The world of work is changing faster than ever. Every day, the global community becomes more connected, technology takes quantum leaps forward, and people rethink the meaning of career success. The businesses and future leaders of Memphis need fresh ideas and unique skills to survive and thrive in this new world. This is what CBU’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation provides.

Whether you’re a student with a dream, part of the CBU alumni family wanting to launch a new venture, or an established business owner, CBU’s Entrepreneurship Center is the place to find the training, resources, information, mentorship, and networks that you need.

Making Memphis the Best It Can Be, One Business at a Time

CBU’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation is currently working on three major efforts:

  • Curriculum: Working with School of Business faculty to build a degree program in entrepreneurship, as well as several workshops that are accessible and affordable to the community at large. These certificate courses mean that you don’t have to be a CBU School of Business student to learn crucial entrepreneurship skills
  • Concepts2Companies: Using concepts from students, faculty, alumni, and the Memphis community to create businesses with the support of a privately capitalized venture funding, with the goal of creating marketable and profitable real-world products, services, and companies.
  • The 800 Initiative: Working with the Memphis City and County governments, Epicenter, and Start Co., and with financial support from FedEx and the Kresge Foundation, to bring minority-based businesses in Memphis $50 million in net new revenue by 2023.

The 800 Initiative

Of the 69,000 privately-owned firms in Memphis, 62% are minority-owned. These firms, however, account for less than 3% of the $36.5 billion revenue that Memphis generates annually. About 97% of these firms are run and operated solely by their owners, with no additional employees for support, and most of these businesses are suffering from a lack of access to resources like capital funds and business acceleration programs.

The Center’s 800 Initiative works to solve these problems by providing these businesses with the resources they need and deserve. With $3.5 million in combined funding from the Kresge Foundation and FedEx, and the support of numerous partners, the 800 Initiative has already:

  • Connected with more than 1,000 minority-owned businesses.
  • Provided capital funds of $480,000 to participating firms.
  • Placed eight interns.
  • Accounted for net new revenues of $5.5 million received by 17 participating firms.

Future goals include increasing the revenue of 50+ firms, and involving more businesses in the 800 Initiative, with the long-term goal of bringing participating businesses $50 million in net new revenue by 2023.

Starfish Solutions


Shelby Peranich
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation, School of Business