KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Students need to know more than business theory to ace an entrepreneurship program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
They need to actually start a business with the potential for expansion.
Seven students are marketing an implantable wireless monitoring service for dog owners and their veterinarians. Two students are automating work for attorneys. One student is creating a web service for businesses to create, share and complete forms.
This spring, those students were among 32 who were part of the first class graduating from the E Scholars Program run through the university's Henry W. Bloch School's Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Henry Bloch, co-founder of tax preparation company H&R Block, was part of the clapping crowd.
All students regardless of their major may apply if they have an idea for a business. Those who are accepted learn how to write their business plan, take entrepreneurship classes and work with entrepreneurs and business people from the Kansas City area.
Institute Executive Director Michael Song said the goal is to accelerate the formation of businesses that will make over $50,000 in revenue the first year and more than $1 million in revenue in five years.
Andy Kallenbach, who is developing the business form company, started helping people with computers while still in high school and finished a two-year associate's degree in liberal arts after graduation. The 33-year-old from Kansas City worked his way up to a job managing an information technology department of a small insurance business before deciding he needed more schooling to start his own business.
He was pursuing a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship when he saw fliers in November promoting the E Scholars program. The organizers weren't satisfied with a computer consulting business.
"They wanted something scalable," he said. With paid help, he called 350 restaurants in the Kansas City area about whether there would be interest in the business form idea and described the response as positive.
The concept got him accepted into the program, which landed him with free office space and the chance to listen to experts in subjects such as social media use and bounce ideas off business people such as former H&R Block Inc. CEO Thomas Bloch.
He recently won $400 in a business creation contest, and there is the potential for venture seed money at the end of the summer. He also has been offered investment money but so far hasn't taken any.
He said the goal is to nail the needs of the first batch of restaurant customers this summer.
"Our long-term goal is a little bit grander," he said. "We hope that by the end of the year we are able to allow any small business to manage business forms on our website."