Workshop series: How to become an entrepreneur

Think you might have the spark of an idea for a clever invention? Ever wonder what it would be like to start up your own business? A series of upcoming NIU workshops might help you turn your dream into reality.

The NIU JobsPLUS program, in collaboration with the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships (RIPS), is organizing the 71 North Entrepreneurship and Innovation Series for NIU students, faculty, staff and community members.

The series will feature workshops focusing on different aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation. All events are free and open to the entire NIU community, unless noted below. Advance registration is requested.

Workshop topics will include how to approach angel investors, alumni success stories, entrepreneurs and their own personal health, and local and regional entrepreneurial success stories.

Most of the events will be held in the 71 North Partnership Studio on the lower level of Founders Memorial Library, adjacent to Discover Financial Service’s code_orange collaborative space.

“We wanted to create a series of events that would appeal to students, faculty, staff and community members who are already engaged in entrepreneurship or innovation, as well as those who might want to learn more about it,” said Chad Glover, director of JobsPLUS. “We welcome all students and anyone from the community who is interested in attending.”

The 71 North Partnership Studio, set to be renovated later this year, is a dedicated space on campus designed to promote innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship among students, faculty and staff, said Karinne Bredberg, RIPS assistant director for commercialization and innovation.

“We envision the 71 North Partnership Studio as the place where the spark of creativity and innovation will happen on a regular basis,” Bredberg says. “We hope this series of workshops will help us get the word out on this space—not only to students but to the entire NIU community.”

The series also will allow NIU to introduce its partnership with Innovation DuPage (ID), a nonprofit organization that supports the entrepreneurial community in the western suburbs. ID is focused on nurturing entrepreneurs building startups, innovative brands and vibrant small businesses. The organization will be among the NIU workshop series presenters.

Scheduled events (more may be added) include the following:

  • 5 to 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, 71 North – Design Thinking for the Social Impact: A World Café Experience. For NIU students only. The Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs will host a World Café-style discussion about the most pressing environmental and social issues facing our world. At the event, students will have the opportunity to participate in design-thinking, a process for creative problem-solving. Register in advance.
  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, 71 North – Preparation for Angel Investors. Travis Linderman, managing director of Innovation DuPage, will talk about the common thread that ties all startups together—the need to secure funding. Approaching investors too early can burn bridges and waiting too long hurts chances of breaking into new markets. Linderman will speak to attendees on how to prepare for angel investment and venture capital. Learn how to prepare your pitch, avoid devil investors and more. Advance registration for the public is available with 71 North; students should register with JobsPLUS.
  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 71 North – Exploring Entrepreneurship. Travis Linderman, managing director of Innovation DuPage, will moderate a panel discussion with regional entrepreneurs building products, innovation brands and game-changing technology. Discussion will focus on each phase of launching a fast-growing business, and entrepreneurs will talk about how they attract talent, grow sales and raise early investment. The discussion will provide an opportunity to ask questions and learn from startup founders taking different paths to build their businesses. Advance registration for the public is available with 71 North; students should register with JobsPLUS.
  • 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, 71 North – Aspiration to Entrepreneurship. Local entrepreneurs in business, technology, arts, education, health care and social justice will share their experiences of going from aspiration to entrepreneurship. The event will include an engaging panel discussion followed by Q&A and networking. Advance registration for the public is available with 71 North; students should register with JobsPLUS.
  • 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 71 North – Be Your Own Boss: Alumni Entrepreneurship Panel. If you’ve ever dreamed of going into business for yourself, you can hear firsthand from some of NIU’s finest alumni entrepreneurs. Panelists include NIU alumnus and Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Barsema, ’77; Ralph Strozza, ’81; Nick Strozza, ’08; and NIUAA Board Member Kimberly Moore, ’01, M.M. ’04. This event is free to students; cost for other attendees is $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance registration for the public is available with 71 North; students should register with JobsPLUS.
  • 5:30 p. m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 16, Barsema Hall Auditorium – Health, Well-being and Entrepreneurship. Hosted by Management Professor Tim Michaelis, this unique event will focus on the role of personal health in association with new venture creation. You’ll hear from world-leading experts, practicing entrepreneurs, community members and current students on how your personal health relates to starting and growing an entrepreneurial venture. Resources will be provided on the Chicagoland entrepreneurship ecosystem and how to get more involved in entrepreneurship at NIU. Advance registration for the public is available with 71 North; students should register with JobsPLUS.
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