‘The Foundry' giving entrepreneurs support in getting businesses started

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SALT LAKE CITY -- This month's cover story in INC. magazine says "Bring on the Entrepreneurs!" The article says they will create thousands of new companies and millions of new jobs in the future.

Utah has had a vibrant entrepreneurial movement for years, and it's getting better.

At the Sugar House Farmer's Market, business at Adam Kaslikowski's META Restaurant booth is typically brisk. His business model is fast food that's good for you.

"Fast food is just so unhealthy for you, so I decided to solve the problem for myself and make my own healthy restaurant," Kaslikowski says.

Travis Corrigan will help you design a custom made suit with a mouse click -- single-breasted or double, six buttons or four, two pockets or three. When it's done, he has a company in Switzerland that makes the suit within a couple of weeks.

Kaslikowski and Corrigan's companies are up and running thanks in part to The Foundry -- a new program at the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

What is... The Foundry?
The Eccles School of Business's The Foundry, is a program created to foster economic development in Utah through a rigorous entrepreneurial practicum. The Foundry, which provides participants hands-on business training, currently consists of 49 entrepreneurs in 15 startup companies founded and run by students in the program. It's purpose is to accelerate regional economic growth by developing principled, lifelong entrepreneurs capable of creating innovative, fundamentally sound companies.

The Foundry uses a peer-based or "team" approach, where students meet regularly to brainstorm and help each other with various issues as they start up their individual companies.

"They talk about common problems, and they learn to ask for help, and they learn to pose questions, and they benefit from the group feedback," says William Schulze, chairman of the University of Utah's Department of Management.

The mission of the organization is to create "battle-ready" entrepreneurs -- that is, they know how to run a business before it's up and running.

"These students are responsible for each other's learning," Schulze says. "They learn to help each other out. Because they have a team to fall back on, they're not operating alone when they try to launch their companies."

The Foundry got going just two months ago, and already these students have started 16 businesses that are making money.

"I've gained more new clients and more new contracts and had better success just through word of mouth since I've been working with The Foundry, because my skills have improved," says Yohauna Allart, president of Premier Tax & Accounting.

"That's really what The Foundry is all about -- not just about starting just our company, but created this brotherly love to help each other out," says Travis Corrigan, president of Dash & Cooper.

Would I still be doing this without The Foundry? Yes, but I would have made a lot more mistakes," Kaslikowski says.

The Foundry is open to students at all universities, as well as to non-students who are trying to improve their management skills. The current group has 49 participants, and more businesses will no doubt be launched in the near future.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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Keith McCord


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