"E3" class helps student entrepreneurs to set up shop

by Beacon Staff • October 12, 2005

A 10 a.m. class is the last place most juniors and seniors would want to be on a Friday morning. But for the 18 students in Professor of Marketing Communications Karl Baehr's "E3: Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship" class, it seems they would not want to be anywhere else.

E3 is a new course at Emerson that teaches students what textbooks don't-how to support themselves in the real world.

"This class is different from any other class I've taken because it's very, very creative," said Stephanie Venzian, a junior TV/video and marketing communications double major. "You have the freedom to choose what you are doing and how you are doing it. There is no formula to follow."

Baehr has started several small businesses across the country, including radio stations and software companies. His enterprise ventures include designing a satellite radio network, patenting a radio research technology and developing his own company, Knowledge Based Evolution, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2004.

Now Baehr is taking on anotherproject-guiding aspiring Emerson entrepreneurs through the world of commerce by teaching students how to start their own companies. The course is open to all majors but is only offered to juniors and seniors.

The year-long class meets twice a week in four-hour segments. It will conclude with an E3 Symposium where students will present their new ventures to potential business and capital partners willing to invest money in their product. Baehr said he believes the students may successfully lure investors.

"Absolutely," he said. "Many students have already been approached."

Student business proposals range from music industry-related ventures, from managing a new artist to working with sports network Podcasts (audio broadcasts that can be downloaded via the Internet). Other projects have focused on programming, fashion design and marketing, integrated marketing companies and advertising agencies, new lighting technology, travel and entertainment publications and a personal documentary business.

Shire Titus's face lit up as she passionately described her concept. A senior film major, Titus is starting a "life catching" personal documentary company. After her father passed away recently, she realized how important video was to preserving a memory. With her company, she will capture family events like birthday parties or weddings.

Cole Poelker, a senior visual and media arts major, said he hopes to enhance his field by creating a lighting product with a digital gel that could replace conventional film and TV lights.

Not all students are pursuing ideas linked to their majors. Alyssa Spellman, a senior marketing communications and theatre studies double major, said she wants to start a company that uses wind farming as an alternative, reliable and affordable way to preserve energy.

Many of these students said they hope the knowledge and experience they develop in E3 will make their dreams a reality.

"We are all creative people, but this class gives us opportunities to harness the business," said Alex Damashek, a senior visual and media arts major.

Baehr began one class by introducing two successful entrepreneurs while reminding his students, "everything you are about to learn goes straight to your business plan." E3 also gives students the opportunity to meet successful entrepreneurs who give advice and teach students the skills to make it in the business world during most classes, Baehr said.

Many of the students in E3 said so far the class is a success.

"I would recommend this class to anyone with creative business plans for the future," said William O'Connell, a senior marketing communications major. "You make your ideas and expand on them. It is great to have a professor who, rather than being robotic and saying the same stuff, is very interesting,"

From the professor's perspective, this course seems to be successful as well. "The program continues to go wonderfully," Baehr said. "I am thrilled by the ideas and the enthusiasm."

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