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14 students participating in inaugural UTK “Entrepreneurship LLC”

Fourteen first-year students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) will become entrepreneurial pioneers when they move into Hess Hall in a few weeks.

The 14, evenly divided between business and non-business majors, will inaugurate “Entrepreneurship LLC (ELLC),” according to Tom Graves, Director of Operations for the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI). The LLC stands for “Living Learning Community.”

Graves will serve as ELLC’s Director.

The 14 students that comprise the inaugural ELLC cohort were recruited with the expectation that they would eventually start their own business and would benefit from living with and learning from similarly-minded students.

In addition to committing to live together on the “Entrepreneurship Floor” in Hess Hall, the ELLC members will participate in ACEI’s eight-week “Vol Court” series of one-hour workshops focused on starting a business. They are also required to enroll in Business Administration 103: Learning Community Seminar, a one-hour course during fall and spring semesters; participate in a kick-off event for the community; and actively engage in community activities and enrichment opportunities throughout the year.

“I’m pleased with the mix,” Graves said, noting that the dominant group outside business is the “pre-professional” category from the College of Arts and Sciences. He added that he is “very interested in understanding the focus in entrepreneurship from aspiring doctors, dentists and lawyers.”

Eleven of the 14 students come from Tennessee, and nine are male. Besides majors in business and arts and sciences, the other two colleges represented are Agricultural and Natural Sciences and Engineering.

“A group this size for our first year will allow me to get to know the students well and identify ways to improve the participation and the processes,” Graves said.

For Graves and ACEI, this is a natural progression in terms of supporting entrepreneurship throughout the UTK campus, not just in the College of Business Administration.

ACEI describes its mission as fostering “an entrepreneurial culture at the university and across the state by developing student skills, providing experiential learning opportunities, and connecting students with mentors and resources that can help them successfully start and grow new businesses.”

Center activities include the “Vol Court” entrepreneurial speaker series and pitch competition, an Undergraduate Business Plan Competition for student teams from across the university, the Boyd Venture Fund that provides a seed funding opportunity for any UTK student-owned company, and a chapter of the national Collegiate Entrepreneur’s Organization. ACEI is also a co-sponsor of the one-week inaugural “Empowered Teen Entrepreneurship Summer Camp” for high school students that is underway this week.

In the case of ELLC, the tag line in the promotional materials says it all – “Come for a degree, leave with a business.”

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