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Central Washington University

Kittitas students to learn about entrepreneurship from CWU College of Business

2017 I4IE entrepreneurship eventNearly three dozen Kittitas High School students are expected to participate in an entrepreneurship workshop on Friday, October 19, conducted by the CWU Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I4IE).

This is the fourth year of the program, spearheaded by College of Business (CB) students and faculty.

“Every year we try to add a new component to make it more valuable to the high school students,” said Bill Provaznik, I4IE director. “It’s for any student interested in design, business, or project management. Some of the students will be from the school’s High Capacity program, others from DECA Inc. and Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, and there will be some who won’t be affiliated with any student club or organization.” 

Provaznik, who also serves as chair of the CWU CB Department of Management, said about two dozen CWU students will help lead the workshop.

The competition will involve 8-12-member student teams, put together on the day of the competition, with the goal to help them develop the primary skills that entrepreneurs universally need, beyond simply business skills.

“Entrepreneurs need to communicate, collaborate, understand what people need, and try to develop solutions that are viable and valuable enough that customers will buy them,” Provaznik explained. “So, the high school students get a chance to try their hands at all of those things in a live simulation.”

Half of each of the student teams will comprise the marketing unit. The other half will be product designers. The simulation they will work on involves developing pet-containment units.

“People are very partial to their pets—and can express their personalities through their pets, on occasion,” Provaznik state. “Our student entrepreneurs will need to find out who these pet owners are, and what their needs are, in terms of their pets. We will have stuffed animals there with their owners. So, the students will have to design and present their ideas for the best containment units.”

The “pet owners” for the competition are actually celebrities in their own rights, Provaznik noted, listing Edgar Allan Poe, with his raven; the Man with the Yellow Hat, and Curious George, the monkey; SpongeBob SquarePants, with his pet snail, Gary; and Emily Elizabeth, with Clifford the Big Red Dog, as among the pet owners. The variety of pets represented is by design.

“A mistake that a lot of new entrepreneurs and established business owners commit is they try to make a one-size fits all product, which makes everyone uniformly unsatisfied,” Provaznik said. “When you try to be good at everything, that ensures that you’re not really good at anything in particular.” 

The college student mentors will help the high school student groups negotiate and navigate the inherent challenges when units within an organization each have good ideas, but the ideas are not necessarily the same, which can lead to conflict. 

“Many of our students are in the entrepreneurship program here [at CWU],” Provaznik pointed out. “They really enjoy working with the next generation, and helping them learn, absorb, and use some marketing and design concepts, costing and finance, and basic communication skills.” 

The Kittitas High event is a precursor to the larger “Many Faces of Entrepreneurship” tournament that will take place November 16 at the Yakima County Fairgrounds, Yakima. It will involve high school students from throughout south-central Washington.

Both events are supported by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, Robert.Lowery@cwu.edu

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