When the School of Business faculty and administration rolled out the Entrepreneurship Fellows program idea in 2011, they were intent on evolving the model of entrepreneurship teaching and learning to provide an atypical undergraduate business education to a small group of students. Unlike other new academic programs, this educational startup required financial backing to fund scholarships and new teaching models.
It was a big ask, and fortunately for UB, Carole Ratcliffe of the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, and Jim Wright, the Foundation’s executive director, liked the idea.The Ratcliffe Foundation had similar relationships with other Maryland programs, and they were looking for a way to work with the University of Baltimore. They liked the Entrepreneurship Fellows idea so much that they decided to provide $550,000 in funding to get it started. The School accepted its first group of students in fall 2013.
During the spring 2015 semester, the next milestone was hit: the program’s first graduates. This group of five completed the Entrepreneurship Fellows requirements, while two of the original members earned their B.S. in Business Administration degrees as well.
“This program has changed my life forever,” said Alex Greif, B.S. ’15. “It has given me unimaginable insight into the world of entrepreneurship. There are some things in life that you need to go through to understand. For me it has also been an amazing experience to go through this journey with people older than me and that have grown up in a much different environment than me.”
While in the program, Greif launched Echo Trades, a safer and more secure marketplace app for college students. The app allows students to buy and sell items like textbooks, electronics, furniture, etc. As of May, the app is available to students at UB; Towson University; the University of Maryland, College Park; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Download it for iPhone or Android.
Here's more about the others in the First Cohort.
- Jacob Harryman, B.S. ’15 is preparing to launch Ally Homes, online company that will help consumers make better decisions about their home improvement projects.
- Emily Kim launched Amoment, an online fashion website and is currently preparing to launch a local restaurant.
- Asad Rizvi, joined Echo Trade alongside Greif and the other founders. Prior to joining Echo Trades, he helped launch two other mobile apps.
- Chris Wilson, is the owner of Barclay Investment Corporation, a mission-oriented business focused on the construction trades. His employees come from disadvantaged communities where sustained employment is tough to find and he gives them a chance to earn a fair wage and develop skills. He is frequently asked for media interviews and to deliver keynote speeches.