New Class to Fund Student Teams with $5,000 Grants to Build Business Ideas

Mentors from Dallas Entrepreneur Center to coach students during intense, ambitious semester; applications due before Nov. 20

Fireworks are going off among SMU students with business ideas.

A new class, “Accelerating your Startup” (AMAE 4377), taught by Dallas entrepreneur and Meadows adjunct lecturer Trey Bowles, matches students with mentors from the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), giving students unprecedented access to area business leaders as they work through a semester covering topics such as market research, brand building, online marketing, revenue models, launching sales channels, upselling, raising capital and more. The new class is a stellar opportunity for students to turn their business ideas into reality with the help of an expert lineup of mentors.

Students will work in teams, with each team receiving a $5,000 grant to develop its ideas during the semester. What’s more, teams have the option of furthering their business plans after semester’s end through a summer incubation program at the DEC in Dallas’s Design District, providing the team(s) with in-depth coaching, office space and additional access to North Texas movers and shakers.

This is an all-star opportunity for students to learn from DEC co-founders Trey Bowles and Jeremy Vickers (a 2008 SMU M.S. in Entrepreneurship graduate), and other select guest lecturers pertinent to the class’s core topics. The students in this course will have access to seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors including Bowles, himself an entrepreneur experienced in raising venture capital, and area startup executives from organizations such as Mark Cuban Companies, Buzzshift and Microsoft.

AMAE 4377 is open to all SMU students, but students must first apply to be accepted into the class using a special DEC website; applications are due by November 20. Interested students can sign up without a team or a business idea, with the goal of being added to a team that needs more people. Applications will be evaluated by Bowles and Vickers; Meadows Dean José Bowen; and Meadows Director of Arts Entrepreneurship and Assistant Professor of Practice James Hart. Preference will be given to juniors and seniors, but first-years and sophomores can also apply. Those accepted into the program can then sign up for the class on Access.

“Each school at SMU has been invited to participate, and Meadows is the first to contribute funding for the project,” says Bowles. “Dean Bowen sees the incredible value in this program and we’re grateful for his support.”

“Most artists run small businesses, but most art schools offer very little training in how to do this,” says Bowen. “As an artist myself I understand. I am often so busy creating (or being) the product that it is a struggle to find time to do the marketing, sales and contract negotiation. But you don't get paid for practicing. This is a chance for students to develop a real business plan for a new arts business.”

Bowles says one of the goals of the class is for students to develop their business full time after graduation. “Each team that takes the option of continuing through the DEC summer incubator will be held accountable to their plan and to their DEC mentor(s) in order to ensure success,” he says. “They will be exposed to the startup community and have the option to speak with investors and entrepreneurial leaders and learn from the existing entrepreneurs in the North Texas area.”

For more information, contact your student advisor or the Division of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship at 214-768-3425.