DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center began the new year with a new executive director -- Terri Lonier, PhD.
Lonier has a background in
both academia and the corporate world. Previously, she was assistant professor
and program supervisor of entrepreneurship and strategy in the Arts,
Entertainment and Media Management Department at Columbia College Chicago. Before
that, Lonier led the strategy consulting firm Working Solo, Inc., which guided
Fortune 100 and high-tech firms. Her entrepreneurial startup guide, “Working
Solo,” was named “the No. 1 choice for solo entrepreneurs” in an Inc. magazine
cover story and “the free agent’s bible” by Fast Company magazine.
Below, Lonier discusses her new job and what she
has planned for the center, which was established at DePaul through a Coleman
Foundation pledge of $2.5 million in 2003.
What drew you to DePaul?
When I heard about the opportunity to lead the Coleman Entrepreneurship
Center, I saw it as a chance to bring together the knowledge of the classroom
and the streetwise wisdom of business experience. It enables me to combine my
background as an entrepreneur, my academic training and research, and my
passion to support the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.
Entrepreneurship is very popular on college campuses today, and it’s more than
a passing fad. Students recognize that to thrive in the 21st century “gig
economy,” they need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and take charge of
their own careers. For some, this may mean self-employment, others may work for
entrepreneurial companies, and a few may launch high-growth firms.
In addition to directing the Coleman
Center, you will serve as a clinical professor of management. Which classes
will you teach at DePaul?
In spring quarter I will teach the graduate class MGT 570: Entrepreneurship
and New Venture Management. In that course students will be refining their
business ideas and crafting their business plans in preparation to launch their
startups. We’ve had some great success stories emerge from that class, and I
look forward to guiding students in the entrepreneurial process.
What do you want the DePaul community to
know about you?
I’m a Midwesterner—I was born in Ohio—and Chicago is my favorite city in
the country. My dad launched his own television sales and service business in
the 1950s, so entrepreneurship is in my DNA—it’s a lens through which I see the
world. I also think that being an entrepreneur is one the most creative thing
you can do with your life. As I tell my students, “As an entrepreneur there’s
no detailed playbook that guarantees your success. Every day you ‘make it up’.”
What trends do you expect to see in 2013
While strong attention remains focused on online startups, I see growing
opportunities in businesses that are more traditional in nature. The most
interesting startup ideas I see these days are not only the latest app or Web
commerce site, but also those that use the Internet as a means to bring people
together in person, or to improve the daily lives of people through more
traditional product or service businesses. They are more “tech-enabled”
companies rather than specifically “tech-focused,” like many dot-com companies.
Read what Crain’s Chicago Business wrote about her job.