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        Entrepreneurship, Student

        Students learn keys to digital entrepreneurial success

        January 11, 2024 By Harbert College

        All News


        Harbert College of Business’ new innovative course gives Auburn students edge on digitalization trends.

        enfb4950 students with vr at icr lab

        Students in the ENFB 4950 class  learned about using virtual reality for employee training at the campus Innovation & Research Commons in Oct. 2023.

        Changing technologies often provide entrepreneurial opportunities. Keeping up with these trends, however, can involve watching multiple developments across numerous industries and then trying to determine if or how these trends might lead to a new product or provide the chance to launch a new business. In fall 2023, The Harbert College of Business offered an innovative class, ENFB 4950: Seminar in Digital Entrepreneurship, that focused specifically on helping students navigate these issues.

        Designed as a senior-level “current events” course and offered by the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, the class focused on how shifting businesses from physical to digital operations can launch the entrepreneurship process. Students examined digitalization issues, completed multiple projects, and interacted with guest speakers, who discussed topics ranging from artificial intelligence to digital human resource management to cryptocurrencies.

        “We were able to draw from the tremendous resources we have both on Auburn’s campus as well as through the generosity and expertise of our alumni network to provide students with cutting edge knowledge about digitalization trends,” said Professor Franz Lohrke, Lowder Eminent Scholar, who taught the course last fall.

        “For example, students visited the Library’s Innovation and Resource Commons (I&RC) Makerspace to design and create 3D printed products as well as experience employee training using virtual reality,” he added. “Our guest speakers also provided students with insights into how the digitalization is changing management, marketing, and financial processes in their companies.”

        "My favorite project was the SEO one where we learned how to build a website and track its traffic data. That is a skill that I feel any entrepreneur should know.”

        —Isaiah Eager, Auburn student who took ENFB 4950: Seminar in Digital Entrepreneurship course

        Learning by doing

        Students completed multiple projects throughout the semester to reinforce what they were learning. Along with 3D printing products, they also set up a website (or gained access to one like at their parents’ business) to see how their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts affected website traffic during the semester.

        In November, they applied their knowledge about digital fundraising to run crowdfunding campaigns for causes ranging from the Auburn Campus Food Pantry to veterans’ assistance to rainforest preservation.

        Some even used the project as an avenue to launch or expand their own startups. Collectively, students raised over $5,800 from more than 100 donors, and some campaigns remain on-going.

        Matt Nordby teaching

        Auburn College of Liberal Arts alumnus (and Business minor) Matt Nordby, managing partner of Flume Ventures, discussed private equity and career management issues with the ENFB 4950 class in October 2023.

        Learning from those with expertise

        Guest speakers included several Auburn staff, alumni, and other Auburn Family members who talked with students about multiple digitalization issues. Topics and speakers included:

        • Employee upskilling and using artificial intelligence in hiring - Delphine Carter, founder and CEO of Boulo Solutions.
        • Digital talent acquisition and development - Sunny Horne, senior technical product manager at Amazon.
        • Employee training using virtual reality - Darryl Trousdale, senior manager at Torch Advanced VIZLAB and co-founder of SIMVANA VR Anesthesia.
        • Search engine optimization - Scott McGlon, entrepreneur-in-residence at Auburn University New Venture Accelerator.
        • Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and social entrepreneurship - Justin Poiroux, co-founder and CTO of Yellow Card Financial.
        • Digitalization and private equity trends – Matthew Nordby, managing partner at Flume Ventures.

        “We were pleased with the enthusiastic response to this class, particularly given it was our first time offering it,” said Professor Christopher Reutzel, Chair of the Management and Entrepreneurship Department. “Students from three different Colleges on campus, Business, Engineering, and Liberal Arts, enrolled in the class, which brought a wide variety of viewpoints to class discussions. Given the continuing importance of digital trends to entrepreneurship, we’re planning to offer the course again soon.”

        When asked about his ENFB 4950 experience, Isaiah Eager, a December 2023 Harbert College of Business graduate said, “Out of all the classes I have taken, ENFB 4950 was unlike any other. My fear going into the class, because it was a ‘seminar,’ was I’d have to talk about subjects that really didn't interest me.

        “My fear turned into quite the opposite. I had a great time learning about issues that were both interesting and should be applicable to my success as an entrepreneur in the future. My favorite project was the SEO one where we learned how to build a website and track its traffic data. That is a skill that I feel any entrepreneur should know.”


        Learn more about the Lowder Center for Family Business and Entrepreneurship.

        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.