Principal Faculty Advisor and mentor in the recently launched campus businesses, Ink It! and Cyberia, Dr. Ferdinand Che, has identified the Entrepreneurship Field Experience as one of the initiatives from the School of Business and Entrepreneurship aimed at getting students to test and explore their business ideas on campus before going out to the real world.
Dr. Che said ENT 201 “is focused on getting students to follow through on what we teach them in the classroom. We want them to test some of their ideas, to make the decisions, and to understand what it feels like to get things right or to get things wrong and take ownership in fixing them.”
The faculty advisor observed that this way of teaching entrepreneurship, which goes beyond classroom learning, makes the learning experience at AUN unique. He said, “It’s kind of different from what you will get in a typical university where you sit down in the classroom, they teach you the principles of business and you go out there at some point in the future and you get to try that out. Here, our students get to try their ideas out very quickly, in a safe environment, and then have enough time to learn from the experience.”
The Entrepreneurship Field Experience course runs every semester and welcomes students from all Schools. Each of the two businesses is supported by a $5,000 seed capital from the University but the teams are expected to generate profits and all proceeds are returned to the University to support other future businesses. Students who take the course are expected to go on to start their own businesses, potentially leveraging the experience that is gained from the course. Dr. Che explained, “The students go through the entire process of ideation, evaluation, business concept refinement, and eventually launching the businesses as those launched today, and the students will run the businesses for the rest of the semester.” As part of this course, the students get to experience how teamwork can create value for a company and they learn soft skills in managing people and relating with customers. The two business teams have been publicizing their services using different platforms such as social media, word-of-mouth, and flyers in order to reach their target markets.
The Entrepreneurship Field Experience (ENT 201) is one of two entrepreneurship courses at AUN. This semester, the students of ENT 201 went through the process of idea generation and rigorous evaluation to produce a shortlist of five potential business opportunities. The two business concepts that emerged, Ink IT! and Cyberia, were launched on the 9th of October, 2017.
One of the businesses, Ink IT! is a unique business that seeks to leverage perceived strong need or desire amongst students to identify with current and popular fashion, social, and cultural trends by providing a practical and fun way for students to channel their creativity. Ink IT! offers a range of customized merchandise such as shirts, hats, mugs, and even phone cases. The CEO of Ink IT! Abdulmiminu Modu, a final year Computer Science major, explained the essence of the business. Mr. Modu said, “Our business produces designs and customizes shirts and other items our customers want to wear to stand out from the crowd, to express their individuality, or simply to share experiences with other students in a fun and creative way, hence our tagline ‘think it, ink it’.”
The second business, Cyberia, emerged from a long-standing need for convenience, customer-friendly, and efficient printing services on campus over and above what is currently provided by the Copy Centre. The CEO of Cyberia, Daniel Attah, a final year student majoring in Petroleum Engineering, said that his team identified a need for faster and more efficient channels for students to print their assignments on campus, as presently students waste a lot of time trying to print class materials and assignments because of persistently long queues at the existing Copy Centre, which often results in late class attendance and stress. According to Mr. Attah, “One of the most important needs we have on campus is the fact that in almost every class you have to print an assignment, especially research papers, or labs reports.”
The launch of the two businesses was an important milestone event that was witnessed by the AUN President, Dr. Dawn Dekle, the Dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Attahir Yusuf, the VP of Finance, Mr. Anthony Agbo, the AVP of HR, Mr. Nourah Bamali, and members of the faculty, staff, and students. President Dekle was very impressed by the students’ business concepts. She was presented with a specially customized T-shirt as a gift in appreciation of her support. In her remark, President Dekle said “the experience develops the students’ entrepreneurial mindset and builds their problem-solving skills.” She further said that the support the students get from their faculty mentors will enable them to succeed in an entrepreneurial project. The Dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Yusuf, in his walk-through challenged the students not to take the safe university environment for granted, to account for all their costs, and to reflect those costs in their pricing decisions to ensure that their experience is as close to the real world as is possible.
Omorogbe Omorogiuwa reported this story, with contributions from Ebiuwa Uwagboe and Dr. Ferdinand Che