Written by Shoemaker Scholar Abigail Wirtz
Matthew Joseph is a junior and Entrepreneurship. Additionally he has a minor in corporate innovation, certificate in business as well as a psychology major. Matthew tries to not put himself in a box on what college should look like which allows him to use entrepreneurship as a part of earning his degree. Understanding the psychology behind consumer decisions is a skill that has plenty of applications in business and education. Finally, Matthew is the president of CEO club at IU which supports other student entrepreneurs who are trying to start a business.
What is CEO?
The Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization is the largest and most developed entrepreneurship club at IU. It’s a community of past, present, and future student entrepreneurs with a desire to make an impact. CEO is cross-campus, because entrepreneurship is for anyone and everyone. It’s a place for people who want to use something innovative to solve a problem in their space, whatever that might be.
What is your story?
My interest in entrepreneurship started when I was 12. Sustainability was getting big, and my friend and I wanted to come up with an idea to help. We decided to start a solar car company, and made a prototype of a solar-powered battery that would make a motor turn. It took a lot of work, but seeing the motor start to spin that first time…my heart started spinning. I fell in love with how an idea in the back of your mind can become something real and tangible, something that can make a difference.
I started a series of businesses in high school, one of which was social media marketing. I dealt with a lot of rejection – it was hard work just to get my first meeting. I actually skateboarded to that first meeting and stashed my board in a bush before going inside. It worked, though – I did free work for an art museum in Jacksonville, and I learned a ton. I learned not just how to sell to someone, but also how to help them.
Now, I’ve realized that business is a means to making a difference, not an end. I asked myself, what does it mean to make an impact? What are the real roots of the problems people are facing, and how can I help those? Those questions led me to the Self-Insight Journey. The Self-Insight Journey is a way to help someone become more self-aware and live in line with their values. It gives someone the structure to help them find answers for what it means to live a good life. Now, actually, Self-Insight Journey is in The Shoebox, too! Overall, I’ve been through a lot of realizations, a lot of failure, but it always shows me how fun this journey is.
How did you get to be president of CEO? What were some of your entrepreneurial and innovative highlights?
I wanted to join CEO before I even got to IU. In fact, it was one of the reasons I came here. One of my first days at IU, I went to the Kelley Carnival, and I went straight to the CEO booth. I told them I wanted to be involved. Anthony Castelvecci (then-president of CEO) said to me, “Welcome to the family.”
While in CEO, I kept reiterating my interest in doing whatever I could to help. I got a position as a Freshman Representative, and soon after became Chief Outreach Officer. My mission then and now is to spread entrepreneurship cross-campus. Last fall, I ran for president of the club, and won. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about what I need to improve on and how to be a better leader. I think back to that first time walking in and being welcomed, amazed to think that I’m president now. I want anyone and everyone to feel welcome here, the way I did when I first started.
What’s going on this year with CEO?
CEO has a lot going on this year! We’re excited to have in-person meetings, first off. This year, we’re bringing in speakers – IU alumni and Bloomington locals – who are entrepreneurs or people who work with entrepreneurs. We’re hosting pitch competitions and doing cross-campus collaborations. One collaboration we did last spring was with the School of Education. We brought everyone together to ideate about how we can make zoom and online education better equipped for how students think and learn. On top of that, we also have CEO Consulting, a student consulting team that exists to help student entrepreneurs with their idea.
What has been your favorite part of being in CEO?
Undoubtedly, the community. If I had to put it in one word, it would be family. CEO brings together people who think differently. There are people who have been working on their business since middle school, and there are people who have never started a business but are passionate about a certain industry. Entrepreneurship is lonely, and CEO is a place where you can find people who are going through the same things you are. It’s truly the only place where being an entrepreneur feels normal, where you can be comfortable sharing your story.
What would you say to anyone thinking about joining CEO?
If you’re thinking about it, then you’re already a part of the family. You have some level of interest, and that’s all you need. There’s no hierarchy here – just students trying to make the most of their time at IU.
Are you open to connecting with other students if they are interested? How can people get involved with CEO?
I love talking to people. If you have any questions about entrepreneurship or psychology, a business idea, you’re interested in CEO, or you want to know more about the Self Insight Journey, just reach out by phone at (904) 703-3378, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org