MTSU hosts series of go-getter speakers during upc...

MTSU hosts series of go-getter speakers during upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Department of Management and the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the MTSU Jones College of Business  invites the campus community and the public to hear a series of inspiring speakers during the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The Nov. 12-15 event is “an excellent opportunity for anyone who is interested in gaining knowledge and insight about the entrepreneurial process,” said Joshua Aaron, assistant professor of management and the new holder of the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship.

All of the events will be held in the Student Union Ballroom and are free and open to the public.

The schedule

• Serial entrepreneur and alumnus Eric Rubin will speak from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12.

Rubin got his start bartending while at MTSU, moved on to work for a distributor in Nashville and has since been involved several startups throughout the country. He has extensive consulting experience with beverage companies and is currently a partner in a spirits portfolio company, The Espiritus Group.

Eric Rains, alumna and founder of the Chef and I

Erica Rains

Jena Viviano, entrepreneur and career coach

Jena Viviano

Dennis Phillips II, iServe Lending

Dennis Phillips II

Erica Rains, founder of The Chef and I restaurant, will speak from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Rains is an Oakland High School and MTSU graduate who founded The Chef and I in Nashville in 2008 and is currently in the process of opening several new restaurants throughout the Southeast.

Dennis Phillips II of iServe Residential Lending’s Murfreesboro location will be the keynote speaker from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Phillips brings over 17 years of mortgage origination experience to iServe, where he serves as the eastern U.S. regional manager and national sales coach. He’s spent his career building dynamic teams, as well as helping existing sales professionals improve their volume and maximize their relationships.

Phillips teaches servant leadership not management skills, a focus on the actions not on results, and trains entrepreneurs “to passionately live their purpose on this earth with an actionable plan.”

• Entrepreneur and career coach Jena Viviano will wrap up the week with a presentation from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

Viviano is a career coach and entrepreneur who knows what it’s like to go through multiple career changes. She has worked on Wall Street as an investment banker, reported live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and scored a job at the growing career startup, The Muse, before launching her own consulting practice full-time in Nashville last year.

Spreading entrepreneurial mentality

Phillips’ Nov. 14 keynote is on the same day that dozens of high school students from throughout the area will be on campus attending the High School Entrepreneurship Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.where they will showcase their business plans and ideas with displays and presentations inside the Student Union.

Aaron is particularly pleased with the growth of the entrepreneurship fair, now in its fourth year and expanding from its first year when eight schools fielded 43 teams to 12 schools and roughly 60 teams this year.

Josh Aaron, assistant professor, Department of Management; holder, Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship

Josh Aaron

Aaron said “a very generous gift” from the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Foundation played a major role in being able to expand the field of high schools participating. MTSU business faculty and outside judges will pick Top 5 winners and present awards in various categories in addition to giving the youth feedback about their business ides.

Aaron said that while “entrepreneurship” was a huge buzzword back in the mid- to late-90s, the academic approach has shifted more toward teaching business innovation and creativity across academic disciplines.

MTSU has roughly 100 entrepreneurship majors currently, with about 350 entrepreneurship minors from across disciplines. Aaron notes that the entrepreneurship program can provide these students, regardless of discipline, with “boot camps” of sorts in areas such as entrepreneurship marketing and financing.

“We know that everybody will become an entrepreneur, but those skills can be very effective in whatever career role you may find yourself,” he said. “Everybody needs to be thinking innovatively and creatively.”

Aaron says that often when he’s teaching an entrepreneurship class, he’ll ask at the beginning of the year how many students plan to be entrepreneurs at some point, and usually about half the hands will go into the air.

Technology continues to reduce traditional barriers to entrepreneurship and gives aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to create, develop and even sell their products via web platforms and services available on their laptops, Aaron said.

A searchable campus parking map is available at Off-campus visitors attending daytime events should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at

For more information about MTSU’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, visit or email Lexie Buchanan at

To learn more about MTSU’s entrepreneurship program within the Department of Management, visit

— Jimmy Hart (

Employee account created by LAM on 5/8/12 (PZRNFAC report)