Entrepreneurs generate and water ideas. They take chances, address the world’s needs and, along the way, expand their foundation of knowledge and their web of associates.
At Wofford, the entrepreneurial spirit is nurtured at The Space at the Mungo Center, and The Space’s efforts are fueled by donors who believe in the power of the individual and the potential of new and original ideas.
Successful businessmen and Wofford graduates John Bauknight ’89 and Nick Wildrick ’90 started an endowed fund at Wofford over 10 years ago. The two started the fund as an athletics scholarship but recently switched half in support of The Space, in large part because they wanted to embrace entrepreneurial efforts both at Wofford and in the Spartanburg area.
Bauknight and Wildrick have started several successful businesses, including a document-shredding firm.
“You hear about great ideas, and then you hear about ideas that you think aren’t so great, and they wind up working well,” Bauknight says. “When we started the shredding business, a lot of people said, ‘You do what?’”
Bauknight says he and Wildrick hope to boost the potential of both individual students and the college in general. Their endowment also will be used to provide seed money for student entrepreneurs offered through the Terrier StartUp Challenge.
“For me, this is about getting more involved with the students, whether it’s mentoring or guidance,” says Bauknight. “It’s a bit like a disease. I just love startups. And being involved on the steering committee for the new comprehensive campaign (For Wofford: The Campaign for Wofford College), it makes you appreciate the need for the dollars. It’s hard now for liberal arts colleges. We want Wofford to be here for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all those to come.”
Charlotte businessman Chris Halligan also has been a major supporter of Wofford and the Launch program, which undergirds entrepreneurial efforts at the college. In addition to financial support, Halligan has shared his time, knowledge and network of associates with Wofford student entrepreneurs. His ties have helped Wofford students develop their ideas much more quickly.
The Space offers the support, structure and resources for students who seek to make their entrepreneurial ideas flourish. Included in The Space program are business advising, connections to local and regional resources, visits with successful entrepreneurs (including Wofford alumni) and advice from peers and mentors.
By Mike Hembree