Category Archives: Students

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.

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.

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.

Winning over the crowd | The Economist | Crowdfunding

Efficient piece from the Economist with visuals of Kickstarter’s crowdfunding projects during 2012. Good insight into crowdfunding. BTW, Virginia has a petition calling for tax credits for crowdfunding investors.  From the Economist:

LAST year more than 18,000 projects were successfully funded on Kickstarter, the largest crowdfunding website. A total of $320m was pledged by 2.2m people, making possible creative projects including a documentary on fracking, a home aquaponics kit and a community centre for circus arts. Games, a category which includes video, board and card games, received the most support, with $83m pledged to more than 900 projects. Given their high development costs and passionate fans, video games are a good match for crowdfunding, particularly as established publishers churn out ever more sequels, leaving a long tail of unmet demand (see article). In all, 44% of the projects launched last year managed to raise the money they requested, but the success rate ranged from a threadbare 26% in fashion to a sprightly 74% in dance. Seventeen projects raised more than $1m apiece in 2012. Technology projects received the highest average pledge by category, at $107 per backer. The biggest Kickstarter project to date is Pebble, a watch that connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth, which received almost $150 per backer to raise $10.3m in May.

 

via Daily chart: Winning over the crowd | The Economist.

Every Young Person is Screwed | How to Survive | #students

Interesting piece by Bryan Goldberg, founder of Bleacher Report on how young people are screwed and how to fight it. Some interesting thoughts in this piece at Pando Daily.

Every young person is an entrepreneur now, in one way or another — they must forge their own unique career path, and they need to think five or 10 years ahead. There is no rulebook anymore for how to build a career. Certainly not the one your parents read in 1981.

In summary, the “conventional path” has become so narrow, that it hardly even exists. You can’t just go to grad school and “become” anything: a lawyer, a banker, a doctor, a journalist, a manager. Some of these jobs are on hiring freezes, and some of them are so fraught with frustration that they are best avoided. I don’t know a single doctor who thinks that Medicine is the best career path for their kids. And the same logic is applying to more and more professions. The well has been poisoned.

via Young people are screwed… Here’s how to survive.

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.

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.

Student Innovators | Stronger Bike Helmet, Made of Cardboard, Inspired by a Woodpecker

This article shows how unbelievably innovative students can be, Kranium Design (lighter, stronger, safer) via  GOOD IS (make sure you watch video):

When Anirudha Surabhi was a grad student at the Royal College of Art in London, he was in a bike accident. Even though it was a minor crash, and Surabhi was wearing an expensive helmet, the next day he learned that he had a concussion. He spent three days in the hospital. He wondered why the helmet hadn’t worked—and decided to explore the problem for his thesis project.

It turns out that bike helmets are not as safe as they’re portrayed to be. Over the last few decades, Surabhi says, some helmets have gotten more aerodynamic and better-looking, but they haven’t gotten any better at protecting us from injuries.

As he began working on his design, Surabhi looked at the anatomy of a woodpecker for inspiration. When a woodpecker slams its beak into the trunk of a tree, the impact is cushioned by a special micro-structure between the beak and head. By mirroring that structure—after testing 150 different materials—Surabhi was able to create a helmet that can withstand three times greater impact than a standard helmet.

BTW, Heba of Eatluv recently pointed out this amazing cardboard bike and its designer. I guess the helmet and bike would make a truly cool pair. Is it time to hold a cardboard hackathon or innovation contest? Anyone up for that kind of contest? Also, both seem like kickstarter type of projects — anyone know if they are up on crowdfunding pages?

via A Stronger Bike Helmet, Made of Cardboard and Inspired by a Woodpecker | Health on GOOD.

Kauffman Foundation Grant to StartX (Stanford Student Accelerator)

There is so much going on at Stanford University that its almost impossible to keep track of all of the initiatives. StartX, an accelerator for university students, received a big commitment for additional funding from Kauffman. From the Kauffman Foundation press release:

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today announced an $800,000 grant to StartX, which runs a startup accelerator for university students, to support expansion and national scaling of the program.

StartX, formerly SSE Labs, was initially launched in 2010 by Stanford students to accelerate the development of the best Stanford student entrepreneurs through experiential education. Kauffman’s grant will help StartX scale its current services and build a model for replication.

“StartX has taken important initial steps to develop an experiential education-based program for founders at the university level,” said Wendy Torrance, Kauffman director of entrepreneurship who leads the Foundation’s curriculum development. “Our grant will help StartX further develop its curriculum and program and identify a model for replication, while bolstering its capacity to gather and analyze data on its work and crucial outcomes.”

StartX, a non-profit organization affiliated with Stanford University that takes no equity from its portfolio companies, has received applications from more than 6 percent of the Stanford student population each year. To date, StartX has supported more than 240 founders and 90 companies in several markets, including clean tech, biotechnology, enterprise, consumer internet/mobile, hardware, healthcare technology and social enterprise. In total, StartX companies have raised more than $70 million in funding.

Will be interested to see how it scales and would like to know how StartX differs from other channels students use to launch firms.

via Kauffman Foundation Announces Grant to StartX.

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.