Category Archives: Campus Eco-System

Iman Jalali: If My School Had an Entrepreneurship Major, I Wouldn’t Have Dropped Out #highered

From Iman Jalali at The Accelerators Blog at WSJ.com:

I dropped out of college because my marketing and business major wasn’t allowing me to create and build. I was listening to lectures that weren’t relevant to me or for what I already knew I wanted to do: Start a business.

I wish they had taught me about idea validation, customer acquisition and bootstrapping. That’s what would make for a great entrepreneurship program, and what would have kept me engaged and happy with the skills I was learning.

Ideally, an entrepreneurship major would not be treated like just another business major. It’s not about book learning; It’s not about lectures. It’s about finding your passion, gathering resources, testing your idea and being able to scale.

Having students create startups during their major while being mentored by founders themselves would be an invaluable experience. Legitimate businesses, with business licenses, credit-card merchant accounts — the whole nine yards. Basically a “Startup Weekend” that lasts the entire time you’re in school. Not to mention the perks of having a job after graduation and possibly creating jobs for peers if your startup is successful.

Offering an entrepreneurship program would not only help students prepare for the challenges that await them, but would also give them the hands-on experience so many current entrepreneurs wished they had at a college-level. I say, don’t deny the business-savvy minds of today’s world and fuel them with the resources they need to succeed.

via Iman Jalali: If My School Had an Entrepreneurship Major, I Wouldn’t Have Dropped Out – The Accelerators – WSJ.

Business Model, Customer Development Celebration | USASBE LAUNCH! |

Received an email the other day about a celebration / competition focusing on business models and customer development. Lots of mentoring and tools will be available for undergraduate participants. Check out the USASBE Launch competition website.

USASBE Launch! is an exciting global student startup competition designed to provoke and reward undergraduate students from any discipline who can

1) design an impactful idea,

2) identify, test and validate business model hypotheses using customer development tools and

3) show traction which measures how well a startup is delivering its business model and how well the target demographic is accepting that business model.

There is no required application process, but students can sign up to receive updates. There are no required fees or purchases, there is no required format or procedures. We will recommend a process and tools, and students can engage as much or as little as they desire. The ultimate goal of student participants should be to start a sustainable business and tell an engaging story . . . plain and simple.

via USASBE LAUNCH! | A New Generation of Possibility.

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.

#Hackmason | edx/XBlock · GitHub | MOOC

Startup Mason and The Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship are hosting HackMason 1.0 on April 5th and 6th. We will be offering broad #highered challenges for our attendees (sign up here). One of the challenges will involve developing for edX and its Xblock. Here are some basics at GitHub on XBlock Courseware Components from edX.org (created by Harvard and MIT):

XBlock is a component architecture by edX.org for building courseware.

This is a pre-alpha release of the XBlock API, to gather input from potential users of the API. We like what is here, but are open to suggestions for changes. We will be implementing this shortly in the edX LMS.

This repo contains the core code for implementing XBlocks as well as a simple workbench application for running XBlocks in a small simple environment.

BackgroundEdX courseware is built out of components that are combined hierarchically. These include components like the video player, LON-CAPA problems, as well as compound components like learning sequences. We are developing a second-generation API for these components called XBlocks. Although they’re in a prototype stage, we like the API, and want to collaborate with others to develop them into an industry standard. This is our proposed API and specification for XBlocks.

How does this differ from existing industry standards like LTI and SCORM? On a high level, XBlocks is a Python language-level API, and it provides sensible defaults for things like storing data. XBlocks could be wrapped up in LTI, and one could make an LTI XBlock. The core reason to write an XBlock is that it is deployable. You can give us the code to an XBlock, and we can embed it in our courseware. LTI would require you to give us a virtual machine image which ran it.

We are really excited to work with this new courseware to see what can be developed at our Hack Mason 1.0 event. Please, if you are in the DC Metro, let us know how you would like to be engaged in this event. #edtech #highered #hackedu #mooc

via edx/XBlock · GitHub.

Report Says UK Struggles with Research Commercialisation | Times Higher Education | #highered

The Times Higher Education site has an interesting piece highlighting the difficulties British universities are having commercializing all of the research funding they receive from their government. A new report on the subject has supported this criticism. From Elizabeth Gibney:

“British entrepreneurs are being badly let down by a lack of access to financial support and a system that often forces them to sell out to private equity investors or larger foreign companies to get ideas off the ground,” said committee chair and Labour MP, Andrew Miller.

MPs said they had been encouraged by the work of the Technology Strategy Board and its network of “catapult” centres, but said that they were concerned about the access of small firms to facilities, and that government grant funding was often highly bureaucratic to apply for and only enough to “get an idea off the ground”.

The report, Bridging the Valley of Death: Improving the Commercialisation of Research, adds that while academic research is the “jewel in the crown of UK innovation activity”, the committee had concerns about how universities interact with the commercialisation of research.

It questions whether changes to the Higher Education Innovation Fund, which reward institutions that have already benefited from successfully commercialising their intellectual property, might further decrease the success of already struggling institutions.

“We would like to see how well changes to the Higher Education Innovation Fund improve commercialisation activity; whether there is a need for greater amounts of proof of concept funding in the sector; and challenge the institutions to become more accommodating to non-traditional backgrounds among their academic staff,” it reads.

“We have concerns that driving an innovation agenda too aggressively through universities may have diminishing returns with regard to commercialisation and risk damaging the academic research that is working well,” it adds.

via MPs criticise government over research commercialisation | News | Times 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.

Shark Tank Campus Entrepreneurs, Ball Players Create Coffee Pouches

Just catching up on last nights Shark Tank and glad to see another campus entrepreneur doing well. College baseball players Pat and Matt hit hard with their coffee based chewing tobacco replacement. From the blog Shark Tank Success.

The two invented the Get Grinds Coffee Pouches while in college and playing baseball out in San Francisco, California as an alternative to regular chewing tobacco. By making their pouches using flavored coffee grounds and then adding the same ingredients found in energy drinks like Red Bull or the 5 Hour energy, they have essentially married two unrelated product’s in a rather unique form. The Get Grinds Coffee pouches is a perfect alternative to chewing tobacco and gives you an added boost at the same time.

Another unique advantage to the get Grinds Coffee Pouches especially if you already chew tobacco, is you do not need to continually spit. In Fact, it is encouraged not to spit because you gain more of the energy boosting ingredients by swallowing your saliva. No Kidding! You are essentially brewing the flavored coffee in your mouth. The only thing you need to spit out is the pouch when your done.

Love the flavors that these guys are offering. Also wondering if this could become a product that coffee consumers go for whether they trying to stop chewing tobacco or have never tried it. Here is a story on the ball players from Entrepreneur.

In 2008, after wrapping up their amateur season to return to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, to finish their degrees, the two men took the saying a step further.

One too-hot night while working on an economics project, they decided to skip out on brewing a pot of coffee in favor of doing what comes naturally to baseball players: They stuffed wads of grinds in their mouths.

“The buzz kicked in and we said, ‘Shoot, we might be on to something,'” Canepa says.

That something was Grinds, tiny chewable pouches of flavored coffee grinds. Each pouch contains about as much caffeine as a quarter cup of coffee, as well as a smattering of taurine and B vitamins.

Soon after their discovery, the duo dashed off a business plan that snagged $3,000 in a competition at their school’s business department. Later that year, they won $15,000 in a similar schoolwide contest, and a handful of judges signed on as investors. In June 2009, less than a year after the idea was born, Canepa and Pezet officially launched their company, also named Grinds.

 

via Shark Tank Success Stories : Get Grinds Coffee Pouch.

The Future of the Classroom | Fortune Tech | Hack Edu

Can you text your Professor or TA at any hour? Will they respond? What is the future or the classroom and the relationship between instructors and students? From Scott Olster, editor of Fortune Tech:

The market for mobile education—which encompasses everything from e-books to courses delivered to tablets and learning management software—is currently worth $3.4 billion, according to a 2012 study by GSMA, an association of mobile operators, and consultants McKinsey & Co. The market, which includes device sales like Apple (AAPL) iPads and Google (GOOG) Android-based tablets, is expected to be worth $70 billion by 2020.

But despite all the hoopla over gadgets and new software, the future of education really hinges on the shifting roles of teacher and student. “The main shift is away from what I’ll call a teacher-in-classroom-centric model,” explains Scott Benson, a program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Instead, Benson says students will learn at their own pace, using software that adapts to their strengths and weaknesses. In other words: aided by emerging technology, the teacher-student relationship—and the classroom itself—will be remade. That is the coming education revolution.

Later in the piece:

With billions of dollars in potential business from schools and universities, education companies have plenty of incentive to get in now. But it goes beyond just digital textbooks and apps. For many of these companies, the educational business battle to come will center on student data.

Ideally, every move a student makes in a digital course will be tracked and analyzed to not only change a program to meet a student’s current needs, but to track a student’s progress—and determine their educational needs—not just during a given course, but throughout their lives.

“Collecting data, having a student profile that goes from kindergarten through professional [life] is where we want to invest,” says Jay Chakrapani, general manager in charge of digital products at McGraw Hill Higher Education. So, as the concept of “finishing school” at college graduation goes by the wayside, many consider the kind of data collection project Chakrapani is talking about the holy grail for the education business.

“The old model of getting educated in four years and coasting for the next 40 years” is growing increasingly less relevant, says Andrew Ng, co-CEO and co-founder of online education startup Coursera, which offers free online courses from universities like Stanford, Princeton, and Duke. “In the 40 years we continue to work, tech will allow us to continue to learn in a way that wasn’t available.”

via The future of the classroom – Fortune Tech.