First annual Entrepreneurship Extravaganza

Colleen Watson

Many college graduates start their careers at an entry-level job with dreams of making millions someday.

Though that dollar figure may be slightly unrealistic, this week’s Entrepreneurship Extravaganza will offer some of the tools needed to make it a little more feasible.

The event will kick off today at 6 p.m. with Thomas Christopher speaking at the Solomon Lecture Series.

“I’ve been to the lecture series before, and I really take a lot from the speakers,” freshman marketing major Sydney Bennett said. “They are so experienced, and we get to hear all the tricks of the trade.”

Christopher, a Kent State graduate, is currently president of the Follett Higher Education Group. He has also served as vice president of operations at Pier 1 Imports and president of Barnes & Noble Retail Division.

“Networking opportunities will be available to all of those who attend the events,” said Julie Messing, the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation.

“We’ve had students who received job offers through their networking,” she continued.

The variety of businesses present at the extravaganza will give students a broad base of opportunities to choose from.

“It’s really appropriately named as an ‘extravaganza,'” said Lee McMannis, Kent State’s entrepreneur-in-residence. “We’ll have 25 to 30 companies and entrepreneurs with displays at the event.”

Melissa Mingione, a student assistant at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, said the event will benefit all majors. “You don’t know what doors will open when you’re networking.”

“In addition to networking and the sharing of ideas, (the attendees) will learn a few tools and ideas that will help improve their business and inspire innovation in new areas.”

Some of those tools will come courtesy of Friday’s Extreme Entrepreneur Tour.

The tour features entrepreneurs, most of them under 25, who have made their first million, taken their first company public or had a huge impact on the entrepreneurial world, Messing said.

Kent State is one of 10 colleges on the tour’s fall agenda.

Other Friday events include a comedy performance by Kent State alumnus Ryan Dalton and a motivational keynote speech by Ray Dalton, president and CEO of PartsSource LLC.

“The primary focus of the extravaganza is to raise awareness of entrepreneurship in general and help give (attendees) the tools for it,” Messing said.

Bennett hopes the event will raise student awareness of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation.

“Since (the event) is open to all students, we’ll be able to show them what the center is capable of,” she said.

McMannis said this year won’t be the last for the extravaganza.

“We absolutely intend to do this next year,” McMannis said. “It’s our hope that next year we’ll have representatives from all the campuses and make this into a renowned northeast Ohio entrepreneurship event.”

Contact College of Business Administration reporter Colleen Watson at [email protected].