BYU Rollins Center to introduce programs for student-created businesses

Chris Crittenden was announced the new director of the Rollins Center, part of the Marriott School of Business in February 2021. (BYU Marriott News Release)

The Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology is introducing new programs focused on hands-on learning including Sandbox, which helps students launch their own companies.

Rollins Center Director Chris Crittenden has been volunteering at BYU for several years as an adjunct professor of management. Crittenden was announced as the new director of the Rollins Center in February 2021. He said being the new director of the Rollins Center has given him many opportunities to work with students. His love for working with students kickstarted launching several major programs through the Rollins Center.

“I started new courses as an adjunct professor and it’s nice now having an organization that can really power that vision to greater heights,” he said.

Crittenden said there will be several new programs through the Rollins Center that will be launched this year.

One program called “Sandbox” was piloted in 2020 and was immensely successful. The program will be fully launched this fall semester. Sandbox incorporates students from all across campus and helps them launch their own companies, Crittenden said. This 17-credit hour program will be two semesters long.

“It’s very hands on; there aren’t any textbooks and it’s very much experiential learning,” Crittenden said.

Crittenden said seven majors are integrated into the program including computer science, ACME, data science, graphic design, design and two business majors. Students from these majors will form teams to launch tech companies where they will pitch ideas to several investors. Only 60 applicants will be accepted this year, but Crittenden said the Rollins Center faculty plan on growing the program to accept more applicants in the future.

There is a chance that students could receive funding by venture capitalists at the end of the program, Crittenden said. If not, the experience of being a part of Sandbox should be so compelling to recruiters for students to receive great job offers from different companies.

“There’s a chance that through this program students can do something that’s really meaningful,” he said.

Rollins Center Brand and Communications Director Jade Rogers said Sandbox is the program that’s been getting the most interest from Utah Valley professionals. She said Sandbox incorporates “hands-on learning, building real products and businesses, and developing the students’ divine creativity.”

The Rollins Center is also creating a brand called Creators, Rogers said. Creators is a community for artists, creatives and thinkers to come and experience programs such as Sandbox.

Rogers also said Creators is a great resource for any student interested in becoming someone who can think creatively and strategically and build a product or company that will make a difference in this world.

BYU marketing senior and podcast host of The Student Entrepreneur Edgar Columna said the Rollins Center has helped him achieve his goals in becoming the best marketer he can be.

Columna said the Rollins Center helps students become exactly who they want to be by providing them with the tools they need to create. It also helps them be a part of the community and define purpose in something greater than themselves. Columna also said the Rollins Center provided him with the physical space and resources he needed for his podcast.

The Rollins Center encompasses all of these aspects. “We’re amplifiers of passion because we enable people to create things and create businesses with the passion that they have,” Columna said.

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