Category Archives: American Exceptionalism

News from the World of High Growth Student Startups | GrubHub | Packback Books | #Entrepreneurship #Dissertation

Been awhile lots of research and busy with new opportunities at George Mason Universities. The Campus is indeed the frontier. Three items from the frontier…

University of Chicago Booth School high growth startup GrubHub has filed for an IPO. From winning the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge to raising millions in venture capital, Matt Maloney‘s startup has been on the move.

Big celebrations in Chicago and at 1871 as a student startup from Illinois State, Packback Books, appeared on Shark Tank last week. They closed a deal with Mark Cuban. The company, founded Kasey Gandham, Mike Shannon and Nick Currier offers short term, pay per use digital textbook rentals. Kind of like renting a movie from itunes etc. Big changes in #highered #textbook market!

My dissertation, The Campus as Frontier for Entrepreneurship: High Growth Student Startups at U.S. Universities, will be completed in April 2014. The dissertation will include a case study, a database of high growth student entrepreneurs, their firms, and universities. Additionally, the work will propose 5 archetypes of high growth student entrepreneurs and will suggest a frontier framework for evaluating U.S. higher education and its value. I look forward to sharing this work as I complete by PhD from GMU’s SPP.

 

 

 

 

G3Box IndieGoGo | Student Entrepreneurs | #socent | ASU

Last year I interviewed 3 of the founders of G3Box when I visited ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative at the Skysong campus. It was during the heavy data collection phase of my dissertation research on student entrepreneurs at US Universities and Colleges.

The G3Box team recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign and are about to place their first maternity clinic in the developing world. Their goals is to  cut down on fatalities and complications during child birth.  Their vision is solve global health challenges by connecting multiple organizations. This team of ASU student entrepreneurs is truly inspiring.

G3Box Video Trailer – YouTube.

Venture College @BoiseStateLive Launches in August

Received a thoughtful email from Greg Hahn at Boise State University the other day telling me about their new Venture College. Sounds very exciting and it seems they have buy in and support from the entrepreneurial community in Boise. Can’t wait to hear about their incoming class. From Venture College’s homepage:

Venture College prepares students to launch businesses or nonprofits. This new, non-credit program is open to all full-time students in any major , especially non-business students. Students who successfully complete the program receive the Boise State University Venture College Badge.

Start-up is Fall 2013. While the application deadline has passed, we are accepting applications for the wait list. If you would like to submit an application and be added to our wait list click here to apply. We expect to notify wait list applicants on May 15 as to whether or not there is room in the program.

Interestingly, when you visit the Why Venture College page you read this…

Boise State is taking a leadership role in developing models to teach the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.  We are challenging traditional educational strategies and piloting new methods for superior, relevant education. One of the new models is Venture College, a skills-based program that will prepare our students, especially non-business students, to launch enterprises of economic and social value, some while they are still students.

Venture College will provide self-paced, on demand access to knowledge, intensive mentoring and an opportunity to compete for resources needed to start a business.

Venture College is a unique university-wide initiative independent of any academic college and structured as a concurrent, non-credit program for degree seeking students.  This independence from traditional course, credit and accreditation requirements frees Venture College to deliver an innovative and rigorous non-traditional experience for those students, regardless of discipline, who have a passion for starting their own businesses or working in new ventures.

Pretty exciting, glad to have learned about Venture College at Boise State and we’ll see what the Broncos come out with and what the playbook looks like in August 2013 when the first class begins.

via Venture College | Green light your dreams.

CA Crazy | Bold Move To #MOOC Sends Shock Waves, Details Scarce | The Chronicle of Higher Education

California politicians want to use MOOCs to satiate those on waiting lists for basic classes at public institutions of higher education. Interesting approach, looking forward to watching this unfold. As with all things, California’s size has the ability to alter policy across the country and even the world. From Chronicle of Higher Education:

Senate Bill 520, sponsored by State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who is president pro tem of the Senate, calls for establishing a statewide platform through which students who have trouble getting into certain low-level, high-demand classes could take approved online courses offered by providers outside the state’s higher-education system. If the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, state colleges and universities could be compelled to accept credits earned in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, bringing the controversial courses into the mainstream faster than even their proponents had predicted.

But right now SB 520 is just a two-page “spot bill,” a legislative placeholder to be amended with details later. And for those concerned about the consequences of a sudden embrace of a relatively new enterprise such as MOOCs, the devil may be in those details. Who will approve the courses? What role will faculty members really have? Will student financial aid apply to paid online courses? How will the revenue collected by the companies benefit the colleges? The students?

At a news conference announcing the bill, Mr. Steinberg acknowledged that such a bold move could be expected to cause “some fear, and sometimes some upset.” He took pains to emphasize that the legislation “does not represent a shift in funding priority” for higher education in California, and is not intended to introduce “a substitution for campus-based instruction.””This is about helping students,” he said. “We would be making a big mistake if we did not take advantage of the technological advances in our state” to do so.

via A Bold Move Toward MOOCs Sends Shock Waves, but Details Are Scarce – Government – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Gates Solution for #HigherEd | Yoda | Inside Higher Ed

I didn’t see Bill Gates’ keynote at #SXSWedu, but I really enjoyed this piece by John Warner that takes on Gates’ use of the Yoda-Luke relationship in support of online learning as personalized learning. From Warner in Inside Higher Ed:

The assumptions that Gates and others like him bring to these discussions is that education, as is, is too expensive. After all, tuition is rising faster than inflation and college is threatening to become a bad investment. Technology, Gates argues, has the potential to make college cheaper, for example by not needing as many professors since, what the heck, we’ve got Yoda on tape!

Like Gates, I’m distressed by rising tuition and the strain it puts on my students. Many more of them are taking on shocking amounts of debt, or trying to work full-time jobs while also being full-time students.

But I get distressed when the discussion turns immediately towards the corporate buzzwords of “efficiency” and “productivity.” In the 90’s, when unemployment was 4% and we were all getting rich on our shares of Pets.com, I don’t remember people falling over themselves criticizing our system of higher education.

Not that we can’t get better, but the truth is, we’re actually pretty good at it. The teaching/learning model is not particularly mysterious. Students benefit from being in the presence of their Jedi-masters. Sometimes a hologram is okay, but it isn’t a substitute for the real, little green thing.

I am a huge proponent of the campus given that my research hypothesizes some entrepreneurial value on campus. We know Gates fully knows the value of the density of people and face to face interactions that a campus provides. His interactions in both his high school and at Harvard were crucial to his early development and the creation of Microsoft. Enjoy the article.

via Bill Gates Has a Solution for Higher Education: Yoda | Inside Higher Ed.

The Weirdness of SXSWedu | Hack Education

I’ve been to Austin 4 times in my life but all trips were before “Keep Austin Weird” was a tag line. I’ve never been to SXSW or the newer SXSWEdu, but am considering attending it next year. Audrey Watters at Hack Education has a very interesting take on vibe of the event and some of the ‘weirdness’ — from a divide between educators and entrepreneurs to sponsor influence. Enjoy.

And it’s rarely the panels or keynotes themselves that are the most rewarding at any conference. Rather it’s the hallway and dinner conversations. These are more likely when and where those difficult and productive conversations happen. I do appreciate that SXSWedu provided more physical spaces and allotted times to encourage this sort of thing; but I can’t help but think that a more unconference-y SXSWedu would be weirder, less scripted, less corporate, and as such mo’ better. Looking at what SXSW Interactive has become, however, I won’t hold my breath.

Like all events that I attend, it’s the people — face-to-face — that make the travel worth it. New friends. Old friends. People I haven’t seen since last year in Austin —that’s key and that could well be the makings of a nascent SXSWedu community. But it’s pretty damn nascent, and I do wonder how much damage that “tension” between educators and entrepreneurs and that obvious corporate agenda has done to it.

So will I go back next year? I don’t know. It depends on if you’re going. It depends on the major sponsor, and hence the keynote speaker. (I have my predictions already about who that’ll be. Do you?) And frankly I think it depends, a year from now, on how “weird” — “punk” weird or “puke!” weird — ed-tech has become.

I am disappointed that the schism between entrepreneurs and educators is so obvious at SXSW and want to believe there are many natural points of shared interest, goals, and even techniques. Love the graphic below that was included in the piece.

SXSWEDU 2013 BINGO

via The Weirdness of SXSWedu.

ACE Supports So Called Disruptions in Higher Education Business Models | Inside Higher Ed

I love studying/being part of higher education right now. It is the perfect confluence of my startup experiences/business education and my PhD research and teaching/work at the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship. I am by no means part of the industry elite — never been to an ACE event or even a traditional academic conference — but I do enjoy reading about them. From Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed:

The council says it wants more students to earn college credit for learning that occurs outside the college classroom. Some of these credit pathways are trendy and new; others have been around for decades. But interest in prior learning assessment has grown rapidly, particularly during the last six months, and ACE is riding the wave.

ACE’s leaders say they are giving a boost to alternative credit pathways because of the college “completion agenda,” work force development and money worries that are buffeting colleges.“We are experiencing a confluence of forces of change,” Molly Broad, the council’s president, recently told the University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents. “All of this coming together is persuasive that business as usual is not in the future cards and we must innovate.

“While it’s known primarily as a lobby and membership group, ACE, whose annual meeting opened Sunday, has long had a hand in prior learning assessment. The council started issuing credit recommendations for military service shortly after World War II, and added the assessment of corporate training programs for credit in 1974. These days students can get transcripts for ACE’s credit recommendations for $20 a pop. The council has issued 63,000 credit transcripts since 2001.

The article goes on to explain in great detail the recent, large push towards awarding credits for ‘alternative’ learning — ie work experience or MOOCs and a variety of other options.  Its an interesting debate and it underscores how much people still value degrees even with the push to self-led learning (Uncollege), dropping out, badges, and all of the other opportunities being presented to today’s learners.  Degree attainment is a policy goal of President Obama and many other leaders — whether it crosses a point of diminishing returns. But with technology, budget challenges, debt reflux, etc… its a really interesting time for higher education.

Btw, for many colleges these alternative credits could be a gold mine. Its kind of like Amazon.com’s marketplace — where Amazon.com plays host to a buyer and seller and collects basic fees, and often upsells both parties on more items/services. This business model is much more high margin (profitable) than Amazon actually stocking and selling things themselves.

Also, while we are talking Amazon, lets think Kindle/ebook model — digital products served on demand with few physical activities and interactions before, during or after the sale. MOOCs/distance are the proxy for higher education. Like the Amazon marketplace model, this model should be higher margin than traditional sales, distribution, delivery, and service — even compared to Amazon’s original model of selling books online only (which was radical at the time).

Enjoy Fain’s piece and let me know what ACE’s angle is?

via ACE doubles down on prior learning assessment | Inside Higher Ed.

NYTimes.com on American Exceptionalism or Rather America Mediocrity

NY Times writer Scott Shane takes a look at American Exceptionalism through the prism of our politicians. Its an interesting, if rather stilted piece painting American Exceptionalism as some kind of opiate of the masses.

Shane writes the following:

The roots of this American trait are often traced to the famous shipboard sermon the Puritan lawyer John Winthrop preached on his way to help found the Massachusetts Bay Colony nearly five centuries ago.“We must consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill — the eyes of all people are upon us.” Winthrop’s metaphor has had a long life in American speechifying, prominently quoted by both President John F. Kennedy and Reagan. But if, for Winthrop, the image was something the colony should aspire to, for modern politicians it is often a boast of supposed accomplishment, a way of combating pessimists and asserting American greatness, whatever the facts.

The reality is that the idea of American Exceptionalism was created in Europe (its how people were convinced to come here!). Winthrop had the above idea in his head before he arrived and he was not alone. Europe was not democratic or free at that time and people needed something to believe.

The article offers some insights into the idea, but seems to take the tone that the US is not exceptional and that areas of weaknesses should be talked about as much as areas of strength.

Another really interested tidbit at the end is about a Professor who has started a blog/website dedicated to providing data to counter his students beliefs in American Exceptionalism. I will have to check it out. Again, from Scott Shane of the NY Times:

Of course, the reason talking directly about serious American problems is risky is that most voters don’t like it. Mark Rice, who teaches American studies at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., said students often arrived at his classes steeped in the notion that the United States excelled at everything. He started a blog, Ranking America, to challenge their assumptions with a wild assortment of country comparisons, some sober (the United States is No. 1 in small arms ownership) and others less so (the United States is tied for 24th with Nigeria in frequency of sex).

“Sure, we’re No. 1 in gross domestic product and military expenditures,” Mr. Rice says. “But on a lot of measures of quality of life, the U.S. ranking is far lower. I try to be as accurate as I can and I avoid editorializing. I try to complicate their thinking.”

All that said, not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that can be measured matters.

via Candidates and the Truth About America – NYTimes.com.

Food Truck Rivalry on Campuses | WSJ.com | Campus as Market

My earliest memories of campus food trucks date to UW Madison in the 90s (a great weekend road trip from Chicago) and consumption of late night snacks from a variety of tasty trucks. This blog has posted on food trucks as many student entrepreneurs start with food trucks as a low cost option.

Moreover, campus as market, a theme explored frequently in my research and on this blog, is congruent with the rise of the food truck industrial complex (see previous blog entry).

The Wall Street Journal has offered great coverage of the growth of food trucks and some of the backlash against this burgeoning food service segment (incumbents=restaurants don’t like them!).

Sanette Tanaka of WSJ.com has a great piece on the growth of food trucks on campuses across the US. Tanaka on the newest rivalry on campus:

College officials say running their own food trucks brings in more revenue for the universities. They also can tailor menus to fit the student body. The University of Texas at Dallas plans to debut its first food truck this fall, featuring a fusion menu of Asian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisines to reflect the school’s large number of international students, who make up 19% of the student body.

Aramark Corp. and Bon Appétit Management Co., two companies that manage food services for universities, say they have seen an increase in demand for college-run food trucks, especially as a way to offer late-night dining options and serve remote areas of campus. Aramark says it will add nine more university-run food trucks this fall, and Bon Appétit says it will add five.

In total, nearly 100 colleges have their own university-run food trucks, compared with only about a dozen five years ago, according to the National Association of College and University Food Services, which represents about 550 higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

Many universities don’t allow outside food trucks to come onto campus. But some, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, grant limited access to select independent vendors. MIT, in Cambridge, Mass., doesn’t take a cut of the vendors’ revenue or profit, but charges a flat rate for the trucks to park.

GMU Arlington has a middle eastern food truck in front of Founders Hall on a regular basis while the main campus in Fairfax seem to offer just an old school hotdog cart — no problem with that — but its a far cry from today’s innovative food trucks.

via Food Trucks: The Newest Rivalry on College Campuses – WSJ.com.

MSU Celebrates Student Entrepreneurship | Starkville Daily News

A few semesters ago, three students in my New Venture Creation class wanted to pursue the retail breathalyzer market. They chose to create a campus activity app instead. Today I learned from Steven Nalley at the Starkville Daily New that some Mississippi State students have pushed into the breathalyzer market and have done well with their idea (Night and Day Vending) on the business plan circuit.

Parker Stewart is a true competitor.

As CEO of Night and Day Vending, which distributes breathalyzer vending machines called IntoxBoxes, Stewart has entered several student entrepreneurship competitions in association with Mississippi State University. Jesus J. Valdez, a marketing research associate with MSU’s Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship, said Stewart not only placed first in the MSU Investing in Innovation’s Student Elevator Pitch Competition, but also third in the student division of the Mississippi Technology Alliance’s New Venture Challenge in Jackson.

Valdez said Stewart’s competitive spirit stretches across the business spectrum and beyond.

“Every competition (Stewart has) been in, he’s placed in, which speaks volumes,” Valdez said. “Last night, there was a competition in bowling with a lot of student entrepreneurs, and he came in second.”

via MSU celebrates success in student entrepreneurship | Starkville Daily News.