Grad student’s plan ignites business with colleagues

Christopher Strahl is a vibrant business graduate student at WSU. With the support of Joe Harris, business development specialist at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and Bintong Chen, business professor with WSU online learning, Strahl is a prime example of the “From Learning to Practical Application” logic. That is, he uses real-world business applications for in-class studies and homework assignments. And then he applies them to the real world.

“I’ve been doing business plans since high school, but as far as competitions in college go, I’ve been in four,” Strahl said. “Business plan competitions provide a unique look at what it takes to actually start a business from the ground up. It’s a true test of all the knowledge you’ve learned in the classroom.”

Strahl has presented a class consulting project to the marketing director of the Seattle Seahawks; he has worked with professionals at Microsoft, Nordstrom, Boeing, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and with several departments at WSU.

Currently, he is working on a business venture with graduate student Chris Bloom; business alumnus Casey Brazil; business professor Harris and computer science undergraduate Scott Robinson. Their innovative online venture cannot be described because it is still in negotiations, but it is expected to become a reality in 2006.

Proof that the “From Learning to Practical Application” approach to business education works is exemplified by Stanford alumni such as Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation; Jeffrey Bewkes, chairman and CEO of HBO; and Richard Fairbank, chairman and CEO of Capital One. With his interest and acumen, it seems Strahl eventually could join their ranks.

But when asked what his dream business would be, Strahl’s answer seems to reflect his love for the process, rather than a particular job or single business.

“I want to continue to work with young people and universities,” he said. “Places like WSU are rich with new ideas and fresh talent.

“Experience is critical to the success of any business, but it’s hard to beat the spirit and dedication of youth.”

As personified in Chris Strahl.