Minneapolis, MN, 14 July 2015 | 07:00 AM America/Chicago Fish Bowl Before Shark Tank Testing the Entrepreneurial Waters If you could start a business without the risk of not succeeding, would you do it? So many people have innovative ideas for a new business venture but don’t have the funding or support to make it happen. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, the U.S. has dropped to number 12 in the world for business startups. Are Americans becoming more hesitant to try their ideas? Is there a way to minimize the risks and emotional roller coaster that comes with turning a dream into a reality? Armed with optimism and confidence, one school of innovators is providing real-life experience starting and running a business. Risk-Taking In A Safe Environment The Carlson School at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis is helping interested college students fan their entrepreneurial flame. Their program empowers the next generation of small business owners as they launch new businesses. One unique course, Entrepreneurship in Action (EIA), provides undergraduates hands-on experience with starting a business. The course doesn’t focus on text book learning. Instead, in the words of 2006 Carlson graduate Ryan Broshar, it “throws students into the ‘fire’ to start their own business.” The best part, the ‘fire’ is in a safe learning environment. John Stavig, Director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship explained, “So many people romanticize about starting a business. It’s hard to know what steps to take.” The class provides students the chance to work together and brainstorm various products and services they would like to take to market. Funding from State Farm helps with startup expenses and a team of area entrepreneurs help give advice and feedback through the yearlong course. Moving Entrepreneurs Into Action Kari Severson, a 2008 Carlson graduate stated, “One of the most powerful experiences I had at Carlson was the EIA course.” After the first-time opportunity launching a business during the EIA course, she had the luxury of feeling like a second-time entrepreneur when after graduating she launched, Walkway Workstations. Ryan Broshar also started his own business after studying at Carlson. Currently, he’s running Matchstick Ventures, an early-stage tech capitol venture firm. He also co-founded Beta.MN and the Twin Cities Startup Week. These organizations and events are trailblazing an interesting new path. By connecting entrepreneurs to resources, investors and much more they have a stronger support system in place to succeed. Both Kari and Ryan are not only helping to support the growth of jobs and new technology, but are keeping their businesses in the Twin Cities. A top-rated business school, Carlson is doing its part to help avoid a “brain drain” of students leaving their college communities and moving to different metropolitan areas. EIA has created confidence in Kari and Ryan and many other students to pursue their passions and launch businesses that help others. Do you have an innovative idea that you want bring to market? Stop “romanticizing” your entrepreneurial dreams and discover available resources to help bring your vision to fruition!