Friday, August 30, 2013

Meet Michael Luchies of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization

Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur, freelance journalist, and passionate supporter of everything entrepreneurship. Michael is National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO), and the Interview Editor for Find him on Twitter: @MichaelLuchies.

CEO is the premier entrepreneurship network with chapters on university campuses across North America and beyond. CEO currently supports entrepreneurship on over 240 chapters in over 43 states. CEO's mission is to inform, support, and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation. With a diverse entrepreneurial community and global network, CEO provides student entrepreneurs with opportunities, events, chapter activities, and conferences to help start businesses. The highlight of the year is the annual National Conference hosted each fall.

Michael is hard at work getting the word out about the 2013 CEO National Conference. Here's a video about the event:

1. How and when did the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization get started?

CEO was started in the early 1980s as a gathering among entrepreneurially minded students in the Chicago area. The initial meeting had around 20 attendees. In 1997, CEO became a 501 (3)c nonprofit organization, and expanded to serve colleges and universities through on-campus student operated chapters.

CEO now has over 230 chapters, and the CEO National Conference is attended by nearly 1,400 students and entrepreneurs each year. The 2013 CEO National Conference will be held on October 31 – November 2 in Chicago.

The focus of the organization is on venture creation and experiential learning. We want young people to get their hands dirty and to get real experience while creating businesses.

2. What can attendees expect to learn at your upcoming National Conference in November?

Around 70 entrepreneurs will host workshops, share their stories, and work with students to assist them with their business ideas and ventures. Sessions will be held on a wide variety of entrepreneurial topics. Topics covered will include self-employment in the arts, technology, startups, scaling a business, business ethics, executing on an idea, how to create and present an elevator pitch, and more.

Outside of the sessions hosted by entrepreneurs, the CEO National Conference is home to the National Elevator Pitch Competition, which allows 60 young entrepreneurs to share their businesses and ideas for a chance at national recognition and cash prizes. There are also an unlimited amount of networking opportunities to meet students from other schools, mentor rooms, and social events. The learning possibilities at the event are endless.

3. Why is entrepreneurship on the rise, in your opinion?

That's a great question. Entrepreneurship is on the rise due to the availability and affordability of technology, and the shift in the economy over the past decade and a half. Being an entrepreneur is easier than ever, and the Millenial generation has grown up with the internet. Anyone can start a blog or a website in a day for free. There are countless resources available to those who want to start a business and being a young entrepreneur is a more accepted career path than it once was.

4. What has been your own experience as an entrepreneur, and what motivates you to share your experience with young entrepreneurs?

I started my first small e-commerce website in 2007 after having enough of the corporate world. I eventually quit my job to go back to school, where I pursued a degree in entrepreneurship. Although I have yet to launch a highly successful company, I wouldn't trade my experiences and passion for small business for anything. I am currently working on several projects that I hope to launch in the near future.

I love sharing experiences with others because I love learning. That may seem like an odd statement, but teaching others is a great way of enhancing your own abilities while also learning what other people have to offer you. I made many mistakes as an aspiring young entrepreneur, and I want to help share my experiences in hopes of saving others from making the same mistakes I made.

5. For a person of any age with an interest in entrepreneurship, what do you recommend as some ways to figure out if an idea for an indie business has potential for success?

As the Interview Editor for Under30CEO, and also through working with many successful entrepreneurs with CEO, I am told time and time again to just start something! Test your idea at a basic level and start getting feedback. You often never know until you try. I will give one quick example of a business idea and how I would recommend someone begin to test to see if the idea is worth pursuing.

Gluten-Free Bakery

  • Organize a very basic business strategy (1 page max) of what you would want your gluten-free bakery to be in the future. This will help you keep your goals in mind while testing your idea.
  • Concurrently, work on perfecting one recipe while contacting people ahead of time and telling them about your new venture and what you are working on. You want to speak with people who you believe would be your targeted clients in the future. Ask for their help in taste testing your recipe once you feel it has been perfected.
  • Give taste tests and provide them with surveys about your product, and the future business. Collect as much information as possible to help you get to the next step. Ask everything, including what they would pay for the item, how often they would come, if they know people who would like to try your goods for free, etc.
  • Going about it in this manner should bring you closer to your potential clients while building excitement and gaining critical feedback on your business idea and your baked good.
  • The next step is starting to price and sell your item while working on additional recipes based on the feedback of your future customers.

Thanks, Michael!

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