UT and HSN create program for students

BY Indira Moosai

UT’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center on Oct. 6, announced they would begin enrollment into their newly launched American Dreams Academy, a program created in partnership with the Home Shopping Network (HSN); there are two planned so far, one at American University and one at UT.

The American Dreams Academy is a three-day program. The first two days are filled with curriculum such as workshops on what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and how to brand and market your product. On the third day, students have the opportunity to pitch their products and possibly be featured on HSN.

Well-known entrepreneurs, including Daymond John, businessman and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, are included in the program. He will be featured in a session the first morning, where he will give an interview and tell his story.

Rebecca White, director of the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, said that it was exciting to get to this point and work with such a reputable name. Recently, HSN was purchased by QVC, a longtime rival.

“This gives them an even bigger footprint,” White said. One of HSN’s vice presidents was invited to UT’s annual entrepreneurship expo last year and was so impressed with it, she called UT and asked to have a meeting about the American Dreams Academy.
“[HSN] found that over the years, a lot of entrepreneurs with products weren’t fully prepared to run companies,” said White. “They realized that there was some education needed to help these people do a better job of getting their products sourced, getting enough of their product to sell on HSN, and building a business around the products. So, they decided they wanted to add an educational component.”

The first American Dreams Academy will take place at the American University in Washington, D.C. White said, “the director of the entrepreneurship program there is a friend of mine, so I called her up and said would you be interested, and she said yes.”

Students selected will have to pay for their travel and accommodations expenses. White says that UT and HSN are working together to hold this program several times a year across different campuses around the country.

“We’re going to be offering [the American Dreams Academy] here in Tampa sometime in January or February. So it would be free at that time,” said White.

“This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs,” said Alana Ziegler, a freshman who is undecided.“I’m considering majoring in international business so I’d definitely love to go to the program when it comes to UT.”

Andrew Gilliland, junior business information technology major and founder of his company iSpyPens, said he is going to D.C. and possibly Tampa, too. “It’s really not just about the conference and pitching, but it’s about traveling and getting out there in front of new people, because there’s a lot of different cultures to experience outside of Tampa.”

White said that for any student who would like to learn more about how to build a business and get onto HSN, this is a program for them.

The application can be found online at americandreams.hsni.com/academy-landing/. It consists of describing the product or service you are working to develop’ and ‘describing your business plan, as well as background information. UT will select up to 100 students to go for each trip. Applications close on Oct. 25 at 11:59 p.m.

“You don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur, and you certainly don’t have to be an entrepreneurship major,” White said. “You can be any student that’s got something they’ve invented or want to invent to be eligible.”

You can reach Indira Moosai at indira.moosai@theminaretonline.com

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