Montana State University Billings students hope their small business selling flash drives will help other students in a big way.
Students in associate professor Jenny Leonard’s small business and entrepreneurship class are required to start a business.
One team of five students decided to sell 2-gigabyte flash drives, storage devices smaller than a pack of gum that allow files to be transferred from one computer to another.
Because Leonard encouraged her class to think about creating businesses that serve a social need, the students decided to donate some of the money they earn to a scholarship for College of Business students, said Jack Perry, one of the students on the team selling the flash drives.
The other students are Laurin Hobbs, Cody Valkenburg, Jessie Ridgway and Brett Taylor.
If they sell all 250 of the MS-UsBee flash drives, they will be able to donate $250 to the College of Business Alumni Excellence Award, an existing scholarship that benefits business students.
The students also are inviting local businesses to contribute to that scholarship in any amount, Perry said.
Perry, 40, is a senior business management major who will graduate in April.
He grew up on a ranch near Judith Gap. After graduating from high school, Perry attended both the University of Montana in Missoula and Montana State University in Bozeman.
“I’m on the 23-year plan,” he joked, about his return to college last year to complete a degree.
During his hiatus from school, he was busy helping his parents with their ranch, working as a carpenter and starting a custom leather business, Cowboy by Design.
When he went back to school, so did his wife, Ruth, who earned a degree in computer programming from the MSU Billings College of Technology last year.
She now works in her field in Billings.
They are the parents of two sons, Jim, 8; and Joe, 6.
Perry and his wife returned to school not only to broaden their own career opportunities, but to teach their sons the value of an education and encourage them to go on to college, too.
Perry is pleased with the program and faculty at MSU Billings.
“The faculty treats you like a future colleague and they are interested in you beyond the classroom,” he said.
An aptitude in math helped Perry settle into the numbers-heavy business curriculum.
He also likes the way in business classes such as accounting, that as long as the numbers add up, “there’s always a right answer,” he said.
He’s doing well in school. His near perfect grade point average has been marred only by one “B” he earned in a class “north of the ditch” on the nonbusiness side of the campus.
After graduation, he plans to go on for a master’s degree in business administration through the University of Montana’s Billings program.
After that, he’s considering several options including creating his own contracting business.