William Kult has a bit of wisdom for students who want to start or revitalize a campus club: “Look for ways to be unique.”
That’s a lesson he and fellow senior Paige Anstead learned this year when they rebranded the AU chapter of Enactus—a national organization focused on business plan competitions among students—as “5th Street Falls.”
Due to lack of engagement and interest among students, Kult said, faculty in the Falls School of Business were no longer happy with the Enactus program. The new 5th Street Falls is intended to be more focused on what students want.
Anstead added that the reputation of Enactus “wasn’t as strong as it used to be.”
Anstead went into detail about engagement saying that the club’s previous entry process required students to apply to become members of the club.
One purpose of Enactus had been to support local businesses, and Anstead said 5th Street Falls will continue that tradition.
However, she said, the new club “is far more focused on what the students want individually. We’re able to cater to them better with little competitions within [the club].”
Last semester, the club took on the unique challenge of creating an event with a budget of $30 and trying to make a profit.
According to Anstead, one group started a lawn care business, and another sold prepackaged cookies on campus. Both groups came up with a profit at the end of the challenge.
The rebranded club will also focus on networking and preparation for students entering the business world.
“We had a meeting where we talked about what it looks like to get ready for your career,” Kult said. “You can do things in the classroom, but what can you do outside of the classroom to help get ready for a future job?”
There are currently five members of 5th Street Fall’s student leadership team, and they meet weekly to discuss club plans and ideas.
Ideas for events this semester include guest speakers and an event at Flagship Enterprise Center. According to the Flagship’s website, the center offers assistance to entrepreneurs of all stages through coaching, marketing, financial literacy, branding and more.
Flagship is also the home to AU’s Residential MBA program.
On Feb. 23, the club has an event at Flagship Enterprise Center that they are looking to get members’ help with.
“It’s a business pitch competition. We’re hoping to have some of the freshmen be able to help. It’s a paid job for them to go and help sign people up.” Anstead said.
This competition will allow students to learn directly from community businesses.
In an effort to recruit members, leadership has made chapel announcements, posted flyers on campus and sent emails to students they think would be interested.
An interest meeting was held at the beginning of this school year to spark interest among students, and this has been the club’s biggest event so far.
Anstead and Kult hope that some of the things they have planned—as well as word of mouth—will attract new members.
“We’re hoping that the more we’re able to do, the more people will be interested,” Anstead said.
Anstead’s and Kult’s experiences at AU have helped prepare them for club rebranding and leadership.
Last year, Anstead ran Somnium, an AU student-led and promoted concert that showcases independent artists on campus, with a friend.
“I learned a lot of management skills along with managing a couple artists,” Anstead said. “Working with them has taught me a lot about how to treat people individually who have different personalities. Somnium taught me how to manage a group of more than 20 people.”
This year, Anstead has a staff of about 30 people working on the show.
Leadership classes at AU, along with being a Resident Assistant in Fair Commons, have helped prepare Anstead for club leadership.
Kult has taken basic business classes, such as leadership classes, which he said helped him learn the basics of management.
“I’m a management major, so it goes along with what I am studying,” said Kult. “A lot of what we’ve done you can’t necessarily prepare for. Sometimes you just get thrown into it, which is a good learning experience.”
Leadership aims to offer a space where students can have fun while learning about business. This school year is the first full school year with things being back to normal after the COVID pandemic, and students are still adjusting to being back in person.
The pandemic took away a lot of opportunities for students to connect face-to-face, but clubs such as 5th Street Falls are offering students the opportunities to join clubs in-person and have face-to-face interactions again.
As of now, the club does not meet on a set day and time, but they hope to have an official schedule soon.
“We have to make a schedule first,” Kult said. “The semester just started, so we have to decide what we want to do, and then we can lay out what the semester will look like.”
Students from any major are welcome to join 5th Street Falls.
“We’ve had other people from other majors show up, but it’s definitely more naturally tailored towards business,” Kult said.
Anstead and Kult shared some advice for students wanting to start or rebrand their own club.
Commitment, uniqueness and being passionate about the club one is leading are things they listed as being important.
“Check yourself in terms of commitment. Make sure if you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it well and you actually care about it,” Kult said. “As students, we get all kinds of information inside the classroom. Think of what you want to offer them that they aren’t already getting.”
“Make sure you have a stake in it,” Anstead said. “And that it’s something that you’re passionate about.”