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Every great business starts with a great idea. But turning that idea into a viable enterprise can be a daunting task. Students who want to make that leap are getting a lot of help from the Portland State Entrepreneurship Club.

The E-Club, as members call it, provides a forum for exploring ideas, connecting students with business and helping them find funding. The club was started two years ago by student Nick Simms to help foster an entrepreneurial culture at PSU.

Members include PSU alum Ryan Jenson, CEO of HoneyComb, a company that provides drone aircraft for agricultural surveying; senior Heber Miguel, founder of Green Innovations, which recycles waste oil and turns it into diesel; and Simms himself, a senior who started a company called Survive Monthly that delivers monthly packages of survival tools, guides and tricks to subscribers.

Fellow business majors Chris Joseph (pictured) and Daniel Ball were wondering what to do with a bumper crop of summer berries when inspiration hit: making berry-infused vodka. That was in 2012. Today their company, Wild Roots Vodka, sells the boutique spirits in more than 100 liquor stores in Oregon and is venturing into other states. "I used almost everything I learned in the Entrepreneurship Club," Joseph said. "With the help of the club and business faculty, we made connections with key people and raised more than $100,000. They really helped us get the ball rolling."

Junior Mandy Loh was born in L.A., but her family roots are in Malaysia where she spent much of her teens. While there she developed a taste for coconut jam, a condiment used throughout Southeast Asia. Loh, a management and leadership major at PSU, is now developing Kaya Kitchen, a company that will produce the sweet delicacy. She joined the E Club and took part in a five-week business workshop where participants pitch their ideas. "Mine was the top pick," she says. She's now perfecting the recipe and the procedures to produce it on a large scale. "I'm excited. I found something I really want to do," she says.


See the E-Club's website for more information. Learn about other resources at PSU's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.