The skill of starting from scratch
Transforming ambitious students into entrepreneurs
A bold, yet practical vision. An evolving set of skills. The drive, and confidence, to succeed. These are among the assets of an entrepreneur; and there are myriad opportunities to acquire and develop them at Drake University.
Brandon Clark, LW’10, has had the ambition required to start his own business — or businesses — for years. At Drake Law School, he learned the skills.
“Law school taught me to work from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and it taught me research techniques that help me find any information that I need,” Clark says.
After graduation Clark started Clark Law Firm, where he works full-time as a music lawyer for more than a dozen Midwestern bands and record companies. The firm combines his love of rock music, and history of a bassist in a rock band, with his legal education. (Juice, a lifestyle publication produced by The Des Moines Register, gave plenty of details here).
He wrote the business plan for another start-up, RecycleMe Iowa, over two weeks in a study room at Drake Law School in April 2010. The company provides doorstep recycling services for apartments, condos and small businesses. Much of the starting budget for the company, which has four employees, came from grants he drafted and submitted while at Drake.
The law firm and RecycleMe Iowa share a bustling office in downtown Des Moines. But Clark isn’t satisfied, yet. This summer, while maintaining his previous ventures, he plans to begin formally managing rock bands through a new project called BrandOne Music.
His Drake education taught him the endurance and tenacity to face numerous challenges associated with growing and evolving business efforts.
“My success is based on the skills and experience I already had in the music industry combined with the knowledge, work habits and education I gained at Drake law school,” Clark says.
Students at Drake learn entrepreneurial skills and spirit in a multitude of formal and informal ways, regardless of what they study. The University offers a robust major in entrepreneurial management — but faculty members in numerous areas of study recognize the need for business savvy.
For example: Health sciences majors are required to take an entrepreneurship course, an entrepreneurship minor is open to students from all fields of study and the Buchanan Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers students and alumni advice on their business-related ideas.
The overarching goal is to give students the confidence and skill-set required to accomplish their goals.
“The ultimate success for the entrepreneurship effort at Drake is breaking down the inhibiting barriers for anyone on campus who has a dream, whether they have that dream now or years from now,” says Tom Swartwood, assistant director of the Buchanan Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Drake University. “We can help them transform their vision into a reality.”
Meg Fisher, BN’09, came to Drake with a business idea that she’d had since she was 16 years old. She worked on the business plan while studying at Drake and hammered out the final details in a senior-year course with Swartwood.
Fisher now owns and operates Lincoln&Lexi, a line of children’s clothing and accessories. Her business plan for Lincoln&Lexi took first place at the Pappajohn New Venture Business Plan Competition in Mason City, IA, in March 2010.
Fisher’s Drake education has helped her tackle new challenges and harness opportunities for her business, including the implementation of online sales and opening of a sales kiosk at West Des Moines’ Jordan Creek Mall in February.
“Drake gave me the confidence to go into any business meeting and know the right questions to ask and the best way to answer even the most difficult questions,” Fisher says. “A business person needs to be knowledgeable, confident and flexible, and Drake taught me to be all of those.”
— Aaron Jaco, AS, JO’07