Three entrepreneur initiatives named award finalists by UEDA

Indiana University East has some big-time talent in its entrepreneur program.

How big? Two of its initiatives — acronymed BOSS and CEOs — have been named finalists in the Talent category of the 2020 University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Awards of Excellence.

three men stand together in front of a screen

(From left to right) João Vitor de Lima, Johnny Fike and Cole Fosbrink are finalists for UEDA’s Talent category.

And a program called In Your Business Television is a finalist in the Talent and Place category.

“They only take 15 nominees and we got three,” boasts Johnny Fike, who is one of three founders of the Cash Equals Opportunities (CEOs) program that has taught financial literacy to hundreds of high school students around the area. “That’s pretty big for our school here in Richmond, Indiana.”

Even “bigger” when considering that the competition includes a pair of finalists from the University of Kentucky and one finalist apiece from universities such as Indiana University Bloomington, South Carolina and Virginia Tech — all that have enrollments of more than 30,000 students.

IU East has about 3,500.

“We are very pleased with this recognition,” says Denise S. Smith, dean of the IU East School of Business and Economics. “Our entrepreneurship programs are having an impact on Richmond and on the entire IU East service region.”

The Business Opportunities for Self Starters (BOSS) program is a finalist for the third straight competition. It’s the first recognition for the CEOs program and for In Your Business Television.

Finalists will present during the UEDA Digital Summit that is scheduled September 21-24 and winners will be announced September 30th. “I am excited about each of them,” says Tim Scales, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Economic Education, and senior lecturer at IU East.

woman interviewed by a man for In Your Business

Tim Scales, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Economic Education and senior lecturer, interviews a guest on In Your Business Television. The show is a finalist for UEDA’s Talent & Place category.

“We’re on the big stage. This recognition is something truly special for IU East,” Scales said.

The competition is special, too, he says: “Everybody brings their ‘A’ game.”

The awards recognize “innovative programs across North America that focus on developing economic prosperity in their communities and beyond,” according to the University Economic Development Association.

Scales originally developed BOSS as a two-year program — and it’s still growing and evolving after 13 years.

In Your Business Television features even more longevity: Scales has hosted the program for 16 years and recorded more than 400 episodes.  “I never dreamed of having a show, much less running this long,” he admits.

Each 30-minute program features an interview with a local business leader who offers a peek into their companies and how they have succeeded. “I really get to know them and their businesses,” Scales said.

The shows are taped through Whitewater Community Television (WCTV), located on the IU East campus, with the help of Executive Director Eric Marsh, Ryan Harris, videographer/director, and other staff members.

The Talent and Place category exemplifies how putting the right people in the right environment will benefit the community and economy, according to the UEDA.

BOSS continues to take its upbeat message of entrepreneurship to new levels — and new places — by teaching more instructors and program leaders. For example, Scales helped seed a program at the Kelly School of Business at IUPUI and also led a summer camp at George Washington High School. He has even taken the program to give presentations in countries around the world.

“The BOSS program is a signature program at IU East and one of the significant ways that we can have an impact on local schools,” Smith said.

Scales envisions a BOSS program in the near future where students will develop the complete program and even get paid for their efforts. He also envisions one with a much bigger online presence.

“Tim Scales has done amazing work with all of our entrepreneurship programs and has had a positive impact on our students,” Smith says. “The nominations highlight the impressive contributions of IU East, Tim Scales, and our students in entrepreneurship.”

The three current leaders of the Cash Equals Opportunities program were attracted to IU East by the entrepreneurship program — and also by Red Wolves’ athletics.

They are: Fike of Bradford, Ohio, João Vitor de Lima of Curitiba, Brazil, and Cole Fosbrink of Seymour, Indiana.

Joe Griffin, director of athletics, said, “Johnny, João and Cole are shining examples of championship-caliber efforts our IU East student-athletes put forth in all competitions – both academic and athletic. We are very excited to see they are among such a select group of nominees for a national award. I’m very proud of our athletes being named as finalists. This is a great representation of some of the great student-athletes that we have on our teams and how they are succeeding in their academics.”

Fosbrink and de Lima play together as defenders on the men’s soccer team. “I am left back and he’s right back,” Fosbrink said. “We make each other better.”

Fike runs for the cross country and track teams — and is a double major with one academic area outside of business. The junior is a criminal justice major who aims to become a police chief someday.

He and de Lima co-founded the CEOs program — along with 2019 alumna Paige Gray — as part of Money Smart Day, an annual public-education personal-finance program started by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It became quickly obvious that the IU East program would work well on a long-term basis.

The trio gave a presentation to 150 students on the IU East campus in spring 2019. “That was pretty cool,” says de Lima, who is a junior with a major in business administration. “It’s great for the students and it’s awesome to work and learn with them.”

Fosbrink, a junior finance major, stepped in to replace Gray last year and already has brought new ideas that are used with CEOs.

The students are excited to be finalists.The Talent category focuses on programs that teach people how to thrive in the 21st century Knowledge Economy. This includes life-long learning, experiential education and discovery-based learning programs, active alignment of curricula to industry needs, and more.

“I didn’t know what to think at first. We were all eager and waiting. We are super happy,” Fosbrink said. “All the late nights, the traveling and presenting were worth it. We hope to continue doing this and go to a lot more places.”

De Lima agrees. “It was a good experience and something I didn’t expect. It’s an honor enough to be nominated. It would be even a greater honor to win,” he said.

And Fike: “We didn’t know where we were, where we’d place. We were ecstatic, couldn’t believe it.”

Scales and the students plan to present for the awards show online, but de Lima will probably have to do so from Brazil. He’s unable to fly back to the United States this semester because of a travel ban in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students all laud the close-knit atmosphere at IU East. “Every person I met at first treated me like we’d known each other for years,” Fike said. “We are one big family there. That’s what is so awesome about IU East.”

And de Lima:  “The great thing about IU East is making close contacts. You can have relationships with instructors, which allows you to better develop yourself during your academic career. It’s a great experience.”

Fosbrink admits he didn’t know anything about IU East until getting a text from the Red Wolves soccer coach late in his senior year of high school.

He was intrigued, but still planning to attend a college nearer his home, until a chance meeting with Scales during his recruiting visit. “He’s the one that made me feel like this is the place I wanted to go,” Fosbrink said. “I am loving it here.”

The three students each lead a section of the CEOs demonstration that they present to high school students.

“I talk about savings accounts,” Fosbrink said. “Joao talks about checking accounts and Johnny talks about the CEO Method of saving.”

That method is the centerpiece of the program. Its main concept is that consumers should save double the amount of money they need to buy consumer goods such as bikes, computer games, headphones or musical equipment.

“If you want to buy something for $50, you have to make $100. That’s the message we created to start the implementation of the saving mentality on those high school students,” de Lima explains.

Scales explains further. “You will get things you want, but still always have money saved. Otherwise, you aren’t saving; you are just spending,” he said.

The trio often trade ideas about improving the program while they drive around the area to give their presentations. They also meet with Scales to brainstorm new ideas.

“He leaves it to us. He sits there and listens to us three,” Fosbrink said. “Sometimes he’ll jump in and guide us when necessary.”

Fosbrink promises the program will grow.

“We are just getting started. There is more to come. We’ll come up with more ideas and get a lot bigger,” Fosbrink said.