Entrepreneurial Group Brings In Mix Of Students

Carrie Porter

By Carrie PorterThe Daily Northwestern

InNUvation, a growing student-run organization, is excited about the future and means business.

The club aims to bring together students from various schools within Northwestern to brainstorm business plans. Meredith Wilson, the marketing director for InNUvation, said the entrepreneurship and innovation club is a cross-disciplinary endeavor.

“We are trying to make it more inclusive across the school, as there are few groups that include the whole campus,” said Wilson, a second-year Kellogg student.

InNUvation founder Sam Shank created the organization in 2003 to form connections with other future student entrepreneurs.

“If you look at the most successful companies, they are not led by one person but by a team,” he said.

Members emphasize the need for collaboration across industries in today’s globalized world.

“You’ve got to have people from a bunch of different disciplines to make things happen,” said Cooper Marcus, former InNUvation president. “You need people who understand money, but you also need people who understand people. The exciting thing about InNUvation is that it brings together different experts from across campus.”

Since their time with InNUvation, both Shank and Marcus have put their skills to work.

Shank recently sold his company, TravelPost, which offered hotel reviews through its Web site.

Marcus graduated from Kellogg in 2005 and is now the CEO of Spark Parking, a parking management services company. He developed the business plan with Kellogg classmates before it was officially incorporated in the fall of 2005.

Both attribute the success of their business endeavors in part to InNUvation.

“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t collaborated with two computer science undergraduates to build the plan and Web site,” Shank said of Travel Post.

Today the organization is taking steps to increase its presence on campus.

“We are putting on programs throughout the year to promote entrepreneurship and educate on what it means to be (an entrepreneur),” said Kenny Kaiser, the undergraduate chapter president.

The McCormick sophomore said the group hosts workshops and student panels, and brings speakers to campus. Speakers have ranged from executives in the biotechnology industry to the founder of the Web site HOTorNOT.com.

Prof. William White has taught Engineering Entrepreneurship for five years and said class enrollment has remained high.

Shank also emphasized the value of a new outlook for the evolving business environment.

“In the 21st century, it is up to individuals to take the bull by its horns and be entrepreneurs in their own careers,” he said. “The era of working for one company for an entire career is gone.”

Reach Carrie Porter at [email protected]