BHSU business students create start-up companies, donate profits to local charities

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, December 29, 2015/Categories: 2015

Black Hills State University students created nine small businesses as part of Jeff Wehrung's small business management class. The businesses raised more than $2,000. All the proceeds were donated to Black Hills charities.

Black Hills State University students completing small business management courses put their classroom knowledge to use to help local charities in the Black Hills. And with the help of a new donation from BHSU alum Jim Moravec, students will be able to continue the hands-on project at a larger scale.

Nine student groups built their own small business companies. Run by a student CEO, the students handled everything from creative development, marketing and accounting. The proceeds, which were more than $2,000, were given to local charities. Jeff Wehrung, assistant professor of management at BHSU, had more than 50 students enrolled in the courses held in Spearfish and at BHSU-Rapid City.

"This gives them a hands-on opportunity to experiment and see what they need to know to start and run a business," Wehrung said. "We just throw them in."   

This is the second year Wehrung has used this curriculum in his small business management courses. Students have had to raise their own funds to start the business, but thanks to a new donation from BHSU alum Jim Moravec, '79, and his wife Laura, students will be able to petition for larger funds to start their businesses in the future. The Moravec's established the Jim and Laura Moravec Entrepreneurial Activities Fund to help students increase their business knowledge and complete these projects on a larger scale.

The businesses included Touch of Relief, Wildlife Warriors, Turkey Warrior Obstacle Course, Bottles of Wishes, RackStar, LiveWire Survival, FitCal and Club MMXV.

Wehrung noted all the businesses had exceptional business strategies, noting the success of Touch of Relief, which raised more than $700 for breast cancer research. Touch of Relief offered massages during midterm week at BHSU. They group also partnered with other small businesses during their event to increase profits.

Club MMXV was a night club that opened in downtown Rapid City for one night. Wehrung was impressed with the group's marketing technique, which included filming their own commercial. The advertisement was to be aired in the Rapid City area, but ended up being broadcast across the state.

"All these projects were awesome," Wehrung said. "It's really neat because it's such a mix of students. The marketing material is unbelievable."

Wehrung credits the mix of students in his small business management class for the great success.

"You have business students who help with accounting and money management and corporate communication students who are just unbelievable with the advertising and marketing," he said.

Wehrung said he enjoyed watching the students pull concepts from the class and applying them to their business strategy.

"This course is not only teaching them how to successfully open a business, but also learn the small mistakes you can make," he said. "It's not always going to work perfectly, but this is how I can help them learn how to not make those mistakes when they enter the field."
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