Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Big iDeas E-Launch propels latest generation of entrepreneurs

SMU’s Big iDeas program in the Office of Engaged Learning offers funding, training and mentoring to undergraduate entrepreneurs in any major. The E-Launch workshop series guides entrepreneurs in the creation of their businesses. E-Launch met each Monday evening this semester and was led by Entrepreneurship Fellow Michael Kelly (Founder, Resolute Future), with sessions taught by Seth Orsborn (Director, Deason Innovation Gym), John Rougeux (Partner, Category Thinkers) and Ellen Smoak (Founder & CEO, The Society of Women Entrepreneurs).

Each student entrepreneur has made considerable strides in crafting their businesses through sessions covering market research, prototyping, business planning, and storytelling. We asked our entrepreneurs about what they’ve learned throughout the sessions.

“E-Launch has helped me ground my business idea and determine which elements to focus on and which are most important,” said senior Ryder McNeal, founder of PREVO Streaming. PREVO is a streaming platform dedicated to showing a curated catalogue of independent or student-made films from across the country. Ryder, who is majoring in Marketing and Film, looks forward to his next steps. “I am extremely excited to launch my business in the coming months and work to refine my pitch deck.”

Ryder McNeal Prevo Streaming with big check from Big iDeas

Throughout the process, the entrepreneurs completed assignments, such as a Lean Canvas, that are designed to help them develop a business plan and seek more funding in the future. “I’ve learned a lot,” said first-year Yaw Boateng, “such as the entire concept of category design, what an MVP is (minimum viable product), the different stages of prototypes, and how to conduct market research.”

Yaw Boateng, Peruna Bot with big check from Big IDeas

Yaw is majoring in Data Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is developing PerunaBot, an AI chatbot, to help SMU students navigate all the resources on campus. Yaw enjoyed learning broader entrepreneurship lessons like “alignment is purpose.” He explained, “from this framework, you’re reducing all friction from achieving your goals and creating a natural tailwind to push you forward. Also, understanding nuance for decision-making that can be applied to all areas of life.”

The next step for many of these entrepreneurs will be the Big iDeas Business Plan Competitionon February 9, 2024. All SMU undergrads are eligible to apply. Details on the application, business plan, and future E-Launch sessions are on the Big iDeas website,

These interviews were conducted by Leon Jackson, interim Project Coordinator for Big iDeas.

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