By Trish Nguyen, Staff Writer —

On Oct. 8, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted their second Entrepreneurship Lunch and Learn in the University Center to introduce hopeful entrepreneurs to microlending and the different forms of crowdfunding.

Katie Hendrix is the Capital Access Manager from Co.Lab, a nonprofit Chattanooga company that helps other businesses grow, and she spoke at the event about a crowdfunding program called Kiva. 

Crowdfunding is raising monetary funds from many people and can be broken into three categories: equity-based, donation-based, and loan-based. Kiva classifies as a loan-based crowdfunding platform and is an incubator for startups, Hendrix said. 

Participants at the Lunch and Learn were also informed about successful entrepreneurs nationwide who launched their business with the help of Kiva.

Junior Manish Jethva is a business finance major who attended the event and wants to start his own business in the future.

“I hope that I can learn how to reach out to people if I need help finding businesses and the right way to go about asking for help,” Jethva said.

With loan-based crowdfunding through Kiva, lenders supply loans after seeing a project proposal they like online, and the loans are eventually paid back without the entrepreneur giving away company shares.

 “It’s a viable option for some people, but it’s not for me,” Jethva said. “I’m just wanting to learn the ins and outs, so it can be an option if possible.”

Though the event focused specifically on loan-based crowdfunding, all three methods were discussed to provide participants with a wide base of knowledge to pursue their entrepreneurial goals. 

Because these events are open to everyone, students who have not yet taken upper level entrepreneurship courses can also get early exposure to what is necessary to start a business.

 “That topic was something that you wouldn’t spend a whole class period on,” Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Libby Santin said. “So for people who are really interested in what other entrepreneurs are doing or other entrepreneurial topics, to have a whole hour devoted to it is very different from what you can experience in the classroom.” 

Speakers for the events are local and chosen based on their expertise on a specific subject matter in the field of entrepreneurship, Santin said.

The Entrepreneurship Lunch and Learn series has been active for three semesters with three events per semester that are open to the entire campus, including faculty and staff. 

“I think it’s good for students to see some of their professors there and [for students to be] interacting and asking questions and also networking with them,” Santin said.

The upcoming Entrepreneurship Lunch and Learn on Nov. 13 is titled “Utilizing Social Entrepreneurship Tools for Global Impact,” where speaker Stu Minshew from the Chalmers Center will discuss how entrepreneurship can be applied to any community.


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