ImagineU info session reveals rewarding, competitive entrepreneurship program

“The professional, working world will not treat you with kid gloves,” explained Mike Hoffmeyer, Director of the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship that hosts the ImagineU program. “I have confidence in each and every one of you to succeed if you are willing to do the work. You will get out of it what you put into it.”  Hoffmeyer informed and inspired students attending the ImagineU Information and Panel Discussion recently in the Bert Bornblum Library Auditorium at the Macon Cove Campus.

Mike Hoffmeyer discusses the imagineU program as Rory Thomas and Luiz Saucedo listen.

Mike Hoffmeyer discusses the ImagineU program as Rory Thomas and Luiz Saucedo listen.

ImagineU is an academic and community partnership that brings together seven local colleges and universities with three entrepreneurship support organizations that teach students “entrepreneurial skills, mindsets, and grit.”  The program focuses on student learning skills and how to use them in a professional environment.  Students are mentored and coached; but, ultimately build confidence and success from hard work.

Hoffmeyer said that students will receive a stipend while working the program as a summer job.  Recent Southwest graduate Luiz Saucedo who completed the 2018 ImagineU program explained that the benefits were significantly greater than the stipend. “I have learned to operate outside my comfort zone and I know I am capable of far more than I thought.”  With each success, Saucedo’s confidence grew.   As a result of this confidence Saucedo was able to pitch his business idea during a meeting of local business leaders. “They were interested in me.  They were impressed by my experiences and they all gave me their business cards.  They valued what I had learned from the program.”

Southwest Business Studies faculty Dr. Joan McGrory said, “This is a transformational opportunity for our students. They have the opportunity to start a business with the support of a mentor, a team, and receive a stipend. To me, this is the greatest summer job opportunity ever.”

In addition to the ImagineU program, all students and entrepreneurs have a wealth of resources and support available through the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC).  Later Rory Thomas, Executive Director of TSBDC, provided information about such resources as free one-on-one business counseling/networking meetings and free training on business startups and business planning, business tax preparedness, importing and exporting assets, and conducting bid proposals.  Thomas reminded the audience about the Spark The Dream: CEO/Entrepreneurship Series that connects successful business owners to college students who learn what it takes to launch a successful business venture and present information about their personal paths to success.  "Numerous studies show college students would like to start a business one day. One of the biggest barriers for students is not knowing where to go for help. TSBDC and ImagineU are examples of resources students can use to get started with their entrepreneurial endeavors.”

Mike Hoffmeyer, Luiz Saucedo and Rory Thomas

Mike Hoffmeyer, Luiz Saucedo and Rory Thomas

Rory Thomas presents the benefits of TSBDC

Rory Thomas presents the benefits of TSBDC.