Montana State University

MSU business students raise more than $5,500 for local non-profits

November 17, 2015 -- Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

MSU students enrolled in an entrepreneurship class in the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship recently presented a check for more than $2,800 to representatives from the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. The funds will be used to install a bench at the newly expanded Bozeman Pond Park and to provide funding for the development of the park, including a playground and trails. Photo courtesy of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

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Teams of Montana State University business students turned $25 into more than $5,500 in just three weeks, and the students then donated those funds to three local non-profit organizations.

The students were participating in the “Entreprentice Challenge,” part of an upper-division class on entrepreneurship in the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. As part of the course – which is taught by management professor Brent Rosso – student teams were given $25 in start-up capital and asked to launch real businesses that were as profitable and impactful as possible in just three weeks. Rosso challenged the students to act entrepreneurially and grow those funds for local causes.

The student teams launched a variety of creative ventures, including a homemade bike taxi, a mobile photography service and a dog walking service, among others. Other teams manufactured and sold products like metal bottle openers, apparel, furniture, stickers and jewelry. Some of the ventures continued on as real businesses even after the class project had concluded.

Steel Anderson, a member of the student team that created metal bottle openers to manufacture and sell, said the team’s biggest challenge was the short time period.

“It was a race against the clock to make a profitable venture happen in only a couple weeks’ time,” Anderson said. “At the same time, it was a very rewarding moment when we realized just how much money we had made under the time constraint. Thanks to our creative financing strategies, we were able to sell nearly $1,500 worth of product before we had to shell out any cash for manufacturing.”

Anderson added that there were a few obstacles along the way, but the team “improvised and kept forging ahead, keeping our eye on the end goal."

By the end of the designated three weeks, the student teams had raised a combined total of $5,525 in profit – a record amount since Rosso created the Entreprentice Challenge at MSU five years ago. Contributions from the Entreprentice Challenge to local non-profits over the last five years now totals more than $20,000.

This year, the student groups chose to donate the funds to three local organizations: Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Family Promise of Gallatin Valley and the Community Café.

Gallatin Valley Land Trust received a donation of more than $2,800 from the challenge. The funds will be used to install a bench at the newly expanded Bozeman Pond Park and to provide funding for the development of the park, including a playground and trails, according to Kelly Pohl, associate director of the land trust. Pohl added that the class’s name and year will be engraved on the bench.

“We are so grateful to receive the funds from the Entreprentice Challenge,” Pohl said. “We were inspired by the creativity and vision of (the students’) start-up businesses. The funds they raised will have an impact right here in our community by helping GVLT develop the newly expanded Bozeman Pond Park. We’re excited to have these future entrepreneurs in our community, making this a better place to live.”

Rosso noted that the goal of the project is for students to experience the full entrepreneurial journey.

“They demonstrated a lot of ingenuity and resourcefulness, and I think they surprised themselves with how much they could accomplish with so little,” Rosso said. “It was really meaningful for all of us to see how doing well and ‘doing good’ can go hand-in-hand.”

Contact: Brent Rosso, MSU Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, (406) 994-7516 or brent.rosso@montana.edu