Newswise — Many students across Wichita State's campus have heard about Shocker Startup since it started just two years ago, and co-founders LaRissa Lawrie and Hannah Hund continue their efforts to get students of all disciplines involved in innovation and entrepreneurship. But WSU students aren't the only ones taking an interest in this student-led approach; Hund and Lawrie's ideas and success have expanded to the national level.

Most recently, the two seniors presented their work at VentureWell's OPEN 2017 conference in Washington, which focuses on spreading ideas on how students and faculty can encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education.

"It was a really interesting conference because of the diversity of the people there as well as their fields of study," says Lawrie. "There were entrepreneurship majors and Ph.D.s in engineering and liberal arts and sciences. It was really nice to see that everyone has a place in innovation and entrepreneurship."

With the help of Shocker Startup faculty advisor Gary Brooking, Hund and Lawrie submitted a poster to the OPEN 2017 poster competition that focused on how students can drive innovation on a campus, which was placed in the curriculum division.

"It was interesting because there wasn't a true place for what we're doing at Wichita State," says Lawrie. "No one else is doing it that we know of."

The curriculum category, in which they placed first, was made up of professors, administrators and faculty who were all presenting ideas on how to teach entrepreneurship. As the only students presenting in that category, Hund and Lawrie's poster was unique; it focused on how to get students to participate in entrepreneurship.

"One of the things that was heavily featured in our poster was the interdisciplinary aspect of our initiatives," says Lawrie. "Shocker Startup is a student organization that's open to everyone. We believe really amazing things happen when people of different backgrounds come together."

Hund says this is evident in the success the two of them have had together. She is an engineering and fine arts student and Lawrie studies strategic communication.

"It's a huge testament to the success of the program because it's still successful and sustainable now that we're not leading it," says Hund. "That's just further proof of the concept of student sustainability in innovation and entrepreneurship."

While they don't lead Shocker Startup anymore, Hund and Lawrie still promote their ideas across campus through their pop-up classes and guest lectures. They talk about design thinking, rapid prototyping and creative confidence skills, but their main focus is on helping students focus on their mission instead of their major.

"It's really powerful because one of the challenges of entrepreneurship is making sure it doesn't get pigeonholed into just being for engineering or entrepreneurship majors," says Hund. "When you talk about your mission and your goals, it's easier to see how you'll need entrepreneurship to achieve it, which makes it really accessible."

Lawrie says the goal of Shocker Startup is to not only raise awareness for how people can use entrepreneurship to further their goals, but give them the vehicle to meet other people who can help them do it.

Hund relates it to the interdisciplinary nature of a music production. There are so many elements that go in to it, with different components of business, technical production and marketing, along with the musicians and conductors.

"I saw that we were doing that in music, but when it came to engineering and entrepreneurial projects, there was no place for people from different disciplines to come together and work on team projects," says Hund. "Creating this organization gives people the opportunity to meet students from outside their own college clubs."

One of the things Lawrie and Hund made clear in their poster was that their success had a lot to do with their evaluation of the climate and culture at Wichita State. They say they were fortunate because WSU has a culture right now that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship and encourages faculty to make changes in the ecosystem.

"Students are the future," says Hund. "If we want to find a way to change the world around us or help others, we need to be able to have the tools and skillsets to make businesses and affect our economy."

The mission of Wichita State University ( is to be an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good. Wichita State is a doctoral research university enrolling nearly 15,000 students and offering 59 undergraduate degree programs in more than 150 areas of study in seven undergraduate colleges. The Graduate School offers 45 master's and 12 doctoral degrees that offer study in more than 100 areas. Wichita State's Innovation Campus ( is an interconnected community of partnership buildings, laboratories and mixed-use areas where students, faculty, staff, entrepreneurs and businesses have access to the university's vast resources and technology. For more information, follow us on Twitter at and Facebook at
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Contact: LaRissa Lawrie, [email protected] and Hannah Hund, [email protected].