Off of the train tracks at 3618 Walker Ave., there is a two-story brick building, where what happens inside is unlike anything else on the University of Memphis campus.
At the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, U of M students are being mentored through the process of developing their ideas and creating startups. The structure at the Crews Center is much more informal than typical campus services in order to better promote innovation and creativity among student entrepreneurs.
Originally called the Crews Ventures Lab, it was envisioned as an incubator for startups —typically university research for later commercialization. However, Crews Center director Mike Hoffmeyer, suggested the University reevaluate the function of the operation.
“An incubator by definition is very exclusive,” he said. “What I recommended to the university was not to let go of the incubator concept, but to broaden it. Let’s create our own destiny.”
Expanding the idea of the Crews Center opened the door for it to be an environment for any student who has an idea for a startup, regardless if it is researched based or a cool idea, to utilize and perfect that idea for commercialization. More than simply that, however, Hoffmeyer feels that the purpose of the center is to influence the entire university to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Hoffmeyer expressed that the culture of innovation is contagious. Saying that once people experience it, they get attracted to it and come back with a desire to get more involved.