Minnesota State University’s Integrated Business Experience program allows students to get a real-world entrepreneurial experience as well as gain insight on how they can kick start their future business.
United Prairie Bank Integrated Business Experience (IBE) teaches students to build a business, market products and make sales in a hands-on environment while receiving college credit.
The program lasts an entire semester and consists of four courses: Principles of Management (MGMT 230), Principles of Marketing (MRKT 210), Business Finance (FINA 362), and IBE practicum (BUS 397).
Students of any major are able to apply for the IBE program as long as they have already completed the course (ACCT 200) and have declared a major.
There are currently 52 students enrolled in the program this semester who have created three businesses.
One of those three businesses is Safe-T-Sentials, a business that “provides a sense of security with on-the-go safety products.” Their products consist of a safety kit keychain and cooler backpack. All proceeds will go to the YWCA Mankato, which is dedicated to “eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace.”
Hailey Budke, CEO of Safe-T-Sentials, says the program helped her gain an entrepreneurial mindset.
“Something this program has taught me is the value of teamwork and how to problem solve as we go through the process of starting a business. Also being able to create relationships with other students and the professors in the program is really valuable,” Budke said.
Since 2012, when the IBE program first started, all the proceeds made from businesses have been donated to a variety of charities. Over $88,000 has been donated since the beginning of the IBE program at MNSU, as many of the businesses have chosen Mankato-area charities.
Deieso Clothes was an IBE business created in fall semester 2020 that created hoodies and stickers. All of the proceeds went to Leisure Education for Extraordinary People, an organization serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Elias Righi, who’s role was finance agent for Deieso, said the program prepared him for life after MNSU.
“I was looking for some hands-on experience in the business world that would get me comfortable in a professional setting. I learned a lot of new things about myself and about business as I realized there is more to business than just a bunch of numbers. It takes a team of individuals that have the same goal to achieve big things,” Righi stated.
“I would recommend the IBE program to people that are looking for a real world experience. You are able to take classes that you need for your major while working with a team to make money for charity,” he added.
Shane Bowyer, who teaches the principles of management course in the IBE program, said his own experience running a business is highly beneficial when teaching.
“I’ve had some businesses in the past and being able to have those experiences and struggles and then sharing them in the classroom has been very beneficial, and gives the students a perspective from a person who’s lived it. Having that past experience has definitely helped me teach in this program,” Bowyer stated.
“The biggest thing students are learning from this program is that it takes a lot of teamwork and networking,” Bowyer continued, “It’s not as much about the idea of the business, but the execution and how well you put the process together to make it actually happen.”
Coming up is the Big Ideas Challenge 2 p.m. April 13. This is a competition that showcases innovative business ideas along with $19,000 in prizes to fund their business. All three divisions are open to current MNSU students and alumni within two years of graduating.
This year’s competition will be held virtually due to COVID-19 and can be streamed on YouTube.