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* Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

April 25, 2007

Students present business plans to high-tech entrepreneurs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Approximately 40 students from all disciplines will present their final business plans Thursday (April 26) to successful entrepreneurs after participating in a class that completes their work for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. 

Judges include course instructor and entrepreneur Scott Jones, founder and CEO of ChaCha, an Internet search engine that gives users the option of real-time human contact, based in Carmel, Ind.; Rod Canion, co-founder and former chief executive officer of Compaq Computer Corp.; and Jack Gill, an inventor, entrepreneur and venture capitalist from Houston who specializes in high-technology start-up companies.

The final entrepreneurship class is the last in a series of five, three-credit courses and related experiential programs in which students learn the theory and practice related to starting and running new business ventures.

"The class has been living the start-up experience through Scott Jones, who has been teaching the class in the midst of launching his own search engine," said Nathalie Duval-Couetil, associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship where the certificate is offered. 

"During the first week, the class watched him on CNBC talking about the $6 million he had just raised in capital from investors. Since then, students have been working hard on their own business plans and have been fortunate to meet a number of high-powered entrepreneurs whom Scott has brought to Purdue. Students have been sitting on the edge of their seats through this experience."

Launched in September 2006, ChaCha is a search engine that offers two different search options - one with a human guide who assists you in real-time via an instant-message chat and one without a guide resulting in immediate search results. ChaCha guides are paid for their time assisting users through an instant-payment system that Jones invented.

Students will be presenting proposals for similar Internet businesses, such as a place where job applicants can be interviewed and a site that allows users to find and compare prices on auto parts. Other business plans include the use of a personal digital assistant that will allow medical providers to network with each other, patients and pharmacies, and a social network that allows users to create and personalize their own virtual 3-D environment.

Upon completion of this final class, students earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and credit on their academic transcripts.

Since its inception in 2005, more than 600 students have enrolled in the program, which gives undergraduates from all disciplines the opportunity for entrepreneurship education.

Writer: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432, maggiemorris@purdue.edu

Source: Nathalie Duval-Couetil, (765) 494-7068, natduval@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: The media is welcome to come to the class. For details, contact Maggie Morris, Purdue News Service,  (765) 494-2432, maggiemorris@purdue.edu

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