NAU professor gives back to the Flagstaff community

Posted: Thursday, March 5th 2015 at 2:26 PM

By RobinLi Uber, Student Writer

The W. A. Franke College of Business (FCB) faculty member and Entrepreneur in Residence Frank Spitznogle teaches students how to create feasible business plans by having them work on real projects for local businesses – and he’s looking for more projects.

Spitznogle teaches a senior-level manage-ment course titled “New Venture Planning and Business Plans,” as well as the MBA course “Business Consulting Practicum,” both of which focus on giving students experience with real-world clients, often from the local Flagstaff community or from within NAU.

“Typically we will take a class, divide it into teams, and each team in a semester will complete a business plan, either with a current company or to help start a new one,” Spitznogle said. These students already have 9 credit hours of entrepreneurial training at NAU.

For Spring 2015, his 58 students are taking on 11 projects total, which he says is typically how many projects he needs to give all of his students the opportunity to work with real clients. He is always looking for more projects, which end up being a win-win because the students get experience while the clients get a semester’s free business planning from a team of qualified students who are about to graduate.

His classes have already helped a number of local businesses with plans to either increase their current clientele or expand business.

“Last year for the Lumberyard, we did a major rework of their strategy to expand business. At the same time, we did a major rework of Mother Road Brewery’s business plan and [looked at] what they’re doing and where they’re heading,” Spitznogle said. 

Spitznogle uses his past experience in the business world to help his students become better professionals. He has spent the past 30 years helping in the start-up of 21 companies with business experience in 20 different countries. One of his most recent successful business start-ups was Colorado State University - Global Campus. This is a separate online university within the Colorado State University System rated by some as one of the best online universities in the U.S., where he was a member of its four-person founding team. The university employs significantly new online teaching methods originally developed by the Sloan Foundation. 

For the past decade, in addition to working on start-ups, Spitznogle has been teaching a variety of college-level business classes. For the past two years, he has taught them at NAU. 

Pulling engineering into the mix

Despite his wide variety of experience, Spitznogle said his work at NAU has been extremely exciting. His focus has been on strengthening the connection between the business school and the engineering school.

“Somewhere in their career the students may need to start a company...and we’ve taught them how to do the business side of it, but often they don’t know how to get started on the engineering side. Likewise, when engineering students get ready to start a company they often have no idea [how to do that] from a business point of view,” Spitznogle said. “I was hired to try to pull the two schools closer together in terms of what our students need when they graduate.” Four of this semester’s projects came from the engineering side of NAU.

“This has been a great challenge to me because it finally was a university that understood what they needed to do to bring engineering and business together with deans in each of the institutions that believe in what we’re trying to do,” Spitznogle said.

If you are interested in having your business used for one of Spitznogle’s projects, contact him at 928-523-7330 or at Your project does not need to have a engineering aspect to it for consideration.

Categories: flagstaff business news nau business news spring 2015 2015 frank spitznogle mother road brewery lumberyard fbn march issue 2015 robinli uber