Take an inside look at DO U, DU’s student-run club where entrepreneurs and innovators learn from, and connect with, each other.
Between busy class schedules and personal ventures, it can be hard for student entrepreneurs to make time for a social life. Whether you are preoccupied with your blossoming tech startup, or you are a musician booking gigs for your band, it is important to take time away from “the grind” and connect with your peers. Luckily for the DU community, there is a club that creates a space for both socializing and supporting one another’s entrepreneurial work.
DO U aims to connect students across all disciplines and practices. The club meets Mondays, at 6 p.m., at The Garage, Entrepreneurship@DU’s off-campus hub at the intersection of University and Asbury. To get the inside scoop on the club, one of Entrepreneurship@DU’s writers sat in on a meeting to learn what the club is all about.
The top of the meeting was casual. Students were hanging around The Garage’s living room, sitting on couches, listening to a 70’s music playlist on Spotify, snacking on pizza and chatting amongst themselves. Gina Parker, president of DO U, officially started the club meeting with a check-in that went around the room. All 16 members shared life updates from the last week, including new jobs, tattoos and microgrant applications for their startups.
One club member’s comment was striking: he said that when he started his business, he knew nothing about entrepreneurship. He was grateful to DO U for creating a space where he could surround himself with fellow entrepreneurs of varying experience levels, and that in the process he has learned so much “by osmosis.”
After check-ins, Gina introduced the week’s guest speaker. Jack Billeaud, winner of this year’s Entrepreneurship Week Pitch Competition, shared his experience as a new entrepreneur. His pitch for Stik Buds, a crafty earplug case for drummers, won him $1,500 at the Pitch Competition. Now, he is completing an independent study to design and manufacture the product.
Students asked Billeaud for advice on their own startups and pitches. Club members chimed in with their own recommendations for classes that can help develop business ideas into real startups, such as “From Idea to First Dollar Sale” (EVM 3350).
It was impossible to ignore how collaborative and trusting the DO U space felt. Everyone’s voice mattered. It did not feel like there was a “hierarchy” in the room. Keeping the club informal and conversational is key to their mission, according to Parker. During the meeting, she said that the over-professional attitude that is prevalent in the business world can lead to less vulnerability and authenticity. “Entrepreneurs are passionate,” she said. “People love seeing people who are passionate about something.” That passion and authenticity is part of what makes entrepreneurs so magnetic.
After the conversation with Billeaud, Parker checked in with the club on their challenge from the previous meeting: brainstorming and implementing ways to promote creative thinking in day-to-day life. For example, Gina told the group she stopped listening to music when walking from class to class. Because of this, she hears her own thoughts instead of drowning them out.
One club member talked about the benefits of yoga and meditation for creative thinking. He went on to share how DO U has helped him manage DU’s Yoga Club in innovative ways. This is yet another example of DO U’s openness: anything can be “entrepreneurial,” even outside the scope of business. Throughout the meeting, students spoke about all kinds of ventures, including student clubs, class projects, rock bands and AI technology software. No matter your passion, there is space for you and your interests at DO U.
After members shared their thoughts about creative thinking, Gina introduced this week’s topic: risk-taking. Once again, the group did not immediately discuss “risk” in business — instead, members shared their experiences cliff diving, public speaking and performing in their high school musicals. Students shared personal anecdotes about risks they’ve taken in their lives, which were then connected to valuable lessons that can be applied to a business or entrepreneurial context.
The meeting ended informally a few minutes later, after members had a chance to share resources with each other. Some members were casually networking, discovering they had complementary skills that could help each other’s ventures.
After sitting in on a DO U meeting, it is clear the space is open and inviting for anyone. If you are looking to learn more about entrepreneurship “through osmosis”—or, if you just want to hang out with interesting, innovative people on a Monday night—be sure to check out a meeting for yourself.