Coleman Fellows

William Warren Interim Report: The Art of Entrepreneurship


In an effort to better integrate the University’s fine-arts related student-run ventures into Millikin’s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program, the course structure for “The Art of Entrepreneurship” was redesigned to include the development, pitch, and launch of a micro-venture utilizing an arts & business incubator located in the lower level of Blue Connection, Millikin’s student-run retail art gallery.

The piloted course structure was designed to blend theory and practice and potentially reverse the traditional theory then practice model. Inspired by the article “Entrepreneurship Education: Known Worlds and New Frontiers” by Heidi Neck and Patricia Greene, the course forces students to experience entrepreneurship first hand and gain an appreciation for the skills being taught in all of their entrepreneurship courses.

While the expectation was that students would take an easier route by designing a micro-venture within an already established business, such as one of our student-run ventures, the outcome was vastly different. I actually had to scale back the size of many ventures in order to meet the course outcomes and be able to provide enough individualized mentorship. Many of the students created micro-ventures that were different than their current media and explored more viable opportunities. One such example is student oil painter Alexa Snyder (also an entrepreneurship minor), who developed a business around recycled wool bags. A short article is available here.

Although the micro-ventures were not tied directly to any of our student-run ventures, the goal of better integrating the ventures into the program will be strengthened, because students are leaving the class with a much better understanding of the financial, human, intellectual, and material resources needed to run and sustain a venture. The students moving into leadership roles for the student-run ventures are much more prepared to run a larger business and faculty can go into more detail on the actual industry and processes of that specific venture.

As I continue to explore further integration of our student-run ventures, I will focus on our assessment tools and the outcomes established for each course. Each venture, while in a separate industry and led by a different faculty member, could create a more unified outcome and assessment tool that mirrors the Coleman Foundation definition of entrepreneurship. In addition, I hope to explore joint forums for our student-run ventures for students to share best practices.

I would highly recommend the following readings/books for those developing or redesigning their courses:

“Entrepreneurship Education: Known Worlds and New Frontiers” by Heidi Neck and Patricia Greene

Business Model Generation by Alex Osterwalder (ISBN 978-0-470-87641-1)

Effectual Entrepreneurship by Sara Sarasvathy (ISBN 978-0-415-58644-3) or Effectuation (ISBN 978-1-84844-572-7)

A copy of the syllabus for ET380 The Art of Entrepreneurship is attached.