Champlain College and Hula pair up to develop a new generation of entrepreneurs –

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By Fred Thys

Champlain College and Hula, the Burlington coworking campus and business incubator, are launching a new collaboration next semester that includes a course in entrepreneurship taught in part by visiting founders of startups.
Champlain’s Miller Center campus in Burlington is a short distance from Hula.
“I believe we have an opportunity to participate in the leading edge of this growing trend that seems to be occurring across the United States, where college campuses are physically integrating themselves more and more with business development,” said Russ Scully, the founder of Hula and a board member of Champlain College.
Alex Hernandez, president of Champlain College, which is focused on getting students ready for careers when they graduate, said by partnering with Hula, he hopes to break down the walls between the workplace and the classroom. 
Hernandez and Scully developed the idea for the course. 
“I see this as a very symbiotic relationship,” Scully said. “Hula is very focused on developing workforce for companies, particularly technology companies in the area, and really helping to try to slow down this brain drain of higher ed students who end up leaving the area because they can’t find the job that they’re looking for.”
Hernandez will co-teach the master class in entrepreneurship at Hula this spring semester with Rob Lair, Hula’s chief executive officer. The course is offered by Champlain’s Skiller School of Business. 
Twenty-four students have enrolled in the course, which starts Jan. 17.
Among them is Ahmed Adan, a third-year business administration and finance student at Champlain who has started Fuay, which he calls a coding business for graphic design. 
“I’m definitely looking forward to networking opportunities,” Adan said. 

Wolde North, a fourth-year student at Champlain College in Burlington, seen on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. North has enrolled in an entrepreneurship course at Hula, the Burlington business space and incubator. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Also enrolled is Wolde North, a fourth-year game business and publishing student at Champlain. He runs the rock climbing club at the college and trains the tour guides. 
“I think the main thing I hope to get out of it is just a general understanding of small business opening and just what people think about when they go into business,” North said. 
Another student taking the course, Olivia Hutchins, is a business administration and digital marketing student at Champlain. She is working on an app that she hopes to have up and running by the time she graduates in May. She is looking forward to building a large network of business contacts through the course because students will be invited to events at Hula. 
“Those new connections are going to give us gateways to really learn how to build a business, but also have these connections to just ask questions,” Hutchins said.
The class will bring in founders and entrepreneurs as guest speakers. 
“Students are going to be immersed in the Hula community, learning from entrepreneurs,” Hernandez said, adding that students will have the opportunity to tackle projects with businesses at Hula. 
He said OVR Technology, a company based at Hula that has introduced smell to virtual reality, reached out to a group of Champlain students to help it develop its first prototype.
Champlain will install an innovation hub project manager at Hula to pair companies at Hula with students at Champlain. 
“I think of it like an internship agent within Hula,” said Scully. “With having this project manager or internship agent at Hula, we can broker these relationships and make it really seamless and easy and efficient for both the employers and the students.”
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Fred Thys covers business and the economy for VTDigger. He is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science. He is the recipient of the Radio, Television, and Digital News Association’s Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and for Enterprise Reporting. Fred has worked at The Journal of Commerce, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, and WBUR, and has written for Le Matin, The Dallas Morning News, and The American Homefront Project.
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