FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. – Being a student at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) has afforded 19 students a unique opportunity – they have conceptualized, started and operated their on-campus businesses supported by a yearly scholarship and a micro loan of up to $5,000.
By playing multiple roles – from finance, operations, sales, marketing, and logistics – the students, who come from varied backgrounds and have different majors, acquire the necessary skills to open their own enterprise after they graduate. The Razor’s Edge Shark Cage Scholars Program started its fourth edition this fall in NSU’s brand-new facility, Mako Hall, a modern residential building that is now home to more than 600 students.
“The program has grown significantly since its launch in 2016,” said Brad Williams, Ed.D., NSU’s vice president of student affairs and dean for the College of Undergraduate Studies. “It is a great accomplishment to have a unified business space for the students to operate their enterprises.”
During the program, students develop several key skills while managing limited resources and overcoming daily operational challenges. Through learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom, they are prepared to start their own business, purchase an existing company, buy a franchise, organize the launch of new products or services, or work for an existing organization and lead the development of a new division.
“Running an actual business is not comparable to reading about it in a textbook,” said Tom Tworoger, Ph.D., a professor in NSU’s H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Entrepreneurship Department. “Having our students run their own businesses creates great experiential learning opportunities.”
Whether looking for something to eat or drink or to take advantage of the many other services that the students provide, the NSU community is likely to find it at the new Shark Cage plaza. Each business aims to engage all members of the NSU community including students, faculty, and staff.
“Students went through specifically designed courses to aid them in getting their businesses started,” said Cheryl Babcock, director of the Shark Cage Program and Entrepreneurship faculty member in NSU’s Huizenga Business College. “From making Shark Pitches and Shark Funding Pitches to faculty members and entrepreneurs, students gained confidence in starting their on-campus businesses.”
Stacey Warm, a business administration major minoring in entrepreneurship and property management from Port Jefferson, New York, opened a protein shake business in fall 2018.
“I learned so much in the last year by running my own on-campus business,” she said. “I will continue the operations of Mako Me Fit this semester with the expansion and improvement of our menu.”
Anjali Gill, a junior dual-admit osteopathic medicine student majoring in health administration and minoring in entrepreneurship, just celebrated the grand opening of Natural Bowl, her açai bowls business and was very pleased with the initial outcome.
“I sold more than $600 in my first day of operation,” she said. “I will soon be able to repay my loan and start making a profit.”
This fall 13 scholars have celebrated their Grand Openings at the Shark Cage and have begun operating their businesses along with six returning enterprises from last year. “This is an enormous achievement for the students”, said Babcock. “Every year, 20 students are selected to be part of the program. By the end of 2020, these 19 businesses will shutter their operations and there will be an additional 16 businesses operating in the new plaza.”