UT Entrepreneurs Welcome Participants to Regional Conference

Students learn how to forge a path as young entrepreneurs

Published: Apr 1, 2011
More than 100 participants from schools like Bradley University in Illinois, Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and Texas State University attended the conference.
More than 100 participants from schools like Bradley University in Illinois, Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and Texas State University attended the conference.
For the second year, UT Entrepreneurs is hosting a three-day conference on the ins and outs of owning a business and forging a path as a young entrepreneur.

The difference this year is that the 2011 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference, April 1-3 on the 9th floor of the Vaughn Center, is the official regional conference of the national Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO).

“For any students interested in starting their own business, this conference gives them concentrated information, support and inspiration,” said Jake Filloramo ’12, an entrepreneurship major and president of UT Entrepreneurs.

More than 20 entrepreneurs from across the U.S. will speak to participants from schools like Bradley University in Illinois, Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and Texas State University. Only a third of the 100 registered participants are from UT.

“While they’ll come with new ideas, the biggest thing students will take away from the conference will be the connections they make,” said Professor Rebecca White, the James W. Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship and director of the Entrepreneurship Center.

“These are students from various schools coming to network and meet each other, expanding beyond their campuses,” White said. “That’s when the learning is exponential.”

Twenty students have signed up for the conference’s business pitch competition, which comes with a $1,000 prize for first place. Nick Chmura ’12, who placed eight for his pitch at the November Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization (CEO) national conference, is among the participants.

Chris Miller ’12, an MBA student with an entrepreneurship concentration, is a speaker at this year's conference and owner of Delta Real Estate Portfolio. He came to a roadblock last year when researching external events for UT Entrepreneurs. So he created one, drawing 50 students, including a group of 10 from South Dakota, to the first UT entrepreneurship conference.

Working off that experience, Miller said they’ve included a community outreach component that involves a city-wide business pitch competition, American Idol style, with the audience voting on the best pitch. Beta Alpha Psi and UT Diplomats are volunteering to help with logistics throughout the weekend and the Self Employment in the Arts organization has partnered with the conference.

“We have a handful of artists speaking about building business skills to succeed as an artist,” said Miller. The slate of speakers includes Dmitri and Anna Shelest, entrepreneurs who own the artists’ management agency DVS Worldwide and concert pianists who not only will be presenting during the conference, but will be performing Friday evening.

Miller said they received a grant from the Coleman Foundation and are hoping to generate funds to grow the UT organization and future conferences. The work of organizing a conference like this comes with challenges but falls in line with these students’ strengths.

“Planning this conference is not unlike starting a business,” said White. “It’s unbelievable the work they have done, and it’s all been with their own initiative.”


Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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