Cindy Busch comes from a family of entrepreneurs. One grandfather was a goat cheese-maker in Trinidad and the other owned a cattle company. Her father had a side business building houses to rent and still has several units. As for Busch, she and her husband operated a small commercial cleaning company for about six years.
“I have been exposed to entrepreneurship my whole life,” she says. “You do what you need to do to put food on the table.”
Busch is now preaching the gospel of self-reliance to Metro State students as manager of the Center for Innovation, the College’s entrepreneurial laboratory that trains students who want to be their own boss. She’s been with the center since it opened and is now its manager, overseeing curriculum, programs, outreach, staff, accounting and creating marketing pieces.
Last month, she attended an invitation-only “Future of Entrepreneurship Education Summit” in Washington, D.C., which brought together heavy hitters in the field as well as representatives of government, foundations, education and business to brainstorm new ways to support entrepreneurship and promote it in classrooms from kindergarten through college. Busch also was among 50 attendees invited to special presentations at the Capitol and White House.
“It’s amazing how many kids aren’t aware this is an opportunity,” Busch says. “You ask a kindergartner ‘what do you want to be’ and they say a fireman. But if you were to say ‘have you thought about opening up your own business?’…it makes them start thinking a little differently.”
Busch is a 2007 marketing graduate of the College. She attended Regis University in 1980-81, intending to be an engineer. “I realized that it wasn’t for me at that point.” Over the years, she held a series of jobs with financial institutions, working her way up through the ranks. In 2004, she became a victim of downsizing.
“I had a choice to make,” she says. “Go to school or try to find a job.” Despite an upwardly mobile resume, she realized she would probably have to start from scratch in a new profession without a college degree.
But it would not be a leisurely stroll through academia for Busch. She and her family decided Busch had to get her bachelor’s degree in two years. “We could not afford for me to be in school any longer.” She took a full load of courses at Front Range Community College at night and the rest at Metro State during the day, graduating summa cum laude.
During her last semester, she audited a marketing class that helped operate a furniture design business. The teacher was Mick Jackowski, who later became director of the Center for Innovation. He hired Busch in August 2007.
The center is putting the finishing touches on its franchise ownership program, which is to launch next year. Qualified Metro State graduating seniors and alumni will obtain seed capital and training to operate a franchise and earn equity in the business as part of their compensation, assuming full ownership after 10 years.
Besides her work on that and other programs, Busch, an animal lover, is planning a new venture—producing and marketing healthy, all-natural dog treats. And in keeping with the family heritage, Busch’s daughter, Alysha, (‘11), is exploring the prospect of a business that provides home-based technical and other services to older baby boomers.
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