A Venture for Students … by a Student
Evan Kirsch got to show off his business start-up concept to the perfect audience. As a result, he earned a place in one of the nation’s leading entrepreneurship programs.
Now a senior in the Bloch School of Management’s E-Scholars program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kirsch has started a business that will fulfill his purpose – help others navigate the challenge between high school and college, as well as between college and career.
Kirsch was encouraged to participate in the program because of his insight into how a business should work. Also, the leaders of the program saw him in action – explaining and promoting his business at the 2012 Regnier Family Foundations/Bank of Blue Valley Venture Creation Challenge where he was one of the 2012 top winners.
“We are thrilled to have Evan in the current E-Scholar class. Evan’s idea has huge potential, and he has shown the initiative and drive needed to make his vision a reality,” said Mark Parry, Ph.D., director of the E-Scholars Program.
In the 2011 and 2012 academic year, a total of 67 students graduated from the Regnier Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s E-Scholars program; the program also launched 51 ventures. At the beginning of 2012-2013, 72 E-Scholars were enrolled in the program, representing 58 ventures.
The E-Scholars program is designed to prepare “brilliant and promising entrepreneurs” with the skills needed to launch a sustainable and scalable venture. The program grows each year – offering hope and, more importantly, resources to the students who are accepted into the program.
Kirsch’s company, called FolioBoy, helps students design online portfolios and share them with friends, colleges and employers. They can upload, create and publish, and they can share their work through social media and hard-copy editions of their portfolios. According to Kirsch, he is filling a need in a novel way.
“High schools seniors have the tendency to be concerned about being accepted to the college of their choice. This program lowers the risk and worry resulting from the uncertainty in that process. And, college seniors have essentially been prepped for a headache in the job market because it is anything but certain. FolioBoy offers them ‘market placement security’ by raising awareness of their talents and abilities.”
Both resume and portfolio services are offered for the high school senior. Eventually, students will be offered advice on the best or most appropriate colleges. College students will receive additional tools to prepare them for the job market.
The current revenue model is set up for individual students upgrading to a premium account, giving them a “one up” over other students competing for the same college, the same internship or the same job.
“My venture is quite sustainable,” said Kirsch. “There are more than 4.5 million graduating high school, college-bound seniors, and this program will work for all majors. I plan to visit college campuses and present the program. Any student can log on to FolioBoy to sign up for an account.”
The hardback edition of their portfolio is useful as a college acceptance tool, a keepsake or as an interviewing tool. It contains pictures, documentation, letters of recommendation, awards and statistics of their latest achievements.
Another opportunity recently presented itself to Kirsch – three days with Seth Godin, the internet marketer, entrepreneur, author and public speaker, and 19 other entrepreneurs in New York.
Godin promised to teach topics that included an understanding of basic storytelling, the realities of marketing online and the new economics of the connection economy, and he did. He also had the group work on a collaborative project – write a book in one hour, including designing the book cover. It was then posted on Godin’s blog, with more than 50,000 unique visitors per month.
Kirsch described Godin as a “brilliant, generous man” for the knowledge and the time he gave so freely. He also had wonderful words for the Bloch School.
“I love the IEI program. It feels like I found a home here, and the teachers are phenomenal,” Kirsch said. “It comes close to cutting-edge and offers great interaction with the faculty. It’s been a pleasure.”