Miami U: Fueling the Entrepreneurial Machine

There’s a great deal of entrepreneurial buzz happening on the campus of Miami University. The Miami Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is an internationally recognized program providing immersive, real-world experiences. The program has been ranked among the “Top 10 Undergraduate Public Schools for Entrepreneurship Studies” in the nation for 10 years in a row by Entrepreneur Magazine and The Princeton Review®.

The program is led in part by Mark Lacker, John W. Altman Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at Miami, helps students understand that they don’t have to be middle aged to be entrepreneurs, and there really is no better time than the present.

“The thesis of the program is that you learn how to start a business by doing it. Our program is practice based, not theory,” said Lacker. “Entrepreneurship requires creativity, and social and technical skills, and while many students may have those attributes, they still need a place to practice. That’s where Miami comes in, as well as organizations such as QCA.”

QCA and its members, several of which are alums of the university, are regulars on campus, helping to strengthen the programs commitment to immersive experiences.  


“QCA is one of the bellwethers in the region in terms of helping organizations start and scale,” said Lacker. “Partnering with QCA members is natural for us because of our practice-based curriculum that puts students in the field.”

It’s not uncommon for QCA members Scott Miller, Scott Avera, Kevin Martin, among others to be on campus judging business plan competitions, speaking on panels or talking to students about how to be entrepreneurs.

Lacker added, “We are teaching students how to be entrepreneurs, and who better to partner with us on that effort than angel investors who have built successful businesses, are using their own money to invest in other companies, and are ready and willing to share their experiences?”

Lacker values the growing entrepreneurial community in Cincinnati, and the understanding from the players in the ecosystem that everything starts with education, with programs such as Morning Mentoring, the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp and eKickStart.

“I was in HCBC 15 years ago, and one of the greatest things about being in that building was that if I didn’t know something, I could get help from someone in the same hallway. We have a really unique support system in the region, from the relationships between big companies and startups, to the handful of accelerators and the second largest angel network in the country. It’s why our entrepreneur students can be successful in Cincinnati.”