Organization:Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization

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The Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization, or C.E.O. for short, is a group founded by  Gerald Hills and John Hughes which focuses on bringing entrepreneurial mindsets and opportunities to college and university students worldwide. With over 250 chapters representing all 50 states and many countries around the world, CEO continues to grow and support future entrepreneurs for years to come.

The main idea behind CEO is to inform students of the possibilities of entrepreneurship and give them the networking opportunities as well as events to practice and hone in on their entrepreneurial skills, no matter what major they are. This results in an end goal of helping students start their own businesses through a global support network.

With a vision to eventually help over 400 colleges gain a program for students to find and follow their entrepreneurial dreams, CEO continues to develop, improve, and grow every year.


The 1970s saw the inception, development and growth of a new and exciting field of study in business and higher education – entrepreneurship. During this time, very few universities offered coursework for students. Students interested in becoming entrepreneurs had very few resources, opportunities, and outlets to help them reach their entrepreneurial dreams and goals. No national student organization served this interest either.

In 1983, a meeting was held in a restaurant to discuss developing an entrepreneurship organization for students who wanted to one day become an entrepreneur. Dr, Gerry Hills, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), called and facilitated the meeting of 12 Chicago-area university students. John Hughes and Jean Thorne of the Coleman Foundation contributed, along with Verne Harnish, who was working with Dr. Fran Jabara to create the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs (ACE), was in attendance.

From this innovative meeting stemmed the origins of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs of Illinois Conference. The first of which was hosted by UIC’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies with the faculty and students of DePaul, Loyola, Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University assisting in the planning and implementation of the Conference. The Coleman Foundation generously contributed as the conference sponsor and continues there today. In 1985, the conference’s name was changed to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs of the Midwest Conference.

After the conference’s continuous years of success and growth, Dr. Hills refocused his attention on creating a national/global organization supporting student entrepreneurship, the same objective as in 1983. In 1997, the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) was launched. The first two national conferences were called “Pilot” meetings with more than 700 students representing 100 universities in attendance.

In 1999, the Kaufman Foundation joined the Coleman Foundation as a key supporter of CEO. With Kauffman’s support, CEO was able to hire full-time staff and more and more CEO Chapters began appearing on campuses. In recent years, several other important sponsors have joined with CEO, including Northwestern Mutual. From this growth of supporters, CEO has began to hold yearly conferences (sometimes multiple in a year), with recent ones coming close to 1,500 students in attendance.


CEO aims to inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and strive for opportunity through enterprise generation. Its main objective is to encourage students to create their own business.

How does it achieve all of this? CEO provides students with networking events, competition, chapter, activities, regional and national conferences.

To learn more watch this video!


  • Passion leads to purpose- The clue is to do what you love. Money and success will come then.

  • Take action!- There is no time to wait. Start NOW!

  • Be persistent- It is not about how long it takes, nor how many times you fail. Perseverance and conviction are what really matter.

  • Young entrepreneurs can succeed

  • Create opportunitiesfor experiential education. School also contributes with entrepreneurial quests, such as experience and hands-on learning, all fundamental aspects.

  • Be acceptingof all viewpoints, ideas and entrepreneurial interests.

  • Support and mentorstudent entrepreneurship in a culture that is morally correct, positive, supportive and non-self-promotional.

  • Who you know is key!- Building networks and contacts is vital to get along with people that can help along the project.

Distinct Differences From Other Offerings

The Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization provides an on-campus presence in the form of a local chapter. Although similar to other organizations, this is vastly different from on campus clubs, as it offers more opportunities through a connected network of many colleges and universities with the same program.

National Conference

  • Join nearly 1,500 college students, faculty, and young entrepreneurs from around the world who attend the 2 ½ day CEO National Conference to network, learn, and be inspired.
  • Join to pursue your entrepreneurial passions. Over 80 outstanding entrepreneurs and business leaders will share their ideas and expertise as to how they launched their businesses.
  • Join to hear the lessons other student entrepreneurs have learned, and where they are today.

National Elevator Pitch Competition

During the Global Conference, CEO orchestrates the largest student pitch competition in the United States and the world.  Our overall goal for the Pitch Competition is to encourage all stages of business concepts to participate.  This competition is a great opportunity to pitch business concepts to a panel of judges with a chance to win financial funding for your business.  The pitch competition is structured around a quick one minute and thirty second pitch, essentially, the time it would take you to pitch your idea while you ride up an elevator.  Presenting yourself effectively is an essential tool in the world of business.  A well planned pitch can open doors to success in your future endeavors.  Idea’s may be at any stage and the preliminary competition is split into two separate tracks, concepts that are in the idea stage, and concepts that are beyond the idea stage.

2017 CEO Award Categories

Entrepreneur chapter and individual winners will be awarded for the following categories:

  • Outstanding Student Entrepreneur of the Year - $500 Cash Award
  • Outstanding CEO Chapter Leader - 1st $200, 2nd $100 Cash Award
  • Outstanding CEO Chapter Advisor - 1st $200, 2nd $100 Cash Award
  • Global Chapter of the Year - $250 Cash Award
  • Outstanding Marketing and/or Social Media Award - 1st $200, 2nd $100 Cash Award
  • Best Cross Campus Innovation & Networking Award - 1st $200, 2nd $100 Cash Award
  • Outstanding Chapter Revenue Generating Initiative - 1st $200, 2nd $100 Cash Award

Why Become Part of CEO?

  • Access to a network of global/national collegiate entrepreneurs

  • Chapter Awards

  • Access to live webinar's featuring successful entrepreneurs

  • The Collegiate Entrepreneur newsletter, published quarterly and online

  • Chapter speakers, business start-ups, teaching entrepreneurship, internships

  • Discounted registration fees to the Global CEO Conference

  • Communication on entrepreneurial challenges through the CEO online Social Networking Community

  • Student entrepreneur competitions, including the elevator pitch at the national conference

  • Chapter development support

  • Leadership training

  • Discounts on products and services

Impact Achieved for Students and Campus

The focus of strategic entrepreneurship (SE) is broad and rich, building on research from multiple disciplines such as economics, psychology, and engineering, along with other disciplines in management including organizational behavior and organization theory. We examine the contributions of strategic management and entrepreneurship to SE. Building on a previous model of SE, we develop an input-process-output model to extend our understanding of the SE construct. We examine the resource inputs into SE, such as individual knowledge and skills. In addition, we explore the resource orchestration processes that are important for SE and the outcomes, including creating value for customers, building wealth for stockholders, and creating benefits for other stakeholders, especially for society at large. Individual entrepreneurs also benefit through financial wealth, but other outcomes such as personal satisfaction and fulfillment of personal needs (e.g., self-actualization) may be of equal or even greater importance. Therefore, we incorporate in the model of SE multilevel outcomes that motivate entrepreneurs.

Having a CEO chapter on campus provides a University with a way to promote entrepreneurship among students, as well as gain national recognition for entrepreneurial activities on campus. This is especially helpful to schools that may not have dedicated business departments or entrepreneurship courses by providing the university with a way to commercialize student designs.

For universities with multiple courses, there appear to be three conceptual bases, sometimes interspersed, including the business functions, the business plan, and the business life cycle. It was agreed that entrepreneurship coursework should be more experientially oriented than other business school coursework, that the involvement of adjunct faculty should not be minimized, and that faculty research is important to an entrepreneurship education program.

Entrepreneurial skills also aid in other aspects of school.  With an entrepreneurial-mind, students can be more innovative with their classroom projects.  Senior design projects can be taken to the next level, pastimplementation, and be marketed. Outside of the classroom, students can utilize their entrepreneurial skills in other organizations they are involved in.  These skills can apply to holding an executive position in the organization or when marketing the organization to other students and employers.

Steps Required to bring Resource to Campus

Want to register?

There are different Membership options to become part of CEO.

  • University CEO Chapter: Onboarding a new CEO demands encouragement from both a Faculty Advisor and Chapter President, with benefits that include CEO newsletters and mailing, discounted conference registration, and access to CEO Online Social Networking Community. Benefits from having a university membership include access to CEO newsletters and conference materials as well as the access to CEO Online Social Networking Community. There is a minimum of 10 members required to start/maintain an official CEO college/university chapter. Costs (annual dues):

  • Small club size (10-25): $150

  • Medium club size (25-50): $200

  • Large club size (>50): $250

There is a plus of $5 per Member for chapter insurance (pending).

  • Individual CEO Member - Non CEO Institution: Consider this possibility if launching a chapter is NOT an option on your campus. No access to CEO web platform or other club benefits, only individual member  benefits. Cost (annual due): $10.00.

  • Alumni CEO Member: Those who wish to be part of their student membership after graduating also can. Cost (annual due): $10.00

  • Career/Sponsor Provider: Any Corporation that want to support is also welcomed. It is important to consider that engaging entrepreneurs means a worthy acquisition. Cost (annual due): $100.00 (free for the first 30 days)

Contact Information

Related link:


Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Inc. TM | Global Headquarters

401 W. Kennedy Blvd.

Box 2F

Tampa, FL. 33606-1490


General Inquires

Phone: (813) 258-7236 (7CEO)


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