making a career out of creating the characters came from a business analysis provided by an entrepreneurship class at Indiana Tech.
“Fort Wayne has really given me the wheels to roll,” said Beckham, 23, of Dayton, who earned a bachelor's degree in marketing at Indiana Tech. He is now pursuing his master's degree in business.
Aside from the academic studies, he also launched Art of Beckham and has begun work on a children's book featuring his characters. The book is part of the business plan developed by the students.
Encouraging people such as Beckham to start businesses, Fort Wayne universities take varied approaches to teaching entrepreneurship.
Focus: Students receive a theoretical foundation and applied experience through project-based learning. The four entrepreneurial studies courses can stand alone in earning a bachelor's degree in business administration, or students can add the courses to another major. Each course includes a project, such as analyzing a startup, or evaluating a project being considered by an existing business or organization.
Enrollment trend: About 150 students take entrepreneurial studies classes and interest is growing.
Community collaboration: Indiana Tech's Center for Creative Collaboration, or C3, works with local businesses to find projects for students to work on during classes. The C3 also teaches leadership development. In addition, the C3 works with Start Fort Wayne.
Indiana Wesleyan University
Focus: Students pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree in general studies can take online entrepreneurship classes where they learn theory, and use their knowledge to analyze case studies or examples from faculty members' experiences.
Enrollment trend: Interest has been consistent.
Community collaboration: The university works closely with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, which seeks to retain and enhance workforce talent in northeast Indiana. Indiana Wesleyan Fort Wayne's popular First Fridays, which takes place 8-9 a.m. on the first Friday of the month, offers free leadership training and networking opportunities with entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Purdue University Fort Wayne
Focus: Entrepreneurship classes balance theory and practice as students learn to be proactive, innovative and evaluate risk taking. Students also work on a project for an entrepreneurship competition that brings them in contact with venture capitalists.
Enrollment trend: Students in the arts, business, and engineering programs have strong interest in entrepreneurship classes. All 300 management majors at PFW must also take the basic entrepreneurship class
Community collaboration: The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, Start Fort Wayne and the Elevate Ventures entrepreneurship program work with students.
Ivy Tech Community College
Focus: The program emphasizes starting new businesses. Students pursuing an associate's degree in business can study entrepreneurship. Students and recent graduates who have a business idea can enter the school's New Venture Competition, which in 2019, will offer $20,000 in funding to the winner.
Enrollment trend: About 10 students pursue an entrepreneurship certificate, and many business students take entrepreneurship classes as electives.
Community collaboration: Representatives of SCORE Mentors Northeast Indiana, local businesses and community leaders serve as mentors for the New Venture Competition.
University of Saint Francis
Focus: Students learn entrepreneurial thinking by working on projects. The experiential learning may include community service-based projects or international travel. If a student wants to launch a business, faculty members work with him one-on-one.
Enrollment trend: Undergraduate enrollment in USF's business school grew by more than 11 percent over the past five years. About 200 students are taking classes through the school's online graduate degree program.
Community collaboration: USF works with the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, Start Fort Wayne, Elevate Ventures, SCORE Mentors Northeast Indiana and local entrepreneurs.
Last September, Huntington University celebrated its first graduating class of 13 students for its Master's in Business Administration degree. The graduate degree was launched in 2017 with support from Fort Wayne-based Ambassador Enterprises.
The university's MBA program features an experience and project-based approach to education. In addition to coursework, students are engaged in practical hands-on experience through local companies, nonprofit organizations, university ventures and Ambassador Enterprises.
In addition to its MBA program, Huntington University's Business Department offers an undergraduate degree in business with the opportunity to focus on various aspects of business including: Accounting, agricultural business, marketing, sports management, economics and finance, music business and entrepreneurial small business management.
Huntington University Ventures is part of the business department and was established to give students a place to learn, practice and hone their skills through working in its three student-staffed startup businesses.
The business department, with support from the Lilly Endowment, also helps qualified Indiana-based Huntington University students and alumni who are interested in launching their own ventures with startup funds through microloans of $3,000 to $5,000.
The business department also offers a Certificate in Entrepreneurship that is open to anyone who is interested in learning how to bring an idea to life.
The number of small businesses in the U.S. has increased by almost 50% over the past 20 years. Huntington University's business programs provide students with the opportunity to gain analytical, problem-solving and interpersonal skills through a curriculum that develops competence along with technical skills.