“I have an idea for a business. Can you help me?” As more students choose to explore entrepreneurship as their career path, this is a question that many of us are hearing more often these days. Faculty and staff in entrepreneurship programs can start to get overwhelmed with requests for assistance, but we hate to turn an aspiring entrepreneur away.
The University of Miami Launch Pad
offers a model that may help create some order out of the entrepreneurial chaos many of us are facing in our programs.
Launch Pad was initiated to encourage entrepreneurship across the campus at the University of Miami. And it has delivered on this goal. Susan Amat, Executive Director of the Launch Pad, reports that it has led to 80 ventures that have created over 200 jobs.
But, in developing a program to encourage entrepreneurship, they have developed a structure to their website that might help any busy entrepreneurship program.
In many ways Launch Pad is structured like all of our websites, with links to events, staff listings, and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.
But the way it connects people to the entrepreneurship program is what is innovative. The “Get Involved” feature to the website offers a model of how to manage the flow of entrepreneurs into our programs and manage the data we gather (or don’t gather) from them. It has three elements. First, it gathers all of the pertinent information, such as basic contact information and whether the person signing up is a student, an alumnus, an investor, or a service provider. Step two records information about the business through a venture assessment form. The third step connects the entrepreneur with one of the faculty/staff venture consultants.
One advantage such a system offers is that it automates the process of building a single database of all of those who come in contact with an entrepreneurship program. Better databases will help with our internal program assessments and with external reporting about the activities of our entrepreneurship programs.
Another advantage is that it helps us be more efficient and effective. Every indication is that our programs will be continuing to grow. Generation Z is coming to our campuses and they are going to be just as entrepreneurial as Generation Y has been. It is also clear that many of us will continue to face resource challenges due to tight university budgets, weak endowments, and difficulty in finding new financial support due to the ongoing recession. So we all need to be thinking of how to serve more students, while doing so with the same or even fewer resources.
Grocery Bags and Resumes?
Ray Smilor of TCU
presented an experiential exercise called Bag Resume to 3-E Learning
at the USASBE
meeting this past January. It received the second place award among the many experiential exercises submitted this year.
Smilor’s exercise is quite simple and very creative. It uses a grocery bag and a resume to teach students about creativity and opportunity recognition. That’s right – a grocery bag and a resume.
He tells the students that they ”may present your background, experience, credentials, accomplishments and interests—or whatever you want—in whatever way you wish as long as whatever you decide to present fits in the bag.” They each get two minutes to present their bag resume to the class.
Smilor then assigns a written reflection memo in which the students link their experiences in this exercise with what they are learning about related to creativity and the entrepreneurial process.
“Students love this,” says Smilor. “They say it gives them a new view to themselves and their classmates, and it opens their minds to making new types of connections in viewing opportunity.”
You can find the exercise here
, with links to documentation that will facilitate using it in your classes.
Blending an Accelerator with a Certificate Program
A growing number of universities are adding accelerator to their entrepreneurship programs. We have offered examples of some of them in previous issues ofThe Entrepreneurship Educator.
The IEL’s Advanced Ventures Certificate Program
is specifically designed for entrepreneurs looking to grow their existing ventures, as well as for new ventures that have demonstrated sufficient progress in their early stages. During this 11-week course, entrepreneurs work on their business concepts within a structured curriculum and develop executable business plans designed to promote business growth and obtain start-up and expansion financing.
During the program students receive training, one-on-one advising and consulting services, fifteen weeks of mentoring from faculty and/or accredited investors and successful entrepreneurs, and space in the IEL accelerator. They also participate in several regional pitch events. IEL’s program is a fee based program, which is different than many accelerators that provide seed capital and charge no fee to participants.
Raul A. Deju, Program Director, reports that 70% of graduating students who have gone through the IEL program have raised additional funding.
You can contact Dr. Deju for more information: email@example.com