Guest Blogger, Dr. Lori Kiyatkin

This blog series “Partnerships Across Campus” gives you — our partners, collaborators, and clients — an inside perspective on how the professional outreach staff within TU’s applied research and outreach centers work and collaborate with Towson University faculty.

I joined the advisory board of the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator during the summer of 2010.  As a board member, I have had opportunities to collaborate in many fruitful ways with TowsonGlobal’s staff, supporters, and incubated companies.

During the last three years, I have participated in two major strategic planning initiatives to refine the incubator’s vision, mission, and objectives to match the needs of the university and local community.  As an outgrowth of these planning initiatives during the last three years, TowsonGlobal incubated nine new entrepreneurial ventures, graduated three companies, launched the Entrepreneurs Portal, advised numerous entrepreneurs seeking advice, and increased its scope to introduce the annual TowsonGlobal Business Plan Competition.

In recent years, TowsonGlobal has grown to reach full occupancy and support multiple new startup businesses while simultaneously serving as a repository of business knowledge and resources for Towson faculty, students, and local entrepreneurs.  Amid this growth, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor two promising local companies – My Hopeful Journey and Chesapeake Compensation Solutions.  My Hopeful Journey, one of the first business plan competition winners, has an interesting business concept  – it offers web-based tracking services to women that are trying to conceive.  Chesapeake Compensation Solutions, which graduated from the incubator last spring, provides high level compensation review, benchmarking and strategy services.

As a faculty member in the department of management teaching courses on strategy and entrepreneurship, I benefit greatly from the access that board membership gives me to these new, exciting, local entrepreneurs and the myriad resources and initiatives hosted by TowsonGlobal.  In my teaching, I often refer to case examples from TowsonGlobal’s incubated companies.  Students especially like hearing about these local, real-world new companies, and my experiences with TowsonGlobal help me bring textbook concepts to life in the classroom.  Many students choose to seek out internships with TowsonGlobal and the incubated companies.

For me, the most exciting part about my interactions with TowsonGlobal is the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, budding entrepreneurs.  The conversations I’ve had with members of the TowsonGlobal community have prompted questions that I explore in the classroom and in my own research.

Lori at the March 27, 2012, Celebration of Entrepreneurial Success/Graduation

I also enjoy participating as a round-one judge in the business plan competitions, helping to select the finalists.  All contestants receive feedback on their plans in round one, regardless of whether their plan is selected to progress to the finals.  The competition is such a fantastic learning opportunity that I give my students extra credit for attending the pre-competition workshops that are hosted by TowsonGlobal and for submitting plans to the competition.  The momentum surrounding this event grows each year as more and more local entrepreneurs present truly exciting business ideas.

In sum, I encourage you to check out the resources and initiatives of TowsonGlobal!  We are fortunate to have such a fantastic organization promoting entrepreneurship right here on our campus.