The Value of a Transparent Point of View

Guest speakers add value to our courses through sharing their experiences with students. Many accomplished entrepreneurs take time out of their busy schedules to enhance the teaching and learning that occurs in Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation courses.  During the pandemic, many of our instructors continued this practice online, which allowed them to engage with experts all over the world. More recently, many speakers have returned to campus, but having the online option has opened up the possibility to engage with entrepreneurs and alumni of the program who live all over the world.  

Heather Howard (top left), Riley Carlson (right), James Morris (bottom left)

Riley Carlson is currently enrolled in ENTR 48000: Consulting for Emerging Enterprises. This course completes his requirements for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and he finds it very beneficial for his future endeavors. While his core entrepreneurship courses also included guest speakers, a perk of ENTR 48000 is that the speakers come from a wider variety of backgrounds and industries. He also appreciates that they not only share their positive experiences and successes, but also their weaknesses and failures. The transparency of the guest speakers has helped him visualize his future and decisions he might make. 

James Morris, another ENTR 48000 student, shares, “Throughout the semester the thing that I’ve most appreciated about our guest speakers is their vulnerability and willingness to talk about their failures. We’ve had many very accomplished entrepreneurs come and speak to us, and most have spent their time describing their humble beginnings rather than their successes. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I really appreciate this. I’ve received a lot of great relevant advice that I’ll apply early in my career.

The guest speaker who stood out most to Riley and James is Heather Howard, a founder of Escape Velocity. Heather is also an Associate Professor of Library Science and Business Information Specialist at Purdue.  Heather and her husband, Jason Behenna, opened Escape Velocity Brewing right before the start of the pandemic. Needless to say, they quickly had to shift to adapt, much like many other local bars and restaurants. This involved preparing Growlers to Go for their customers. While they offered a full vegetarian menu to patrons, this was put on pause.  Heather shared the importance of  choosing a good location for your business, not only for demographics but also logistics.  She said that for a brewery it is essential to have a  good connection to water lines and a great draining system. They also needed a location that was big enough to fit large tanks needed for brewing. She also shared the time commitment involved in being a brewmaster and entrepreneur. 

Riley and James valued Heather’s  transparency. James states, “What was most inspiring about her, is that she was able to create this beautiful business without any prior experience in the industry. Through resourcefulness and problem solving, she did everything in her power to ensure that Escape Velocity Brewing was successful against the odds. To me, she is a great poster child for with hard work, you can accomplish what you set out to do.