Unions Entrepreneurial Program helps students launch their businesses

Housey Designs, Max Fix and Yes Girl were selected as this year’s businesses for the Unions Entrepreneurial Program.
Yes Girl is a student run business located in the Student Center that was store spaces and a $2,000 scholarship to launch their business by the Unions Entrepreneurial Program. Photo by Photographer Andrew Moore

Housey Designs, Max Fix and Yes Girl were given year-long 300 square foot spaces in the Student Center to house their startups for the school year as part of the Unions Entrepreneurial Program. The program allows students to operate their businesses in one of the three spaces in the Student Center, along with teaching them entrepreneurship skills like pitching a business proposal and marketing.

“[The program] give[s] students an opportunity to try out their business ideas in a fairly risk free environment,” Heath Immel, associate director of Missouri Student Unions said. “We don’t charge rent, we don’t charge utilities, they get a scholarship from US Bank, so they get a lot of financial support and facility support. So hopefully they can try out their idea and see how successful it is.”

Housey Designs specializes in custom artwork through physical and digital designs specific to each customer. Max Fix repairs various electronics including replacing LCD monitors, batteries, speakers and other various parts. Yes Girl aims to connect women with budget friendly clothing and apparel.

Over the summer, junior Emily Housey, CEO of Housey Designs, found herself preparing her shop space so she could open on the first day of school. However, years before then she began developing her business idea.

“I actually got my LLC license in July 2017, and I started as a senior in high school,” Housey said. “I just painted little things for my friends, and then my dad sat me down one day. He said, ‘I just bought you an LLC license, and you have to figure out how to pay me back.’ He always believed me and wanted to push me.”

Housey set a goal for herself to cover her out-of-state tuition costs through her business profits. By applying to the Unions Entrepreneurial Program she was able to showcase and market her products in a physical space for the first time.

“I honestly never thought I would be able to get this far,” Housey said. “I never thought I was going to open a store at 20. This is my first store and hopefully not my last.”

Likewise, graduate student Max Fazekas, CEO of Max Fix, began preparing his business at a young age. When he was a child, Fazekas says his parents feared they would come home and find their DVD player ripped apart. Today, the store space from Unions Entrepreneurial Program allows his business to be at a central location on campus.

“There’s so many people doing [cell phone repair] in Columbia,” Fazekas said. “There’s just a lot to pick from, and being inside the Student Center is what makes it easy. If you’re walking to class you can just drop off your phone, go to your 50 minute class, come back and pick up your phone and your screen’s fixed.”

As part of the application, students must submit a 10-page project proposal that details a business concept, marketing strategy, management team qualifications, budget, space design and exit strategy. In addition to being awarded the store spaces, students selected receive an iPad with a square reader and a $2,000 scholarship to launch their business. Any MU student, regardless of major or year, is welcome to apply for the program.

“We’re looking for a strong team with a diverse set of skills,” Immel said. “You don’t want everyone to be a finance person or to be a marketing person and not know how to do all of the skills. Business has many different skills that are required, so we’re looking for a diverse team with a creative and new idea.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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