Marquette forms student-run business program

Seven startups vying to operate under Blue and Gold Ventures

Owen Raisch

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Marquette University‘s College of Business Administration has formed a new Student-Run Business Program and invested $300,000 in the effort.

Owen Raisch

The businesses will be housed under a separate nonprofit holding company, Blue and Gold Ventures Inc.

“The separation benefits us because it enables us to be a lot more agile,” said Owen Raisch, associate director of the Student-Run Business Program. “We can move a lot more quickly to do various business deals and we can use our own legal resources.”

About 15 students from six student startups this week completed a summer accelerator program run by a seventh student startup, Eagle Incubator, to test out their ideas’ market traction. Each received $5,000 each in seed funding, and five to 12 advisory board members. They will now apply for inclusion in Blue and Gold Ventures this fall, Raisch said. The program is currently operating out of Milwaukee coworking space Ward4.

The student startups are:

  • Eagle Incubator, a student-run incubator for student businesses;
  • Tangible, a student-run incubator for local consumer goods that is expected to launch this month in partnership with Startup Milwaukee;
  • Buena Vida Coffee, a direct-trade coffee bean supplier that donates a meal to children in need for every bag sold;
  • Vida, a brick-and-mortar coffee shop affiliated with Buena Vida Coffee, which plans to open a retail space this fall;
  • ReVamp, a real estate investment venture focused on improving student housing near Marquette’s campus, with assistance from the Marquette commercial real estate program;
  • The Blockchain Lab, a Marquette program that hosts events to increase awareness of blockchain technology;
  • 1881 Event Productions, an on-campus and Milwaukee-area event management company.

Raisch modeled B&G Ventures after similar programs at Cornell University and Harvard University. The separate but affiliated nonprofit allows B&G to move quickly on startup opportunities, but also receive support from the university, he said.

The goal is to give students hands-on experience running a real, financially sustainable business.

“Basically what we’re doing is student run businesses are a very effective way of getting students out into the community,” he said. “But they’re also very effective at providing students with these hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.”

And B&G Ventures plans to create jobs in the process.

“By 2022, we expect to employ 250 students from Marquette and we expect to have at least 12 businesses up and running,” Raisch said.

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