Young entrepreneurs attended a showcase and panel at the Alumni Center on Friday, Feb. 9 to learn from the best about how to be successful and innovative. The showcase allowed students to see how the university helps entrepreneurs in across all fields through a variety of different businesses started by USC alumni.
“Traditionally, business students have gravitated to entrepreneurship, but what we’re seeing more and more is students from all different schools and colleges have really great career paths in the area of entrepreneurship. We need to make that accessible to them while they’re still at the university,” said Dirk Brown, faculty director of the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise.
The McNair Entrepreneurship Showcase is both a culmination of all of the hard work of the alumni and a starting point for current students. The myriad unique ideas transformed into businesses gives students motivation to transform their own ideas into business endeavors.
“I’m always inspired to see what the students are doing as it relates to entrepreneurship,” Brown said. “There's so many creative ideas that students are coming up with, and they just need a little bit of energy and support from us at the university to really realize some amazing new businesses that they could launch.”
One of the entrepreneurs showing off his business was Parker Moore, a 2016 graduate of Darla Moore School of Business. He credits the success of his company, Tux on Trux, to the university giving him the confidence to promote himself.
“This whole thing started here at Carolina so just to be invited back to the McNair Institute and to present our company here today is big," Moore said. “I had a professor here … who encouraged us to really get out there and pitch at entrepreneurship competitions.”
Another entrepreneur showcasing her business was Ashlye Wilkerson, owner of the Columbia location of Wine & Design. USC has given Wilkerson new ways to promote her business, particularly with university organizations.
“The university has given me an opportunity to promote freely, to let people know about the fun activity that we provide as well as the opportunity to make memories,” Wilkerson said. “One of the favorite things that I like to do is working with the organizations because we do team building ... I’ve been able to have the help and support of the University of South Carolina assisting me.”
Regardless of current major and academic pursuits, those showcasing at the McNair Institute want students to leave knowing that they can be creative and start their own businesses with the help of the university.
“It’s so important for the students who are coming in. They are learning. They're able to get one-on-one time with entrepreneurs, they're able to ask us any questions that they may not get the opportunity to ask others," Wilkerson said. "They are able to kind of get a boost in energy as well as to be able to maybe jumpstart their own brand.”