College of DuPage’s E2 Emerging Entrepreneurs program is supporting emerging entrepreneurs through the College’s Maker Market. Designed to abide by social distancing practices while still providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs to discuss and sell their wares, this year’s market has been transitioned to a virtual format. The market runs through the end of July.
Through the market, current COD students and alumni are promoting and selling a broad range of products and services, including artwork, baked goods, fashion and beauty services, and web design. The new format includes the Meet the Maker video series featuring student entrepreneur interviews with COD Associate Professor of Business Peter James.
“The interviews worked out great,” he said. “At the very least, they provide a great learning experience as well as a quick opportunity for potential customers to watch and support the participants.”
COD Business and Applied Technology Program Support Specialist Bev Carlson said continuing with the market despite the COVID-19 lockdown grew from a commitment to students.
“It is important to give the applicants that had already signed up a way to showcase their business in some way, shape or form,” she said. “We felt we owed at least some sort of an experience. There were a lot of creative things already being done at the College to showcase the good work of our students. This year’s virtual market was just another way to do that.”
Carlson said the goal of the market is to provide student entrepreneurs with an opportunity to promote their businesses, gain experience and make contacts.
“The market provides great opportunities for the participants,” she said. “An entrepreneur or someone with business experience or knowledge might reach out and provide them with some helpful or insightful advice,” she said. “This is what I see happening organically at the live Maker Market. I love to see the students making sales, but it's even more exciting when they are making connections and receiving input that could change the way they do business or inspire a new idea.”
According to James, the market’s change in format may inform how the program approaches the event moving forward.
“The COD Maker Market is only in its third year,” he said. “Shifting online in this interview format is something that we will consider incorporating when we go back to the regular format, because this is another promotion avenue for our participants. I encourage everyone to watch, support and perhaps purchase goods from these relatively new business owners.”
The E2 Emerging Entrepreneurs Mentorship Program at College of DuPage is designed for students in any discipline with an entrepreneurial spirit, who recognize an emerging demand and have the determination to pursue it. Students in the program are mentored by a group of entrepreneurs that will result in a business plan and a recording of their own professional business message, as well as valuable tools gained from workshops and new business contacts.