Walking into the Entrepreneur Center at N.C. Central University you would never guess it once was a storage closet. The small room has an Apple Computer, a blue couch, and a table placed in front of a window used to talk one-on-one with clients.
Think Garden: Entrepreneur Center is a resource on campus that allows students, faculty, and staff to brainstorm business ideas by talking to experts in entrepreneurship.
College of Arts and Sciences Senior Academic Advisor Tamette Farrington founded Think Garden: Entrepreneur Center Spring 2019 after doing an assessment on students and discovering that students, especially art students, could use more access to entrepreneurial resources on campus.
“I realized we had a lot of focus on our science students, and invested a lot into them, but then our art students — all of this creativity wasn’t really pushed or supported,” Farrington said, adding that more could be done to meet these specific student needs.
Farrington added that NCCU’s School of Business has an entrepreneurship lab, but could be more accessible and better resourced.
“I wasn’t getting any funding or resources to put this together,” she explained. “So I took the space that I had and said ‘we’re going to work with this.’ ”
Farrington added that the computer and couch were donated and that she collaborated with NCCU’s fabrication laboratory to have a poster created for the center.
Farrington mentioned she reached out to an elementary school friend, and founder of “Together is Everything” Tyrone Robinson to help start the center. Robinson agreed and serves as the marketing and business promotion specialist of the center. He then introduced Farrington to Director and founder of “Finance Athletic Career Training Services for Youth” Jasmine Brown who serves as the financial adviser for the center.
Robinson said the center tries to encourage students to network and build their brand off campus.
“Anyone that comes in here, we always look to find help for them outside of these doors,” Robinson said.
Robinson added he used two photographer students who came to the center at one of his events as a way to help build up their portfolios.
The center is “intimate and one-on-one” and is not overcrowded in a typical day according to Farrington. In an average week, about eight to ten students come to visit the center along with a couple of faculty and staff according to Brown.
“Our end goal is to have students start with a seed,” I kind of think of ‘Think Garden’ as being a flower. You start with a seed and eventually, it’s going to bloom. So, we want to build up the root,” Brown said.
Brown added the goal of the center is to develop a person’s product or idea enough so that they can receive the Limited Liability Company business license that provides liability protection for the owner to open a business.
Faculty member Carresse Gerald who works in NCCU’s Environmental Earth and Geospatial Sciences Department revisited the center to follow up with her idea of publishing her book.
“(The Entrepreneur Center has helped me out) a whole lot!” Gerald exclaimed. “Definitely getting organized, trying to set some goals so that of course I can, reach some of these milestones and take baby steps to get to the point that I need to be. (The Center has also helped with) who to contact as far as starting LLC, looking up names, (and) trying to find out about copyright information. So I have learned a lot in just a few visits.”
Gerald added her book will be an “inspirational, spiritual, self-study” journal mainly geared toward women’s health with lessons including “open-ended questions” for reflection and be used in their daily lives.
The Entrepreneur center is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m to noon in Mary M. Townes Science Building room 1205. The College of Arts of Sciences also hosts a paint station for students every Thursday 10 a.m. to noon between the Art and Music building under the breezeway.