A student entrepreneur stumbles upon a business idea and invests his knowledge, skills and resources to benefit from the opportunity. Even before the dot-com frenzy took effect, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and a line of other tech stars dropped out of colleges and started a trendy path to young entrepreneurs demonstrating them the path towards great success through business. Not falling in line with this trend, Eric Reich and Michael Weisman desisted jumping into the scary world of venture capitalism. Instead, these childhood friends together got enrolled in the MBA program offered by UB. They had the privilege of winning the most coveted entrepreneurial award from the university. Paving their own road to success, they could successfully end up creating an enterprise worth $40 million.
Striking a difference from the trend of dropping out of colleges, Reich said, “We like to refer to it as ‘dropping in”. Reich and Weisman spent limitless hours inside and outside their classrooms with the professors and administrators at the UB in order to refine their business plan. In 2001, they won UB’s first and the most prestigious Henry A. Panasci Jr. entrepreneurship award for innovating and establishing a data-centric company to assist colleges and universities decide on the best practices in allocating resources, enrol and retain students, and enhance student performance.
Very interestingly, Reich and Weisman spent the $25,000 cash prize they received to give rise to a class project called StudentVoice which became one among the Western New York’s most successful start-ups. Reich stated, “We received a lot of support and assistance from the UB community that helped us build early confidence and momentum”. Operating campus labs, today their venture has over $10 million annual sales and over 650 higher education clients. Owing to years of persistent perspiration, they could significantly raise the worth of the company and Higher One Holdings, Connecticut acquired Campus Labs paying more than $40 million.