Business students utilize The EDGE’s resources

Rylie Curry, Staff Reporter

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Bailey Tibbs, a freshman majoring in finance, is looking forward to the possibilities The EDGE Entrepreneurship Center provides business students as it gives students and entrepreneurs a space to work and grow their businesses.

“As a business student, I’m excited for the opportunities that The EDGE offers students to be creative, gain experience and hone their business skills outside of the typical classroom setting,” Tibbs said.

In partnership with the city of Tuscaloosa and the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Business celebrated the grand opening of The EDGE on Feb. 6.

The EDGE is a new $11.7 million facility with offices, workspaces and conference rooms. In addition, members of The EDGE also have access to workshops, forums and networking opportunities to meet and collaborate with other entrepreneurs.

Before the opening of the new facility, The EDGE was previously located in downtown Tuscaloosa. With the new facility, now located at 2627 10th Ave., the University now has more control over day-to-day operations while the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce provides more support for events and larger endeavors.

Josh Sahib, program manager at The EDGE, said the events to be held at the facility are the most beneficial opportunities students can take advantage of.

“Events at The EDGE are a great opportunity for students to get involved and utilize the space,” Sahib said. “Companies that have won competitions in the past are still operational and doing very well.”

The EDGE will host Startup Weekend March 1-3, an event held worldwide and sponsored by Techstars and Google to help participants learn how to create a company while networking with mentors, investors, co-founders and sponsors. Participants will be challenged to form a team, create a business startup and pitch their idea to a panel of judges – all in one weekend.

“Startup Weekend allows people with different skills, whether you’re more technical or more of a designer, to come together and cross collaborate,” Sahib said.

Students can also participate in The EDGE’s Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition, which allows teams of entrepreneurs to compete for a monetary grand prize by submitting a preliminary business plan to be reviewed before submitting a final plan. Previous winners of the competition still utilize office space at The EDGE and continue to grow their businesses, including a video game company that won the competition last year.

In addition to utilizing The EDGE’s facilities, student entrepreneurs are encouraged to get involved with the University’s chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO). CEO is a student-led initiative that provides student entrepreneurs with access to mentorship opportunities, networking events and further opportunities to compete in business competitions.

Nate Jones, a sophomore majoring in finance, is a member of a research team at The EDGE, where he reads initial public offering prospectuses, which is data published when a company joins the stock market for the first time. He then codes those values into Microsoft Excel.

Jones is also involved with CEO and said the organization is very beneficial to business students by bringing in speakers who have experience and by providing a community for students interested in business to be around other like-minded students.

“It’s an environment where people who want to start a business can not only meet others with similar interests, but get advice about starting their own,” Jones said. “It increases your connections, and if they don’t know someone to solve your problem, they’re happy to help put you in touch with the right people.”