Teacher banks on students' business ideas

April 18, 2002|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

FREDERICK - For Derek Taylor, it's a dream course.

With 15 fellow Mount St. Mary's College students this summer, he'll start a small business financed by his professor. If the venture fails, the professor absorbs the loss. If it succeeds, Taylor and the other student stockholders will share the profits. And he'll get three credits in the bargain.

"Where else could you take a business course spending someone else's money?" said Taylor, 23, a business major.

Plans for the course were announced here yesterday by John Laughlin, a Frederick investor and adjunct professor at Mount St. Mary's. Laughlin pledged $50,000 in venture capital for the course that begins May 21 at the school's Frederick campus. And he committed up to $1 million over 10 years in hopes of launching 20 businesses.

"It's the course that keeps on giving," said Laughlin, 58, a Frederick entrepreneur who has created and managed dozens of companies over the past 30 years.

Under arrangements worked out with the Emmitsburg college, Laughlin will see his investment returned if the businesses succeed but will absorb the losses if they fail. Students could profit from successful ventures years after they complete the five-week accelerated course.

"We'll have a lot of fun, and I think we'll make some money, too," said Laughlin.

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