The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program has launched its first cohort of the Engler Fellow Experience, which supports aspiring entrepreneurs as they balance the responsibilities of being students and business owners.
Throughout the experience, four Engler Fellows will learn business strategies, including customer discovery, market research and defining the purpose of their business. While fellows are located across the state, the entire group meets weekly over Zoom to share updates on their progress.
Dillion Muirhead, a Valentine native and sophomore agricultural and environmental sciences communication major, is leveraging the Engler Fellow Experience to expand his real estate videography business, DM Creative, to the Omaha and Lincoln areas. Above all, he is grateful for the relationships he has built with other entrepreneurs.
“It’s not easy to run a business and go to college at the same time,” he said. “The community Engler has provided is great at helping you build on the entrepreneurial skills you already have to help you be as successful as possible.”
As part of the experience, each entrepreneur is awarded a $5,000 enterprise grant to cover personal, academic and business expenses. For many, this offers a rare chance to focus solely on the growth of their enterprise.
Miranda Hornung, a senior agricultural education major from Davey, launched her organizational service business in June, and seeks to help families optimize spaces in their homes and offices. The business, MADE by Miranda, strives to “make all days efficient.” Hornung focuses on efficiency, structure and affordability for everything from kitchen cabinets to work-from-home desks.
“I definitely think the provided time and financing are two of the biggest reasons why programs like this are so important,” she said. “I don’t know that I would’ve been able to devote this much time to my business if this had not been available to us.”
Hunter Suchsland of Kearney and Cade Ludwig of Wood River are co-owners of LS Lures, a custom tackle company that specializes in making handmade jigs and lures in a variety of colors and sizes.
Suchsland competes on the university’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Team. Together, the friends and business partners have more than 20 years of experience flipping, pitching and skipping jigs into nooks and crannies at nearby lakes. LS Lures seeks to provide high-quality jigs at a great price.
The Engler Fellow Experience is an innovative approach to invest in one of Nebraska’s greatest assets — its young people. Brennan Costello, Engler’s chief business relations officer, said he believes the program is beneficial to not only the cohort, but the entire state.
“Engler believes in the power of entrepreneurship,” he said. “Anything we can do to create more opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to grow their businesses is better for us and better for Nebraska.”
The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program is currently seeking business mentors and sponsors for future Engler Fellow Experiences. To learn about the program and opportunities to invest in aspiring entrepreneurs, contact Costello at firstname.lastname@example.org.