University Entrepreneur Program Spotlight: Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University

Founded on faith and the pursuit of knowledge, Brigham Young University is a private institution that prides itself in a creative environment that encourages innovation, entrepreneurship, and cultivates strong values. Not only does BYU set a high standard for its students, but the university also maintains a standard of excellence through its faculty and resources.

The Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (CET)

An extension of the Marriott School of Business, Brigham Young University’s entrepreneur program is ranked 3rd (undergraduate) and 6th (graduate) in the nation by The Princeton Review’s Top 25 Schools for Entrepreneurship. BYU began offering entrepreneurship classes in the late 1980’s, which later turned into an entrepreneurship program that’s been operating for over 25 years. According to Steven Fox, previous managing director of CET, the program saw a surge of interest during the recession in the later 2000’s.

“People were asking how they could create their own opportunity to put food on the table…Our approach is to provide the tools needed for entrepreneurs. The soil, light and nurturing they need.” – Steven Fox via the Daily Herald

Entrepreneur Types Explained

Brigham Young University maintains a fixed enrollment and application process that prompts students to fulfill specific requirements to be considered. The application process is competitive and has a 51% acceptance rate. However, 54.6% of the university classes have fewer than 20 students which allow individuals to receive more feedback and interaction with professors. The entrepreneurship program focuses on motivating and encouraging students while shaping them into entrepreneurial leaders and innovators.

BYU emphasizes the importance of cultivating one’s ideas and maintaining the confidence and means to bring those concepts to fruition. Stephen W. Liddle, Professor of Information Systems and current Academic Director of the CET, gave an excellent example of this in his devotional “Without Compulsory Means” on May 3, 2016,

“An entrepreneur identifies an important pain that people are experiencing in their lives, explores possible solutions, and then delivers a sustainable solution to eliminate it. Entrepreneurs don’t let anything stand in their way. As I see it, entrepreneurship is all about exercising agency to learn how to do good and then using that learning to make the world a better place.”

Admission, Courses, & Cost

Students must have an ACT score of at least 27 or an SAT score of 1210 to qualify for undergraduate acceptance. The cost to attend BYU in 2018 is approximately $34,240.00. According to the U.S. News, “45% of full-time undergraduates receive financial aid, and the average scholarship or grant is $4,874.00.”

The undergraduate entrepreneurial management major is a program consisting of 63 credit hours, not including prerequisites. The CET has a limited enrollment, only allowing 40 students per application period into the program. Once in this program, students are required to take the core entrepreneurial courses in a specific sequence and are encouraged to maintain 12-15 credit hours per semester to graduate in 3-4 semesters. The introductory courses for this major are focused on the development of tactic and invention, the first of which being “Entrepreneurial Innovation,” followed by “Strategy and Economics” and “Innovation Bootcamp.”

Mentoring Program

One of the most invaluable assets of this program is the Mentoring Services. Students can sign up for these services by following an online guide that establishes what type of mentor will fit their specific needs. The program offers two different types of mentoring: advisement and team mentoring. Each mentor is required to fulfill 8 pre-requisites before they may be mentor candidates, including running previous ventures, adhering to a code of conduct, and reading 3 specific pieces of literature.

Before being assigned to a mentor, students must also complete a set of prerequisites. Applicants must research and write a business summary and accept the Student Code of Conduct. Brigham Young University established these prerequisites so that students can better understand their ideas so that they can articulate these concepts to their mentor. After completing these steps, students sign up for a mentor at

There are also mentoring opportunities for BYU alumni through the Alumni Mentoring Partnership (AMP) and Alumni Career Services, which provide advice and networking assistance. In addition to these resources, the university also offers guidance to Utah residents that are searching for help and access to office space and funding sources through the Business Resource Center.

An Advisory Board: 7 Reasons They are Critical to the Scalable Startup [Infographic]

Student Competitions

There are multiple competitive opportunities for entrepreneurship students. One of these opportunities is the Miller Competition Series (MCS), which is organized by BYU’s Global Management Center. The MCS is known as the nation’s largest single-university startup competition. The MCS features three major competitions:

  • The Big Idea Pitch

    The first of the three MCS competitions, the Big Idea Pitch is an opportunity for BYU students to submit their project ideas. The project proposals are judged on a 1-10 scale using a three-part criterion that includes problem/opportunity, market/scalability, and solution/plan. The goal is to have a well-landscaped business idea that is innovative, marketable, and feasibly planned. 1st place receives a cash prize of $500, 2nd $350, and 3rd $300.

  • The Business Model Competition

    Also known as phase two of the MCS, the Business Model Competition is the test of business models established in the Big Idea Pitch. Students must adjust their business pitch based on the feedback given in the previous competition and also test their ideas on potential customers. The top 10 winning teams win $20,000 in prizes.

  • The New Venture Challenge

    Also considered the final phase of the MCS, the New Venture Challenge is the presentation of the start-up companies that competing students have been cultivating in the previous two competitions. Students must present their idea during the Showcase, the concepts are judged based on the uniqueness of the proposition, customer fulfillment, commercial potential, and how scalable the potential business is. The top 8 teams are awarded $15,000 and are admitted to the summer-long Founder’s Launchpad accelerator, which is an opportunity to work on their business models in free office space where they are provided with a personal mentor and attend exclusive workshops.

Brigham Young University has consistently seen significant wins from their students in previous years. In 2004 BYU undergraduate startup Property Solutions won $250,000 as first runner-up at the National Institute for Entrepreneurship’s Venture Bowl in New York. This is on top of the  $50,000 the team won as first-place finishers in Fortune Small Business Magazine’s first “MBA Showdown.” The startup Property Solutions utilized a software called RESIDENT WORKS that helped managed multi-family housing. The startup gained a variety of clients across Utah, Idaho, California, Nevada, and Texas.

Successful Alumni

A few examples of successful companies that were started by Marriott graduates are 1-800-Contacts, Allegiance,, J Dawgs, KT Tape, Novi Security, HM Cole, Eco-Scraps, FiberFix, and numerous others. Many graduates pursue positions in organizations that have already been established such as Kohl’s, Barclays Capital, General Mills, and more. Graduates that obtain jobs at the previously mentioned firms make use of their product development, management, and marketing skills.

An example of a recent BYU Marriott alum success story is a company called JoJo’s Chocolate, which was co-founded by Sterling Jones, who graduated with an Entrepreneurial Management degree in 2015. Jones and his mother “JoJo”, the namesake of the business, began in their home kitchen and released their first chocolate bar in 2012. Since then they have outgrown the space and moved their production to a large-scale factory. They’ve expanded their sales through Amazon, their website, and four hundred other retail locations. Sterling Jones “…believes he wouldn’t have been so successful without attending BYU Marriott. The connections he made and the things he learned have driven the company since it started while Jones was a student, and the same principles and people have helped him succeed since he graduated in 2015.” The company currently earn an average of $200,000 in revenue annually.

Marriott College of Business’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology is an institution dedicated to cultivating creative and ambitions innovators who value their faith and their community. Not only does BYU set a high standard for its students, but the university also maintains a standard of excellence through its faculty and resources. Students leave this institution with lifelong connections and a foundation on which they can build their livelihood.

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Dave Clark