After meetings of the school's entrepreneurship club, Kyle Ivins would trade ideas with other student leaders on the top floor of the Utah State Business Building. Where was their starting point? Who would fund them? What was the market?
Ivins partnered with another student with whom he frequently saw eye-to-eye, Nate Putnam, on a project for an entrepreneurial class. They had to be $2,000 in the black by the end of the semester, and in small-town, blue-collar Logan, they banked $4,000. Two years later, Ivins is creative director, Putnam is CEO, and another former USU student, Kevin Hill, is chief technical officer for EnvolveAgency, the marketing agency specializing in social media marketing and white-label Web development that they started just to get an "A."
"During that campaign, we actually got our first national client, and we said 'Hey, I think we're onto something here,'" Ivins said. All three work full-time now for Envolve, which also employees part-time workers and contractors and plans to move soon from its Salt Lake City location to separate offices in Bluffdale in Farmington.
That's the type of success story that USU wants to hear more of.
The school broke ground Wednesday night on the $10 million Jeffrey D. Clark Center for Entrepreneurship, anchored by a $6 million donation from its namesake and his wife, Bonnie. The center will be located in a wing of Huntsman Hall, a 117,000-square-foot facility that began construction recently and is set to open in fall 2015. USU's entrepreneurial program windfall will include offices, work spaces for students, meeting rooms and a design studio. More places, they hope, for minds like Ivins' and Putnam's to collide.
Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Executive Director Michael Glauser, who ran a similar program at Westminster College before being recruited to USU by Huntsman School of Business dean Douglas Anderson two years ago, says the center currently reaches students and nonstudents throughout the state through its broadcasts in various locales. USU offers a 12-credit minor in entrepreneurship to all Utah students.
"We bring together all the resources that anybody would need to start and build a business in Utah," Glauser said.
Jeffrey Clark, a Utah State alum, cofounded the hedge fund Genesee Partners in 1985 and later launched his own firm, Praesideo Asset Management in 1991.
Growing up on a farm, "he said his ambition in life was to have a job that would require him to shower before work, rather than after work," Anderson joked. Clark was honored for his donation by Jon Huntsman Sr. on Wednesday night.
Anderson said the Center for Entrepreneurship will be funded exclusively from ongoing operational funds and donations.