Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Always Berry Magnets

Barnwell Chapel

The renovation of Barnwell Chapel is one of many crowdfunding projects you can support this spring.

Support a crowdfunding project, snag a magnet!

Are you looking for a way to show your school spirit that’s absolutely unique to Berry? We’ve got the perfect thing – an “Always Berry” deer magnet. For a limited time only, you can get your own outdoor magnet with a gift of $5 or more to any of our spring crowdfunding projects. Make your gift at Berry Funder, and we’ll mail you a magnet for your car or fridge. Support two or more projects, and you get BOTH the doe and the buck!

Crowdfunding options range from the renovation of Barnwell Chapel to scholarships honoring Rufus Massey (75C) and Dr. Chaitram Singh. You can also make gifts supporting student entrepreneurship, study abroad, the Longleaf Pine Project and the David Shankles Student Emergency Relief Fund, among other options.

Visit Berry Funder today to make your gift and “join the herd.” Once you get your magnet, be sure to snap a photo and share on social media using the hashtag #AlwaysBerry.

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Students representing The Berry Farms Genetics Enterprise discuss their work with an attendee at the SPARK Conference.

Students discuss the work of The Berry Farms Genetics Enterprise during the recent SPARK Conference, hosted by Berry College Student Enterprises.

Students with the entrepreneurial bug have had plenty of opportunities to nurture their innovative ideas lately! Berry recently hosted its first student pitch competition, featuring $27,000 in donor-funded prizes, as well as the annual Spark Conference for social entrepreneurship.

Thirteen students representing seven different majors took part in the pitch competition, with five finalists presenting their ideas before live and virtual audiences to a panel of alumni judges who are no strangers to entrepreneurial success: Jeff Jahn (07C), Roy Miller (58C), Tricia Steele (09C) and Robert Swarthout (04C).

For Steele, “entrepreneur” was a natural career choice, even as a physics major.

“Studying science made me a great problem solver,” she explained. “And then I found that people will pay you really well to solve problems for them!”

Like the judges, senior Ben Umberger has pursued his entrepreneurial dreams at Berry. His Umberger Farms Cattle Company won the top prize of $10,000 from the Henry and Clara Ford Fund for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with an additional $1,000 audience-choice award. In his pitch, he described how he learned to raise cattle as a young boy, a story to which Miller related.

“Growing up on a farm … I can admire what Ben has done, going through the struggles and things he’s had to go through to get where he is,” Miller said.

Other winners in the competition included:

  • Josie Hadaway, Written By J, $7,500 Chairman’s Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Jorie Hodapp, Jorie Cakes, $5,000 Bettyann O’Neill Innovation Fund
  • Harmony Petty, Harmony’s Crafty Creations, $2,500 Entrepreneurial Seed Fund
  • Anthea Phitides, Well Made by Marula, $1,000 Entrepreneurial Seed Fund

The following day, the SPARK Conference hosted by Berry College Student Enterprises took center stage. Among those leading sessions were Jahn, who launched his award-winning DynamiX web development firm as a Berry student, and Atlanta Tech Village Vice President Karen Akridge Houghton (01C). Keynote remarks were delivered by Alex Gonzalez, chief innovation officer for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and founder of the Highwire Group, a consultancy of executives, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders who advise executives on being pioneers and change-leaders.

Entrepreneurship is a major priority of Berry’s LifeReady Campaign.

By Jennifer Wright

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As a student juggling football practice, theatre rehearsals and work in HackBerry Lab, Alec Leeseberg (17C) appreciated the pick-me-up provided by a good cup of coffee. It should come as no surprise then that one of the budding entrepreneur’s early inventions was HoloBrew, a “smart” appliance meant to provide the perfect cup every time.

Leeseberg discovered his passion for designing new electronics through Berry’s innovative creative technologies major. Working and studying in HackBerry Lab, he gained valuable skills in computer programming and 3-D printing that helped unlock his first invention, HoloView, which projected holograms using a smartphone. That product became the centerpiece of an entrepreneurship project and ultimately the basis for his own company.

Those experiences taught him the basics of managing a business and paved the way for subsequent inventions like HoloBrew. They also helped him catch the eye of GoFire, a Colorado-based startup he now serves as technology project manager, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he will pursue a master’s degree in creative technology and design.

Leeseberg hopes his work at GoFire and in Colorado’s BTU lab will offer a jolt to his own career prospects more powerful than any double-shot of caffeine, allowing him to take full advantage of the foundation Berry provided.

“Berry and the creative technologies major prepared me for working in this field more than any other program could,” he praised. “It gave me a set of skills and a unique perspective that I find valuable every day.”

Hear more about Leeseberg’s Berry experience in the accompanying admissions video produced while he was a student.

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Emilee BurroughsSenior Emilee Burroughs’ vision of launching her own “Christ-centered, fashion-forward, body-positive” magazine has earned her an invitation from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council to compete in the Student Entrepreneur Program’s business pitch competition in Las Vegas.

Visit www.berrystories.com to read more about how Burroughs brought her dream to life with the launch of Anointed magazine. While you’re on the site, be sure to check out some of the other students and alumni who are making their mark. Use the “Share a Story” tab at the top of the Berry Stories homepage to suggest other possible subjects.

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Jeff JahnJeff Jahn (07C) describes himself as an “insatiable digital enthusiast and entrepreneur,” but rising star also applies. DynamiX, the company he founded in 2005 while a sophomore at Berry, has grown into one of the most respected website development companies in Atlanta, last fall earning seven international Davey Awards for creative excellence. He’s also co-founded several funded start-ups including Home Elephant, Dwellio and Think App Studio. His work has been featured by numerous national media outlets, and he remains engaged with Berry, routinely sharing his expertise with current students. You can bet we will be hearing more about him in the future!

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First-class facilities, centers for integrity in leadership and entrepreneurship, enhancements to the Work Experience Program, generous scholarships, and new student mentoring initiatives are the focus of LifeReady: The Berry College Campaign for Opportunity.

Together, these campaign priorities will build on Berry’s historic mission of educating the head, heart and hands and further strengthen opportunities for students to discover their gifts and realize their potential. The result will be graduates who leave Berry even better prepared to improve their homes, workplaces and communities.

“Opportunity long has been Berry’s pledge to hardworking students,” said Barry Griswell (71C), retired chairman and CEO of Principal Financial Group and campaign co-chair with fellow college trustee Randy Berry. “The experience of a Berry education has changed my own life and others, while the character of a Berry education has changed communities for the better. We want to continue this important work.”

The campaign launch was accompanied by news that more than $73 million in gifts and pledges were already in hand. These early commitments – made during the four years preceding the May 17 kickoff event – include $24 million to support an eventual total of 130 innovative, mission-based Gate of Opportunity Scholarships. Funding also has been completed for the McAllister Hall endowment supporting science education and science-based scholarships.

Future commitments will make possible major facilities enhancements for Berry’s growing animal science program and much-needed renovations for the college’s primary performing arts venues, Ford Auditorium and Blackstone Hall. Other brick-and-mortar projects include a campus welcome center and entry enhancements; the Valhalla stadium for football, lacrosse, and track and field; and the recently completed renovation of Roy Richards Memorial Gymnasium.

Learning experiences will be enriched through centers focused on integrity in leadership and entrepreneurship, while work experiences – long a hallmark of a Berry education – will be enhanced through gifts supporting Berry Student Enterprises and other high-level student work positions. New mentoring programs will help students maximize the opportunities afforded by their Berry experience.

Details about each campaign priority can be found at www.berry.edu/lifeready. The site also includes information about giving options alumni and friends can use to help make these projects a reality. Gifts of any size through June 2020 count toward the campaign total.

“We could not be where we are today without your support, and we will not achieve the goals of this campaign without your help going forward,” President Steve Briggs said in an email message to alumni. “We have the opportunity to have a profound impact on Berry and the lives of future students.”

Campaign launch.

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Lion's ThreadSenior Sydney Hulebak’s participation in the Clinton Global Initiative University has resulted in a $4,000 Resolution Project grant for Lion’s Thread, a business venture she launched with Brin Enterkin (12C) that is providing opportunity and assistance for the people of Uganda. Lion’s Thread markets bow ties crafted by Ugandan women, with profits providing money for salaries, entrepreneurship training and seed funding so that the women can one day start a business of their own.

Lion’s Thread grew out of Hulebak’s involvement with the African SOUP, a nonprofit started by Enterkin that is working to improve the lives of Ugandan orphans. Hulebak was looking for a way to put her lifelong interest in fashion to work for others, and the collaboration with Enterkin provided the perfect opportunity.

Hulebak will continue her work with Lion’s Thread during the coming year while also gaining valuable nonprofit experience as a fellow with the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in Atlanta.

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