Entrepreneurship at DePaul: resources for career success

08 April 2021
DePaul students see the sights in Chicago

Dr. Gretchen Frickx, director of the Global Gateway Program at DePaul University, explored the University’s entrepreneurial spirit after first learning about Lauren Pingad, an undergraduate student who found a way to help others during COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Frickx said, “I read an article about how Lauren started a high-quality protective mask venture. I wanted to support a DePaul student, so I went online and ordered masks for the whole family. When my masks arrived, I was delighted! They fit well, are comfortable and come in great fabrics.”

Lauren’s entrepreneurial work spurred Dr. Frickx to find out more about how college students can take a good idea, start a company, get funding, and launch production in a few short weeks. The key to her success, said Lauren, was the support she received from the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center (CEC) at DePaul. Though open to all DePaul students and alumni, the CEC complements the renowned entrepreneurship programs, which are ranked #19 for graduate students and #23 for undergraduates in the nation, according to The Princeton Review (2021).

DePaul offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in entrepreneurship, both of which are designed to help students form a new business venture by taking it from an idea to a fully-fledged company. Students learn about all elements of starting a business, from managing products and teams, to business plan development, to Global IPOs and venture capital. At the graduate level, students take classes in subjects such as creativity, innovation, and design, as well as in financing and managing new ventures. The entrepreneurship program is widely successful as, to date, alumni of DePaul’s graduate entrepreneurship program have started 157 companies, and collectively raised over $276 million in funding.

The Business Accelerator Program provides more opportunities for entrepreneurs. Launched by the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute (WEI), the Business Accelerator supports DePaul graduates as they start and grow their companies. Despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, 75% of companies with founders who have gone through the WEI’s Business Accelerator are still profitable, zero of the businesses have closed (compared to 97,966 businesses that permanently closed during the pandemic), and 40% of the businesses that are part of the Business Accelerator increased their revenue in 2020. This clearly demonstrates how invaluable the support received through the DePaul community was to these business owners.

To support the students in DePaul’s entrepreneurship programs, the CEC mentors and empowers students as they build sustainable businesses. To do this, the CEC offers Start Up Clinics - competitions with a similar format to the popular television show, Shark Tank - as well as business mentors, internship connections and workshops focusing on key business areas such as legal and accounting basics, sales and marketing, and social media.

In addition to being home to over 30 Fortune 500 companies, Chicago is also a hub for start-up businesses. The CEC capitalizes on its location, partnering with 1871, the largest business incubator in North America, which is located just a few blocks away in the Merchandise Mart. DePaul students are offered the opportunity to reserve space to work in this unique environment and collaborate with industry innovators. Additionally, CEC partners with 2112, another business incubator that specifically focuses on developing business in music, film and creative technology.

With resources like these available, it’s easy to see how Lauren and other entrepreneurial students are able to build their own businesses while earning their DePaul degrees. If you have an idea for a business, find out how you can enroll at DePaul to start fulfilling your dream today.