CMU students learn 
The Point of business

Seated around a table in the midst of construction, students involved in “The Point” discuss the floor plans for the future business with the E-Club advisor. From left to right are Johnny Nitti, Colorado Mesa University business instructor and club advisor Georgann Jouflas, Jeremy Lee, Sjoni Levi and Brian Watson.

Seated around a table in the midst of construction, students involved in “The Point” discuss the floor plans for the future business project with the E-Club advisor. From left to right are Johnny Nitti, Colorado Mesa University business instructor and club advisor Georgann Jouflas,  Jeremy Lee, Sjoni Levi and Brian Watson.

Speaking plainly, Colorado Mesa University business management instructor Georgann Jouflas and her class of entrepreneurs want to create a place for hands-on learning “where ideas can have sex.”

The learning space, a pub and restaurant, is to be called The Point and will be situated at the location where Yoshi Bowl once operated, 1230 N. 12th St.

Beer, wine, food and coffee will be served. Opening day is expected in late September.

“Entrepreneurs come from every background. There’s artists who are entrepreneurs and there’s engineers who are entrepreneurs,” senior entrepreneurship major Brian Watson said. “So one of the things that we’re trying to accomplish here ... more than anything, it’s hands-on learning. No matter what your background is, you have the potential to utilize those skills and learn.”

The Point hopes to attract music majors, art majors, environmental science majors and others willing to combine their skills to create a successful business.

Jouflas worked about two years to persuade CMU administrators that the best way to prepare her students for the 21st century job market is through hands-on training at a real business of their own creation.

“I really believe that students don’t learn how to be innovative. They don’t learn how to problem-solve,” Jouflas said. “They know how to listen to lectures, take tests and then flush the material.”

What employers want is people who can solve problems, communicate and innovate, she said.

“How innovation and applied learning come together is you have to do something. You learn by doing and failing at it and doing it again and failing,” Jouflas said.

The Point will provide space for students to experience trial and error in a business setting. They are not free, however, to operate at a loss. The experiment will be deemed a success to the extent the restaurant and pub becomes self-supporting, a top goal for all of the students involved.

“Contrary to popular belief, it won’t be a place to get drunk. I wouldn’t be involved in it if it was that,” Jouflas said.

Instead, the students, who major in a variety of disciplines, plan to create a place where their peers can mix with non-student members of the Grand Junction community and exchange ideas.

“Nobody does it on their own,” Jouflas said. “The point here is, academics doesn’t do that. They teach in silos. We’re trying to teach them to talk together and work together.”

If the experiment works as planned, managing The Point will instill confidence in the students, who will be able to draw on their experiences and apply what they learned after they leave CMU.

“Being an entrepreneurship major, I pretty much see this as practice for opening up my own business,” senior Johnny Nitti said. “I get to go see all the tribulations (that come with) going through the state and going through the city and getting all the permits we need. That’s my goal when I graduate. This is the perfect way for me to get experience while I’m here at school.”

“There’s so much more to starting a company than you think,” Nitti said.

First the class had to decide what type of culture they wanted their business to create. Next came decisions about food and drink. Those decisions were influenced greatly by practical considerations like cost.

To operate a kitchen at the location, for example, the college would have been required to purchase a grease trap at a cost of $60,000 — well over the budget for their start-up, senior business and economics major Jeremy Lee said.

Instead of preparing food on site, it will be cooked at the college and delivered to The Point, where it will be re-heated when ordered, Lee said.

Jouflas declined to discuss the specific budget for the experiment, but senior business management student Sjoni Levi said it was less than $50,000.

Serving beer and wine will help The Point be self-sustaining, Jouflas said.

Six managers spent the summer planning to open the business, each with an area of primary responsibility.

For Lee, that meant taking the idea through the government process, including obtaining the go-ahead from the Grand Junction Public Works and Planning Department and the Colorado Department of Revenue, which granted The Point’s liquor license.

“It was actually a little simpler than I thought,” Lee said. “People attach a lot of stigma to bureaucracy, that it’s this huge, slow-moving vehicle, and it is, but the city planners in Grand Junction were very helpful. They walked us through, step by step.”


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