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Village Connects Students, Alumni Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship Village-119-LAlumna Kathleen Bond (’11) knew she wanted to own her own business, so she studied entrepreneurship while in the Honors Program at Belmont University. But it was two years later that the then-Turnip Truck manager would return to campus for insight at the Center for Entrepreneurship. With the guidance of professors, she and her parents purchased and remodeled a coffee shop in the Gulch.

“When we first started looking at Casablanca, background research could only get us so far,” Bond said. “We needed someone who could help us understand why they were trying to get out of the market and how we could make profits and lower costs.”

Entrepreneurship Professor Jeff Cornwall helped her parents see the big picture as investors, she said. Today Bond employs 17 people, including her younger brother and sister and oversees the 1,200-square-foot Bond Coffee Shop that serves paninis and bagels alongside its coffee.

Bond returned to campus again Wednesday to share her success story and promote her business during the second annual Entrepreneurship Village. In the amphitheater and surrounding the Bell Tower, 33 student- and alumni-owned businesses in the idea, early start-up and revenue generating phases showcased their innovation and creativity.

“I think by assembling this critical mass, we are able to share the quality, ability and volume of what’s been happening in the program. It is great for alumni to connect with current students, find interns and make contacts,” Cornwall said.

Students and alumni promoted their construction, photo booths, smart phone apps, T-shirts, milkshakes, dance classes, web development, jewelry and hair bows.

Entrepreneurship Village-137-LStudents study an array of subjects but find support for their businesses in the Center for Entrepreneurship. Maddie Rae Smith, a junior studying design communication, started making hair bows in her bedroom, has grown to outfit a sorority and is expanding into bow ties for men through her company, The Bowsmith.

Erin Connors, a sophomore studying accounting and finance, began as a sales associate in BLVD Music Shop and was promoted to manager. The student-run business on Belmont Boulevard plans to bring back Buzzy’s Candy Shop as part of the music consignment store this fall.

“It’s been interesting to see how the numbers work out in a small business. I’m getting hands on experience that makes me look at my major differently and appreciate the opportunity,” Connors said.

Alumnus Clark Buckner (’13), owner of ETPcast, a weekly podcast sharing interviews with entrepreneurs, said, “The Center for Entrepreneurship has had a big impact on my life and the ETP platform is a way I can give back. It is good for me to build contact and market myself, and it helps students to learn and provides everyone opportunity.”