Thursday, November 16, 2017

[182] Gigi’s Cupcakes founder to keynote MTSU’s Global Entrepreneurship Week

Series of speakers to provide insights on startups, family businesses

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business is again hosting a series of events and guest speakers to promote entrepreneurship by sharing insights and concepts to help students, faculty, staff and the wider community turn their ideas into a marketplace reality.

This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week activities run Nov. 13-16, highlighted by a keynote address Tuesday, Nov. 14, by Gina “Gigi” Butler, the Nashville entrepreneur who went from cleaning houses to founding the highly successful Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise.

Butler will speak from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Student Union Ballroom. She will share lessons from her journey of moving from California to Nashville in 1994 with $500 to her name, working a variety of jobs from waitressing to singing/songwriting to cleaning, before jumping into the gourmet cupcake business almost a decade ago with $33 in her bank account.

Success led to franchising the brand, now with over 100 Gigi’s Cupcakes locations in 23 states and growing. Along the way, she even appeared on the CBS reality program “Undercover Boss” in 2015. Learn more about her success story at

“Global Entrepreneurship Week is a great week for students to see entrepreneurship firsthand, to see people that have experienced it, that have started their own businesses,” said Stacy Aaron, administrative assistant in the Department of Management and coordinator of this year’s GEW activities.

• Kicking off the week will be Sarah Nuse, founder and CEO of Tippi Toes Dance Company, who will give a public talk from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, in the Student Union Ballroom.

The Bowling Green, Kentucky, resident created a franchise that offers dance and creative movement classes to child care centers, schools, play groups and various after school programs. Nuse, who appeared on the popular TV program “Shark Tank” a few years ago, has spread the franchise into 10 states since its founding in 1999.
• The MTSU Entrepreneurship Fair for high school students will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, in the Student Union Ballroom. Guest speaker will be John Bosworth, Music for Youth, at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

Students from Rutherford County high schools as well as from some schools in surrounding counties have been invited to pitch their business plans and ideas and set up displays that will be judged by faculty and business people that day under a variety of categories.

“It’s a really great thing for high schoolers to be involved with to get interested in entrepreneurship and thinking about business,” Aaron said. “So before they graduate high school, they get an idea if this is something they’d be interested in.”

• Aaron will be joined by Kristen Shanine, an assistant professor in the Department of Management, in hosting a Business Plan Competition Informational Session set for 11 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Business and Aerospace Building’s SunTrust Room, BAS S326.

The session will outline the process for entering the annual Business Plan Competition held each spring and is open to students and alumni. Winners in the competition can win cash prizes to launch their startup ideas.

• Speaker Greg Lewis, CEO of the Nashville-based Tennessee Center for Family Business, will wrap events up with a public address from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Student Union Ballroom. Lewis, an expert in organizational management, team building and generational leadership transition, will discuss the ins and outs of running family-owned businesses.

The week’s events are being held in conjunction with the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international celebration of innovators and job creators held each November. Gigi Butler's appearance is being sponsored by the Tennessee Small Business Development Center based at MTSU, while the Department of Management committee members coordinating the week's events include chair Josh Aaron, Stacy Aaron, Kristen Shanine, Ralph Williams, Adam Smith, Pat Geho, and Jinxing Yue.

Off-campus visitors attending the speaking events should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at A searchable campus parking map is available at

For more information, contact Stacy Aaron at 615-494-7708 or email

To learn more about MTSU’s entrepreneurship program within the Department of Management, visit

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