"If 2020 taught us anything, it was that
inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs are essential – not just for their ability to address new problems as they emerge, but for lifting up economies and communities. Watching our faculty, students, and community partners in action this past year, I couldn’t help but be energized and inspired. "
-Sarah Goforth, Executive Director, Office of Entrepreneurship
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A History of Startup Success
The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation was established in 2009 by Dr. Carol Reeves, who held the Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and who served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Reeves’ accomplishments have earned her international recognition for her bold instructional style in the University’s New Venture Development courses, which she taught until 2019. Graduate students in this program count more wins at state and national business plan competitions than any other university – 29 national wins and 67 awards at the Arkansas Governor's Cup. Since 2002, students have won more than $3.5 million in prize money and raised more than $80 million to build their businesses. The greatest success stories, however, are the 50+ startup companies and organizations founded by the program's alumni.
Under Reeves’ leadership, the office opened the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub and established the Social Innovation Initiative. Today OEI oversees on-demand training, programs, and curricula serving students at every stage of their academic experience, from freshman year through postdoctoral training.
The fundamentals taught in the classroom include identifying and analyzing opportunities, developing viable business models, and funding the start-up process. Whether it's the graduate certificate in entrepreneurship or the MBA entrepreneurship concentration, the goal is the same: to equip students with the tools and opportunities to develop ideas, bring them to life, and get noticed.