University Entrepreneur Program Spotlight: The University of Houston

University of Houston

The C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine for having one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurship programs in the nation for more than ten consecutive years. A competitive and thriving institution, the University of Houston prides itself and cultivating industrious, versatile professionals who are ready to dive into the bustling job market.

Bauer College of Business’s Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship (WCE)

The center itself was founded in 1991, while the entrepreneurship major was established in 1995 under the Bachelor of Business Administration degree (BBA). The program offers opportunities for students to become certified in corporate, social, or technological entrepreneurship paths. Students who obtain one of these certifications along with a BBA are given an edge in today’s competitive job market. The certifications inform potential employers that the student has in-depth knowledge and perspective of business operations and development. Throughout 2016, more than 2,000 University of Houston students from took at least one entrepreneurship course. Approximately 500 undergraduate students obtained certification in one of the three sections.

At the graduate level, students are given the responsibility of managing the Cougar Venture Fund. This is a million dollar operation where they work with an advisory board of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors to analyze and invest in early-stage technology companies. Through this program, graduate students learn crucial skills such as due diligence, venture capital, term sheet evaluation, deal sourcing, private equity, and other qualities that are essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

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Courses & Cost

The University of Houston’s WCE admits 30-40 undergraduate students each year after potential students are filtered through a rigorous selection and application process. The BBA in Entrepreneurship is a program structured around eight custom courses that students must take in organized succession:

  1. Introduction to Entrepreneurship,
  2. Revenues,
  3. Purpose,
  4. Costs,
  5. Entrepreneurial Strategy,
  6. Leadership,
  7. Capital,
  8. Entrepreneurial Perspectives & Implementation, and Launch.

In total, the sections are comprised of 52 entrepreneurship-related courses. The cost to attend UH is an estimated amount of $11,887 for in-state students and $27,337 for out of state. There are multiple financial aid opportunities offered for students needing financial assistance.

Mentor Program

The WCE prides itself on providing students with a curriculum that balances academia with real-world experience. The mentoring program consists of 30-40 mentors – many of which are noteworthy Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winners, WCE alumni, Silver Fox Advisors, or Operations Managers from leading corporations. In any given year, WCE has a total of 300-400 mentors volunteer their time to provide insight to our students.

David Cook, Director of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, was a seasoned promotor and business developer for Scott Paper Company. After starting his own business, MarketFinders, in 2006 he knew his passion was helping organizations take ideas and products into the market. Upon finding the Wolff Center in 2007, David began mentoring for the program. By 2009, Cook became the Director of Mentoring Programs. In 2017 he was given the position of WCE Director.

There are several variations of mentors within the WCE, here are a few examples:

  • Personal Mentors
    Once accepted into the program, students are matched with a mentor that compliments their personality, interest, and skill set. This individual will support the student throughout the entirety of the program. This mentorship is considered the most involved within the WCE.
  • Personal Purpose Mentors
    An additional mentor is assigned to students at the beginning of the program for a month-long discussion centered on Personal Purpose. This mentorship focuses on aiding the students in writing a vision for eight different areas of the student’s lives.
  • Investor Mentors
    This particular mentorship is hugely beneficial to students who depend upon employment while attending WCE. An investor mentor agrees to a $15,000 commitment that is used as a scholarship that is spread out over three semesters and is kept up to date on the progress of that student.

The WCE even has a Mentor of the Year Award. This honor is used to show appreciation of mentors who have an exceptional influence on the program and its students. Not only do the students have a support system established within the WCE, they also build lasting relationships with professionals within the business world. One of the keys to being a successful entrepreneur is to have a secure network. The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship goes above and beyond to provide this to its students.

Student Competitions

Students have the opportunity to compete in multiple competitions, two of which are hosted by the WCE: “Wolffest” and “3 Day Startup”.

Wolffest is a 3-day restaurant startup competition held every Spring that is completely student-run. It has even been incorporated into the programs capstone course so that it is the final step in completing a BBA in Entrepreneurship. The first competition was formulated by the entrepreneurship students and took place on the University of Houston’s campus in 2002.

The purpose was to help provide students experience in real-world business scenarios to give them an idea of what to expect post-graduation. The class of 30-40 students is split into 5-7 teams, a CEO is chosen, and they have the opportunity to hire classmates to join the company at the beginning of their last semester in the program. Each team then utilizes their network and/or fosters new relationships with local restaurant and food truck owners in order to negotiate deals to sell their food on campus. New establishments especially enjoy Wolffest because they benefit from on-campus exposure.

Our students encounter the many obstacles that happen when running a real business: sponsors backing out, running out of product, negotiating deals, investigating one’s competitors, and so on. The goal is for the teams to sell food for three days, and the team with the largest bottom line at the end of this three-day period is the winner.

The proceeds from the competition are used for funding scholarships. This invaluable opportunity requires students to utilize their knowledge and bring their formulated business plans to life. The 2018 competing companies were as follows: Cougar Bites, Deja Coogs, Kiss the Coog, The Hungry Wolff, WCEats, Wolff Haus, and Wolffology. Together, they raised a total of $315,000 that will fund student scholarships. This is a 43% increase from last year’s competition, making it the most successful one yet.

Those interested in Wolffest can learn more here.

Successful Alumni

There have been 284 business startups launched by WCE graduates in the last five years, with nearly $41 million in funding raised. An example of a WCE alumna success story is that of Ashley Sutton. Sutton graduated with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Finance in 2009, and in 2017 published a book titled “Overtime is SO Over,” which addresses the issues that can come with working extra hours with little to no rest, and offers advice on how to avoid burning out. Sutton used her entrepreneurial knowledge to pursue a journey to become a self-published professional.

The University of Houston maintains a reputation for hosting and molding elite professionals. The mission is to guide and empower an elite group of students as they begin to form legitimate business ventures with substantial outcomes. The interactive method prepares students for whatever comes their way in the real-world job market.

Looking for an Entrepreneurship Program that’s right for you? Check out these related articles –

Belmont UniversityLoyola Marymount UniversityBabson College

Sources: Bauer College of Business – University of Houston, Wolffest 2018 – University of Houston

Dave Clark