by Mary Kate Roan
Their life’s ambition is to build businesses in Jacksonville.
But as President of the University of North Florida’s Entrepreneurial Society Jo Burnum puts it, it’s a, “multifaceted,” goal.
In Burnum’s opinion, it all starts with entertainment. As the president of the three-year-old group, he has big plans to help shape the future of business in Jacksonville.
“If you look around here, the entertainment is lacking,” said Burnum, who is in his final year at UNF and is part of JuicySweet Enterprises, which helps build startup businesses. “And if we can get the entertainment built up in Jacksonville, we can get some attention.”
Diane Denslow, an instructor in the Coggin College of Business, is the department head for the Society and the one that got it started.
“I was involved with an Entrepreneurial Society at Florida State and when I got here, I wanted to start one here,” said Denslow, who added that as soon as she announced the idea the students took it from there.
“It’s certainly growing,” said Denslow. “We have good leadership and innovative activities.”
The group at UNF is nationally affiliated with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO). Through that affiliation students from UNF have the opportunity go to annual conferences put on by CEO. Last year six students from the UNF Society went to the conference in Chicago. While there, they heard keynote speakers like Neil Kane of Advanced Diamond Technologies, who spoke about how to start a technological business, along with other representatives from companies across the nation.
But what would a conference for college-aged people be without a little competition?
Introducing the “Elevator Pitch Contest.”
In this competition, participants have one minute to pitch their ideas on business to a panel of judges. A cash prize is awarded for the best presentation. There are also the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, where top students are rewarded for their business savvy after presenting their ideas for businesses to a panel of judges followed by a thorough question and answer period.
The experience had an impact on Burnum and the other members of the society. That’s when he came home and took action.
Burnum’s plan for the group is to create an entertainment venue to showcase local artists and businesses which he said he hopes will, “stir up activity,” around Jacksonville. For example, the society will put on a play titled, “The Birds and the Bees of College,” which will include short skits by local writers.
The society will also host a lecture by Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, followed by a joint discussion with the Critical Minds Communication Club at UNF on Oct. 11 in the 1600 Building.
Korin will talk about Flex Fuels, the need to focus on the global fuel-based economy which has been linked to funding terrorism in the Middle East and the global market of the fuel business.
“We are a society that depends on foreign fuels,” said Burnum. “And nobody’s talking about the fuel businesses and how they affect the global economy.”
Utilizing extensive advertising for businesses at events sponsored by the society, Burnum understands an entrepreneur’s need to network.
That’s why he decided to throw a party after the lecture and discussion.
“A lot of people go to lectures and then leave,” said Burnum. “But we want them to mingle.”
The advertising and networking have already begun. Through connections that Burnum made with the New York-based Arizona Beverage Company, the company’s latest energy drink, “All City,” will be served at the party and FM-105.7 has agreed to sponsor the society and help with the after-party.
“We’re teaching students how to create jobs and how to be leaders,” said Burnum.