Joe Jones ’12
Initiative in and out of the classroom fast-tracks sophomore’s business career
At an age when most high school students are worried about scraping together enough cash to fill the gas tank in their parents’ car, Joe Jones ’12 already had ownership interests in two businesses, four houses, a duplex and some heavy industrial property.
To say Jones is ahead of the curve when it comes to developing an entrepreneurial mindset is an understatement. His independent nature even has him pursuing an individualized major in the subject.
This winter break saw him taking the J-term course in New Venture Creation. Much of the course is taken online, so Joe was able to study in his home office even as he designed his own latest business venture, an online platform for buying and selling property that he hopes to launch this summer.
“Joe is definitely unique,” says Phil Beukema (Business Administration), who teaches the New Venture course. “He will go a long way.”
The course focused on the process of taking a business from initial concept through crafting the steps necessary to launch an enterprise. Students also had the opportunity to evaluate their own potential as entrepreneurs, culminating in a completed business plan that’s presentation-ready.
Entrepreneurism is a track Jones has been pursuing since buying his first house at the age of 15, when he combined his own savings with the college fund his parents had started, in order to take the plunge.
“It felt right and I went with it,” he says. “Were there risks involved? Yes, but did I see it as a good deal? Sure. So I just threw the money down and ran with it, and it worked. I love taking ideas and creating something. The whole entrepreneur aspect of it is, you can apply energy to some sort of capital and create value that wasn’t there before.”
Jones went on to duplicate that process several times over the next few years, whetting his appetite for continued value creation and a better understanding of the mechanisms behind entrepreneurial success.
“[The New Venture Creation] course was a good start and has given me a lot of insight into the business world,” he says. “I’m really intrigued by the idea of entrepreneurship. I know of it and I’ve practiced it, but I’ve never really studied it.”
Support for an individualized major
Jones is working with Jason Senjem (Business Administration) and David Wegge (Political Science) to develop the independent studies portion of his course work. Their goal is to break down the process and determine what makes an entrepreneurial endeavor different from any other small business or self-employment opportunity.
His major consists of theoretical and practical aspects, and the team is working on creating a mentor/internship capstone that would provide a real-life opportunity for practice and application that would not be feasible through a formal classroom setting.
Jones’ primary fascination is with the history of entrepreneurship, and understanding what makes some people more successful than others.
“Entrepreneurs throughout history have come up with some of the wackiest ideas that people never thought would’ve worked,” Jones notes. “Now we use all these different things that are products of those ideas.
“There are a lot of people that have good ideas, but the main thing is taking that idea and getting to an enterprise,” he explains. “We’re focusing on what it takes to realize the opportunities, and then what processes are available to actually go from Point A to Point B. I think a lot of people have these ideas, but don’t know how to start.”