Kennesaw State entrepreneurship center

Kennesaw State entrepreneurship center funds high-tech student start-ups

Kennesaw State entrepreneurship center, Kennesaw State students are taking what they learn from faculty in the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center and investment from the Mookerji Innovation Fund to create tech and engineering projects, develop software ideas and launch businesses that solve consumer problems.

The Shores, who are longtime KSU supporters, established the entrepreneurship center in the Michael J. Coles College of Business with a major gift in 2016. Since then, the couple and center faculty have continued to work to expand its scope.

Kennesaw State entrepreneurship center

“We’re seeing some exciting and innovative ideas from students and alumni, and it’s making it possible for them to pursue their passions, become their own bosses and ultimately become business owners,” said Greg Quinet, executive director of the Center. “What’s exciting is that these ideas are not just coming from our business and entrepreneurship students.”

With help from the Mookerji Innovation Fund, an incubator funded by donations from technology entrepreneurs Sid and Sophie Mookerji to bolster the work of the entrepreneurship center and its faculty Tech Zone to empower, students can acquire capital, contract work or other early-stage business needs to get their start-ups off the ground. The Mookerjis established the fund in 2020 and recently contributed $600,000 to make more grants available to student and alumni projects in the coming years.

Students and recent graduates can apply for grants from the Mookerji Innovation Fund for their start-up business or product idea in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The businesses started by students and alums so far have ranged from cutting-edge technology to consumer product development.

Training by playing
Brannan Vitek grew up in Gainesville, Ga., known as the “Poultry Capital of the World.” Meatpacking is the major industry there, but it wasn’t something he had an interest in.

At Kennesaw State, Vitek (’20) studied game design and hoped to one day work for a video game development company, never thinking gaming had a role to play in poultry plants. After taking Quinet’s Entrepreneurial Mind course in 2019, starting a business seemed so achievable that Vitek looked for ways he could turn his game-design passion into a business.

Today, Vitek leads Apex Innovations, a company that created a virtual reality game to introduce students at Lanier Technical College in Gainesville to the basics of ammonia refrigeration system operation and maintenance, the type used in the area’s poultry processing plants. Students learn the basics of the refrigeration systems virtually through the game before they advance into hands-on training with working models.

“The Entrepreneurial Mind course changed my path from solely a programmer to an entrepreneur,” Vitek said. “The class broke down the process for starting a business and showed me how I could do it without any debt, and how to choose a market.”

Vitek’s team initially received a $2,500 grant and to date has received $7,500 in startup funding.

“The Mookerji grant went to software licenses and paychecks. We had bought our virtual reality headsets and started programming beforehand, so having the additional cash was a boost to our peace of mind during the seven-month development time of the ammonia game,” Vitek said.

In addition to its contract with Lanier Technical College for refrigeration training, Vitek said his team is also developing virtual reality hazardous materials training, forklift and heavy machinery training for the college.