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        Entrepreneurship, Student

        Harbert, NVA open doors for more women to become entrepreneurs

        October 24, 2023 By Troy Turner

        All News


        Nearly 100 Auburn University students were told at a recent on-campus event promoting opportunities for women in entrepreneurship that the New Venture Accelerator (NVA) is ready to help, offering them a variety of expertise, training, office space and mentorship.

        University officials also announced the creation of a Women’s Entrepreneur Center to emphasize the program’s goals of encouraging more women to explore entrepreneurship.

        The Oct. 17 NVA-hosted event encouraged more female students to develop or actively pursue entrepreneurship ideas they might have, and to consider careers in business. It also showcased the various ways how the NVA program can help students.

        Jennifer Nay speaking at podium

        Jennifer Nay, entrepreneur-in-residence at the New Venture Accelerator, organized the Oct. 17 event that encouraged more women to pursue entrepreneurship.

        The NVA is a program jointly managed by Auburn’s Harbert College of Business and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation to help aspiring business owners get their start. It is located off Devall Drive and includes, in addition to office space, various workshops and a team of entrepreneurs-in-residence who share real-world experience for the benefit of Auburn students, faculty and the local community through coaching, counseling and mentoring.

        “The time has never been better to become a female entrepreneur,” Jennifer Nay, an entrepreneur-in-residence and event organizer, told the audience of mostly female students that seemed excited to learn more.

        “The level of creative freedom that is afforded to female entrepreneurs is second to none,” she said of Auburn’s NVA and the business curriculum available through Harbert, including top-level course work and the numerous opportunities for hands-on experience under the watchful eyes of mentors.

        “And within that space, the Women’s Entrepreneur Center is just now coming to life,” she announced. “It will help teach every aspect of starting and building a business... We provide work space for starters...and competitions.

        “We understand it can be intimidating to start your own business,” she said, “but with all we have available to help you at the New Venture Accelerator, I encourage you to explore the opportunities you have available to you.”

        The event included a stirring example of trials and success shared by keynote speaker Stacy Brown, the female founder of the Chicken Salad Chick restaurant franchise, which has grown from humble beginnings in Auburn to more than 240 stores in 18 states.

        Stacy Brown speaking at podium

        Stacy Brown, founder of the Chicken Salad Chick franchise, shared her entrepreneurial journey with the participants.

        Brown echoed Nay’s encouragement as she addressed the attentive audience.

        “I was blown away just entering this facility and seeing everything. It is not what I was expecting,” she said. “You have available to you such wonderful resources. You really need to take advantage.”

        Brown shared the sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking background behind the creation of the Chicken Salad Chick franchise and, more recently, a new restaurant-experience venue she and her husband created in Opelika named Botanic.

        “Entrepreneurship is not easy. And if the reward you’re looking for is money, give up now,” Brown warned. “It has to be something you love. If you have a true passion for something, the drive to make it work...the belief you can reach your goal...and if you welcome the advice... then I welcome you to a world” filled with rewards and “will teach you more about your own strength than you could ever imagine.

        “If you have an engine inside you that makes you want to run through a wall,” she said, “then you might have a chance...And here, you have a chance, with all the resources you have available to you. Y’all have some amazing things at your fingertips here that are begging you to take advantage.”

        Self-confidence and a positive approach also are a must, she said.

        “If you look for flaws and issues, you will find them, because they are there,” she said. “Or, if you look for the good, you will find it. Let yourself become inspired by all the greatness around you. You will be inspired, because there is greatness in you.”

        The event provided a networking opportunity filled with lively conversation while attendees enjoyed free food and beverage from several vendors who already have found their own success after receiving support and coaching from the New Venture Accelerator.


        Learn more about the New Venture Accelerator, or for more information on its programs, contact Jennifer Nay at

        Learn more about the entrepreneurship opportunities and coursework through the Harbert College of Business.

        The Harbert College of Business which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert's transformational naming gift, is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice across business disciplines. The largest college on Auburn's campus, Harbert enrolls more than 6,900 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.