Three alumni students succeed on a “Sweet” opportunity
By Albert Shelby
January 14, 2013
A chance to venture out on a true entrepreneurship is what three Western alumni students were awarded in a business contest hosted by The Craig School of Business.
Erica Ricker, Cassandra Schuster and Erik Garcia were awarded the opportunity to manage and conduct their own Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or the Aspen Leaf Yogurt store.
Carol Roever is the Interim Dean for the Craig School of Business and she noted that Steve Craig, the man behind the business, really values entrepreneurship. He feels that students should be giving the opportunity to grow and manage their own businesses.
“Steve Craig created this program for the business school that bears his name, because he believes in the value of entrepreneurial activity,” Roever said. “To sustain and grow our economy. He had faith in our students and a long history of working with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which had stores in several of the malls that his company owns.”
Craig set up the program to were each student would have five years to repay their loans, at that point they would be sole owners of their new found businesses.
Students who become interested in the program, enroll in an Applied Entrepreneurship Class and write out their own business plan for a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in any location.
The student’s plans are read by a panel of judges and then they are giving time to do a presentation of the plans before the winners are selected.
Erica Ricker is a business management major who graduated in 09’. She was one of the western students that were awarded the business opportunity.
Ricker grew interest to the program when she heard they had an alumni program. She along with friends took some classes and made a business plan. Eventually being the winners of the award and coming in first place.
“We enrolled in the classes, participated in the sessions, and we made a business plan,” Ricker said. “We competed with 15 other classes, and then it condensed down to five students. We won first place.”
There are three stores to pick from, which includes the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and two Aspen Leaf yogurt stores in two different locations.
Ricker admitted that writing a business plan for a particular store can get a little tricky. She feels that not knowing exactly what you’re going to own can be a problem when going through how you will run your business.
“Writing a business plan is a stressful situation because you don’t really know where you are going to go,” Ricker said. “You spend so much time working on it, and you don’t even know if you’re going to win. So it definitely takes a certain personality and mindset to do this competition.”
Erick Garcia, considered a non-traditional student, is a Finance major and also a winner of the competition. Garcia met his wife at Western and after starting a family and a couple businesses, Garcia decided to go back to school.
“We had jobs and we did college part time,” Garcia said. “10 years later I was finishing up my financing degree at Missouri Western.”
Garcia started to notice that there was no money coming from his small businesses located in Kansas City. He jumped to the opportunity that the Craig School of Business was offering students at Western.
“I was introduced to Steve Craig,” Garcia said. “We started talking about some of the ventures that I had started. I asked him if Missouri Western could be at any assistance. And that’s when they told me about the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory program.”
Garcia saw the program as a way to help him with his entrepreneurship skills. He enrolled in the classes and took it seriously. He was the second Western alumni winner.
Carol Roever feels that this program brings something new to the University. It brings something to the table that is not common in colleges over the country.
“Many schools are focusing on entrepreneurship,” Roever said. “But we don’t know of another school with a program that actually results in college graduates becoming business owners so quickly after graduation.”