Category Archives: Campus as Market

@GeorgeMasonU Alumni @GloboxRentals Launch International Film Kiosk Startup

{DISCLOSURE: I have worked closely with this startup and am mentioned in the article below and am pictured} Great piece on Mason born and Mason Alumni run startup Globox Rentals, a kiosk DVD rental service making top international films available to various consumer markets. The team recently placed its first 10 kiosks, including one in the Johnson Center — the student union @GeorgeMasonU. From Rashad Mulla of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences:

This “Globox” movie rental kiosk, which stands over 8 feet tall, is the pride and joy of Asad R. Ali and Sammy Kassim, the entrepreneurs at the heart of the brand new international film rental company, “Globox Rentals.”

Globox makes movies available for rent through vending kiosks, much like the multi-billion dollar rental service Redbox, but with one big difference: Globox specializes in new and popular international cinema, from more than 100 countries worldwide. This summer, Globox launched its first 10 kiosks, located in the Johnson Center, at various international grocers in Virginia Fairfax, Falls Church, Mt. Vernon, Woodbridge, and Arlington and a 7-Eleven convenience store in Bowie, Md.

“There are a lot of good international titles, content, and movies out there,” Kassim explained. “There just wasn’t an easy avenue for most of the customers and consumers to get that content.”

Today, the Globox team consists of co-founders Ali who studied in both the School of Management and the Department of Economics and Kassim BS ’11, Management, and fellow Mason alumni Ricky Singh BS ’11, Information Systems and Operations Management and Brittany Hill BA ’12, Art and Visual Technology. The Alexandria, Va.-based company appears to be riding a wave of momentum heading into the fall. But to get the ball rolling, Ali and Kassim had to put in a lot of work, and make a couple of unconventional decisions that required passion, drive and, simply put, bravery.

via College of Humanities and Social Sciences | News: World Cinema at Your Fingertips: Young Alumni Start “Globox Rentals” Business.

Google and Their Programs in the Education Space | #highered $GOOG #edtech

Emily Lucas of LifeHack.org has a nice post highlighting some of Google’s many initiatives in the education space.  From STEM and Social Entrepreneurship to Faculty Research and Marketing Competitions — Google is in the space. (Yes Brin and Page are two of the top 10 student entrepreneurs of all time). The entire post lists a bunch of their programs, below is a snippet and one of their interesting offerings. From LifeHack:

As one of the world’s premier companies, Google has truly affected the way everyone accesses information and how people learn online. To further encourage and nurture the leaders of tomorrow, Google has created many different educational programs for all ages. Educational programs at Google are not just informative. They also provide funding for underprivileged and minority students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to study computer science. This gives so many young students the ambition and dream to pursue a potential career in the burgeoning field of computer science.

Zeitgeist Young Minds Awards

This annual Google competition is aimed at entrepreneurial and ambitious 18-24-year old entrants from all over the world. To enter, the participants make a YouTube video explaining how their project or innovation will impact the world. After the participants are narrowed to 12, they attend Google’s Zeitgeist Conferences in Europe and North and South America. World leaders come to these conferences to raise awareness and discuss how to address the world’s problems.

via Google and Their Educational Programs.

Has Online Education Won Wonders Daniel Pianko @UniVenturesFund

Just received the latest University Ventures letter with a piece, “You Won”, by Daniel Pianko. He explains that his tenured professor brother has acknowledged the future is online and that #highered is going to get whipped by educational equivalents of Amazon and Uber:

As colleges and universities face off against new technology, how does this game compare with the one retailers and taxi drivers have been playing?

It’s true that three million American students – nearly 1 in 6 enrolled at colleges and universities – are earning degrees entirely online, without setting foot on campus. But they are doing so at accredited universities (nearly all regionally accredited). Students haven’t fled the system for an Uber- or Amazon-alternative. Overall enrollment is up 18% over the past 5 years. And new private sector universities (i.e., publicly traded companies like Apollo Group, parent of University of Phoenix), which had seemed on a path to market domination, have experienced enrollment declines.

At the same time, my brother sees clouds on the horizon. As Ben Nelson, the founder of the Minerva Project, explained to me, about 100,000 students at the University of California and California State University systems take Psychology 101 each year. Psychology 101 is a first year lecture class with, on average, over 200 students in each class. That’s 100,000 students, at an average of $1,500 of revenue per student per class. So Psych 101 generates $150M in revenue at a cost of delivery that can’t possibly exceed $50M. As a result, the California systems generate $100,000,000 of gross margin (i.e., profit) on Psych 101 – a contribution that is used to support other activities in the systems. What happens, my brother rightly and fairly asks, when new entrants like StraighterLine and UniversityNow push the price UC and CSU can charge for Psych 101 to the actual cost of delivery? What will UC and CSU have to cut?

That last question… what goes away? Is that the only question? How about… what can get added that people will pay for? Or are their new customers for the traditional goods (face to face interactions, dorms, extra curricular activities?). There is lots of opportunity out there!

A Self-Publication Gold Rush? | Disrupting Higher Education | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Amazon is playing a role in disrupting academic publishing. From Marc Bousquet at the Chronicle of Higher Education (h/t Paul Rogers)

En route to a professorship of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas at Austin, Clay Spinuzzi published scholarly monographs with the MIT Press 2003 and Cambridge University Press 2008. Last January, right on schedule, he brought out a third book, Topsight: A Guide to Studying, Diagnosing, and Fixing Information Flow in Organizations. His publisher this time? Himself.

Using the Amazon CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and a couple of thousand dollars in freelance graphic design and copy-editing, Spinuzzi will make back his financial investment after 300 copies are sold. That’s because he’ll earn exceptionally high royalties: Around $7 for every digital copy, a little more for each print-on-demand paperback. If he sells just 1,500 copies, he’ll earn $10,000. If he gets to the academic equivalent of best-sellerdom—15,000 copies—he’ll easily clear more than $100,000.

Those numbers flow from Amazon’s revolutionary royalty structure. For self-published e-books priced under $2.99 or more than $9.99, Amazon pays a 35-percent royalty. But for those priced between those benchmarks, authors can clear 70 percent for themselves. The sweet spot is designed to keep prices within the range that traditional publishers expect for mass-market and many trade paperbacks­­—and to keep Amazon from underpricing its own traditional wares.

Later in the piece,

Of course, even in the narrower world of textbooks and other works for lay or crossover readerships, the possibility of a cash payout isn’t the only advantage to self-publishing. Spinuzzi cites swift turnaround, freedom to experiment, and greater creative control of layout, images, and content: “I got away with a lot of things that traditional publishers wouldn’t allow,” he says. “Something as small as referencing Scooby-Doo can really set the tone for a book, making it friendly and accessible, and I didn’t want to give that up.”

In the end, those advantages may have more and more influence upon young scholars, for whom the digital-humanities movement has begun to at least modestly undermine the centrality of the monograph in scholarly communication.

Today’s digital humanists increasingly share not only the apex of our analysis but all the constituent elements of our research—unedited oral history in various languages, for instance; edited, arranged, and translated clips; slides; searchable raw data; sorted data; collected primary texts; annotations of primary texts; and so on. This digital, multimodal, social, dynamic scholarship is truly unsuitable for (merely) print, as Jerome J. McGann and others at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities proved long ago with projects like the Rossetti Archive and the Sixties Project.

I am excited to be experimenting with some of the tools/technologies as I finish up my dissertation over the next few months.

via A Self-Publication Gold Rush? – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Rise of the Hacker Space | Update on 3D Printing Venture Camp @GeorgeMasonU

This evening, I was able to work with Arlington Economic Development and Amplifier Ventures in putting on a 3D Printing Venture Camp event at GMU’s Arlington Campus. Dan Wilson of TechShop and Brian Jacoby of Nova-Labs, both hacker spaces, exhibited and sat on our panel.

Turns out that the NY Times published a piece on maker spaces today. Wonder if I can talk someone at Mason into funding maker spaces on our campus? Can we evolve MCSE coworking space and our Startup Mason curriculum into a maker space. We already have innovators from business, liberal arts, comp sci, electrical engineering, physics and design hanging out in our space.

Venture Camp tonight with multiple displays of printers, scanners, and exhibitors talking of materials sciences, rapid prototyping and the evolution of design and manufacturing. Its time for Mason to get into this emerging space.

From Steven Kurutz of the NY Times in The Rise of the Hacker Space:

Hacker spaces like MakerBar — where people gather to build or take things apart, from rockets to circuit boards to LED displays — are hives of innovation, real-world communities made possible by the emergence of virtual communities.

Businesses like Pinterest and MakerBot have grown out of hacker spaces, which have become networking venues for engineers and inventors. But at their most basic level, the 200 or so hacker spaces across the country function as a modern stand-in for the home workshop, especially in urban areas.

It’s no accident that some of the earliest and most popular hacker spaces, like Noisebridge in San Francisco and NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, are in cities where living spaces tend to be small, real estate is expensive and having a home workshop is a pipe dream for all but the very lucky or very wealthy.

“The 1950s version of tinkering was doing it in your garage,” said Dale Dougherty, who as the founder of Make magazine and its popular get-togethers known as Maker Faires is a patron saint to the hacker community. “A lot of people in urban settings don’t have that.”

“Sometimes these hacker spaces are not much bigger than a garage,” he said. “But people can’t organize their home into a workshop.”

via The Rise of the Hacker Space – NYTimes.com.

MBA Students: Why Take an Internship When I Can Start Up?

When I took an internship with a pre-IPO startup in between my 1st and 2nd years of bschool at U of C I was nearly alone on the entrepreneurship career path. Today the route is more established and the infrastructure is filling out. From Inc.

An increasing number of MBA students are foregoing traditional summer internships in favor of a start-up experience, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Thirteen percent of this year’s Harvard Business School graduates founded or worked at a start-up last summer—a 4 percent increase since 2011—while 9 percent of both the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford Graduate School of Business’s graduating classes did the same.

“[Students] want a different skill set. They’re looking for a skill set that’s appropriate for start-ups and small fast growing companies, which is quite different from the skill set they’d need for a large company,” Prof. Erik Gordon, who teaches entrepreneurship at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and University of Michigan Law School, told Inc.

BTW, the BusinessWeek article by Erin Zlomek has some great information and anecdotes.

Business accelerators have become another popular destination for first-year MBA students looking to start a business over the summer. These programs, which support startups through a combination of grants and mentoring, legal, accounting, and other services, are highly competitive and frequently reject applicants who aren’t committed to dropping out of school if their companies flourish. “I made a spreadsheet of 55 or 60 accelerator programs of all different flavors. Some paid, some didn’t, some took equity,” says former Harvard student Danielle Weinblatt, 29.

Again, its great to see how much the infrastructure for entrepreneurial students is growing. As to be expected, much of this is coming bottom up or from off of campus.

via MBA Students: Why Take an Internship When I Can Start a Company? | Inc.com.

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.

Don’t Call Them Students. They’re Entrepreneurs. Bloomberg

My friend, superstar student entrepreneur Caroline Pugh, co-founder of VirtualU, sent me this great piece by Mark Bauerlein in Bloomberg Businessweek. Here is a snippet:

“Entrepreneurship programs have exploded on U.S. campuses, and administrators love to talk about them. They aren’t just for business students. Kansas State University’s Center for Advancement of Entrepreneurship declares, “The mission of our award-winning center is to promote entrepreneurship among all academic disciplines,” while at Arizona State University, “The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative provides funding, mentorship and office space to teams of students within all university disciplines.””

I love the image they created for this one.

Don’t Call Them Students. They’re Entrepreneurs. – Bloomberg.

Ed-Tech Start-Ups Grilled by VCs in Business Competition | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jeffery Young on education technology startups and a recent business plan contest. Glad to see my friends at U of Delaware and their students are working on some cool businesses.

Leaders of 10 education-technology start-ups had eight minutes each to pitch their business plans in front of an audience, get grilled by a panel of venture capitalists, and then face a popular vote online. The big prize: marketing help from Educause and Google.

The start-ups’ chief executives, most of them in their 20s and 30s, talked fast, and when asked by the expert panel what their biggest obstacles were or how they could succeed when others had failed, most answered in slick sound bites that had clearly been rehearsed.

Their mission was to clearly state a problem in higher education they were trying to solve, and then show how their tool would do it.That might sound simple, but one member of the expert panel, John Cammack, of Cammack Associates, said that it’s hard to find a budding entrepreneur who can also make a successful pitch. “It’s one in 50,” he said. He’s also looking for intangibles: “My job is to find companies that have the intellectual skills, the management depth, and really the resolve to take the idea to full realization.”

via Ed-Tech Start-Ups Are Grilled by Venture Capitalists in Business Competition – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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.

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