Eric Spieth was hired to build a world-class business program from scratch in 2011.
Today, that program is XCEED, a 15-week course Spieth teaches at Central Oregon Community College.
“We wanted to create a course that would really serve both our students and the community at large,” Spieth said. “Having those two groups interfacing is very exciting for networking and collaboration.”
XCEED is composed of six classes, two credits each, designed to take a potential business owner through an entrepreneurial journey.
“In 15 weeks, you can go from idea to investment-ready business plan,” Spieth said.
Spieth envisions XCEED giving back primarily to the community.
Small business owner Ned Powers is taking XCEED even though he already has an MBA in hospital administration.
“You need a lot more than being a tinker or an inventor to develop an idea you can sell,” Powers said.
The problem with most startups that fail is the owners don’t know how to get their ideas out of their head and into their product, according to Powers. So, for “would-be business owners” who don’t have years to put into a degree, XCEED is perfect.
“It’s like a mini-MBA,” Powers said.
Powers is currently in the final section of the class, “Presenting to Win,” where he’s learning how to get funding for his business.
Richard Farr, C.E.O. of ConversionMax, a Bend consulting business, built his startup into a successful business during the course. Farr learned to “look at the big picture” and discovered ways to look at it from “different angles.”
The program is only for people who are serious about building a business, according to Farr.
“If you just want to take a class,” Farr said, “it might not be for you.”
Businesses like Farr’s and Powers’ are why XCEED exists, Spieth explained. He sees XCEED developing businesses that go outside of Central Oregon but bring capital and jobs back locally.
“Twenty percent of new job creation comes from small businesses. If we can create one or two or three viable businesses in Central Oregon a year, that would be a viable outcome.” Spieth said. “The future depends on a startup economy.”