JD Wagner asks "What is the difference between entrepreneurs and artists?" and shares his activities at Oakland University.

JD Wagner
Oakland University
Class of 2014
Major: Finance and Economics


My name is JD Wagner, a student entrepreneur at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich. I am majoring in finance and economics, but my interests consist of nearly every topic. I am an artist.

At 15, I was building my own car. By my senior year in high school, I had a full-blown z28 Camaro. I have always had a mind for engineering. Our bodies can barely produce 1 horsepower. If you put a wrench in the hand of a person who thinks beyond their own limits, they can produce 300 percent more than what they were designed to do. That was my first painting.

Ordinary people create extraordinary pieces of artwork every day. By combining resources together, what was simple has become intricate and beautiful: blue and yellow become green, a ring of gold becomes a symbol of lifelong commitment, and a block of ice becomes a temporary crystal swan that lives only during the winter. The greatest part about being an artist is my own signature. Every piece of art I create will uniquely represent something I believe. I am not truly an artist. I am an entrepreneur. What is the difference?

For those who think as artists do, Oakland University (OU) has resources for you. Many of the professors involved with the school of business have had real world experience. Almost any of them will give you time to ask questions or pitch a business idea. They are not hard to come by; each of them are involved in a student led organization. I am the president of the Economic Student Association (ESA). Our advisor is involved so that he can be a more accessible resource for the student entrepreneurs on campus. ESA promotes innovative thinking and analyzes the demands of the market for entrepreneurial ideas.

For students with an idea, there is the Ideas 2 Business Lab (I2B), a program that encourages the development of student and faculty entrepreneurship. I2B selects business ideas, proposed by OU students, and funds their research needs. The lab also gives students access to a number of human resources such as web designers, database experts, business owners, law student, engineers, and many other members of the community. After developing a proper business plan and accessing the probable success of the project, the growing idea will be sent over to the OU incubator. The incubator offers office space, experts, and training about collecting startup capital. The goal is to go commercial. Best of all, OU doesn’t want a stake in the company or even a single dollar.

I want to develop a product or service that I believe in, so that I can share it with everyone. I have worked with newly formed businesses, and students with only ideas. It started with a car, throwing a party, leading an organization, and now working with the Epicenter. From those experiences, I am growing closer to accomplishing my goal and pursuing my passion.


Ideas 2 Business Lab: http://www.oakland.edu/i2b

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