From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice
Faculty Feature: Ms. Debbie Inman & the Entrepreneurship Program
Ms. Debbie Inman plays several important roles at Tech, but none more important than being Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Studies. I was most fortunate to work with Debbie through the Center for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (CEnIT) which was formed by the College of Business and the College of Engineering and Science when I was Dean. Debbie is dedicated to collaborating with individuals across campus and the community to encourage entrepreneurial thinking to move innovative ideas forward. Debbie initiated the TOP DAWG Idea Pitch and New Venture Championship events. Students enter the Idea Pitch each fall to showcase their pitch concepts for new products or services. This is a fun event that inspires students to act on their ideas and take them to the next level. Judges evaluate and score each pitch and the student body votes with Bulldog Bucks which gives “customer feedback” to students about their concepts. The TOP DAWG New Venture Championship held each spring is the next step in the entrepreneurial process for students following the Idea Pitch. Cross-functional teams are formed to further develop startup ideas and compete for prize money and work space in Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Center. In 2010, to respond to rapid changes in the global startup environment, Inman converted the business plan competition to an investor deck/business model competition and in 2012, added the Lean LaunchPad business model canvas process to further improve the competition. Student teams build business models validated by customer interaction and pitch investor decks in the competition that give judges a more thoroughly researched startup plan. Numerous Louisiana Tech students are creating real businesses after competing in the TOP DAWG events. Debbie and Stan Cronk, an engineering professor, are faculty advisors for Bulldog Entrepreneurs, the student entrepreneurship group at Tech. This group supports the TOP DAWG events and hosts the annual Innovation Olympics, a game night featuring innovation based activities. They also hold speaker events that feature successful entrepreneurs. If students are interested in leading entrepreneurial initiatives, this is the group for them. Debbie is a guest lecturer and mentor for two entrepreneurship classes: the Innovative Venture Research (IVR) class and the Innovative Product Design (IPD) class. Both classes feature multi-disciplinary team work, out of the box problem storming, customer development, and analytical thinking. In the IVR class, teams investigate the commercial potential of technologies developed by researchers at Tech. They talk to potential customers and industry contacts to help Tech and the researcher get a better feel for the market potential for each project. If you are more curious about innovation and business startup activities, contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org. The College of Business offers an Entrepreneurship Concentration and a Minor for Non-College of Business majors for students interested in pursuing the entrepreneur’s way of life. Debbie Inman recognizes that not everyone wants to own a business but in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, everyone should be entrepreneurial in using their talents and skills to succeed and make the world a better place. Thank you, Debbie, for offering unparalleled interdisciplinary entrepreneurial experiences for our students.