Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: the University of Chicago

Even though the University of Chicago does not have a school of engineering, it has become a leading startup university. Groupon, GrubHub, Braintree Financial and other high growth, student created firms have come of of the University of Chicago in recent years and the end is nowhere in site.

Check out my new paper: The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: the University of Chicago to learn more about Chicago and how the US campus has become the hottest entrepreneurial ecosystem around. Here is a snippet:

In March 2016, Forbes Magazine released its list of the world’s billionaires. Simply perusing the 100 richest people in the world suggests that student entrepreneurs from US colleges and universities have impacted the world as much as any cohort on the list. The outsized impact of students that began the firm formation process on campus is glaring. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is #1 in the world, with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at #6 while the Google founders come in at #12 and #13 (“The World’s Billionaires,” 2016). Just a short leap away is Phil Knight of Nike at #24 and Michael Dell at #35 with Paul Allen, who left Microsoft in the early 1980s after co-founding the firm with Gates, at #40 spot globally (“The World’s Bilionaires,” 2016). There are many others on the list that trace their wealth to student created firms at US universities. While there is a diversity of founders and fields of studies from a range of years and universities, their ventures were begun on a campus entrepreneurial ecosystem in the US.

 

The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

I am in the midst of writing a paper that explores the campus as an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Much of the preliminary work, thinking, and formation of this idea took place while I completed my PhD. Here is the work in all its glory: Campus as Frontier: High Growth Student Startups at US College and Universities.

And here is a snippet regarding looking beyond PhD and lab science for innovators on campus:

Policy makers should consider Jefferson’s radical idea of offering choice for undergraduates in 1819 or Van Hise’s plan to provide educational resources to fishermen in Minocqua, Wisconsin as well as researchers in Madison at the main campus of University of Wisconsin. In both historical examples, leaders attempted to bring the assets and opportunities of the universities to individuals, allowing them to make the university work for them and their problems.  

The challenge for policymakers is to craft policies and structures supporting small scale projects by non-research oriented innovators such as MBA candidates and undergraduate music majors, instead of targeting their attention and resources on faculty winning federal grants. There is no doubt that Vannevar Bush’s shadow is long and wide and emerging from it will take concerted efforts for university and policy leaders.

Yes, I am arguing that University leaders and policy makers are looking in the wrong places for innovation and entrepreneurship on campus — chasing lab led science and big ‘innovation’ building projects such as tech centers or innovation zones (always funded with ‘public’ money) instead of the bottom up innovation and entrepreneurship that my dissertation uncovers.

Any thoughts or feedback or criticism?

Cupid’s Cup 2016 | @UofMaryland @UnderArmour #KevinPlank

In completing my research on high growth ventures created by students the case of Kevin Plank (Under Armour) and the University of Maryland was part of my data collection and highlights many of the ideas uncovered. Cupid’s Cup, the annual business competition sponsored by Plank and Under Armour, completed its final round Thursday April 7 on the campus of the University of Maryland. (At the time of this post you could watch the event here)

As usual, the finals featured a passionate speech by Plank and an awesome, psyche up video by Under Armour. Plank’s message about Under Armour and his vision for Baltimore are big (backed by investment on the Baltimore waterfront — see the plans for Port Covington). I would not doubt this guy and his team. Btw, I must confess I bought Under Armour stock ($UA) a number of years ago and have been pleased with their performance.

The judges for the final round included Plank, Arianna Huffington, Dan Gilbert and Wes Moore — truly an accomplished group across a variety of fields/industries.

The 6 presenting finalists were – Javazen, Plova Chewing Gum, Wolf & Shepherd, MyBestBox, SixFoods and Headbands of Hope. The winner was Javazen – the hybrid green tea and coffee drink developed by students at the University of Maryland.

Headbands of Hope creates headbands for kids undergoing cancer treatment; mybestbox is a monthly subscription box promoting healthier lifestyles, Plova gum cleans your teeth between brushings, Six Foods makes bug chips that kids seem to like, and Wolf & Shepherd make dress shoes that perform like athletic shoes.

Nice diversity of ventures, all generating revenue and entering vibrant markets and making impact. Look for more from these teams. Coverage of the Kevin Plank’s Cupid Cup in the Balitmore Business Journal. For the official Cupid’s Cup website.

Campus as Frontier: High Growth Student Startups at US Colleges and Universities | #highered #entrepreneurship #startups #ecdev #TTO

Yes, I defended by dissertation in mid July, all the paperwork has been processed and the degree conferred. My dissertation, Campus as Frontier: High Growth Student Startups at US Colleges and Universities is now available via the Mason Archival Repository Service.

Here is a bit of the abstract:

This dissertation explores the complex social phenomena of students at US colleges and universities creating high growth firms and investigates the role, if any, played by the campus during the firm formation process. This dissertation employs mixed methods to better understand student entrepreneurs, their firms and the institutions where opportunity identification and firm formation processes began. Given the gap in the literature surrounding high growth firms created by students, no hypothesis is proposed or tested.

Feel free to email any thoughts, ideas, or questions.

Visit to Halcyon Incubator | #SOCENT #Incubator #DC

Earlier this week I was fortunate to tour Halcyon Incubator in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC. The year long social entrepreneurship incubator, offers 8 early stage social entrepreneurs the opportunity to live and work in the Halcyon Incubator_Infographic_930x1628WEB_072815House (a bit more on the property later).

For the first 5 months the entrepreneurs participate in the ‘residency’ phase with skills sessions, pitch opportunities, weekly lunches, mentors, consultants and others supporting their ventures development. For the next 7 months the entrepreneurs live and work in the Halcyon House — a gorgeous, amazingly decorated mansion in Georgetown (virtual tour) with everything from a ballroom to beautiful grounds with a pool.

The newest cohort of Halcyon Fellows are just moving in and beginning their year in the program. They are a diverse lot solving important problems and I look forward to meeting some of them and watching their progress over the next year.

The deadline to apply for the next cohort of fellows is October 14, 2015. If you are an early stage social entrepreneur please check this program out. If you know an emerging social entrepreneur, share the application with them.

The library on the top floor of the Halcyon House. Various sessions are held in this room for the fellows.
The library on the top floor of the Halcyon House. Various sessions are held in this room for the fellows. Awesome space for social entrepreneurs.

Tina Seelig of Stanford on Why It’s Imperative to Entrepreneurship

Paul Rogers tweeted a great piece by Tina Seelig at Medium: Why It’s Imperative to Teach Entrepreneurship. Its short and to the point and worth reading and sharing.

Our education system is responsible for preparing young people to build successful lives. They should be ready for the wide range of possibilities ahead of them, including working for others, starting their own ventures, and contributing to their communities. All of these options require a depth of knowledge in their chosen discipline, as well as creative problem solving skills, leadership abilities, experience working on effective teams, and adaptability in an ever-changing environment. It’s no coincidence that these are the same capabilities that employers say they want in college graduates.

These skills are the cornerstones of entrepreneurship education, which explicitly prepares students to identify and address challenges and opportunities. Therefore, along with teaching traditional subjects, such as science, grammar, and history, that provide foundational knowledge, it’s imperative that we teach students to be entrepreneurial.

UW-Madison Suspends 18 Year Old Business Plan Competition #entreed

In surprising news, the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition  at UW Madison has been called off for 2016.  From Judy Newman at the Wisconsin State Journal:

A highlight of the UW-Madison’s School of Business for the past 18 years, a notice on the contest’s website says “due to budgetary constraints,” the Burrill competition is being “suspended.”

“The impact of the Burrill Business Plan Competition on the local community is hard to understate,” said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of the gener8tor startup accelerator and a finalist judge for the Burrill the past two years.

“I was really surprised to hear they decided to cancel it,” said Chris Meyer, co-founder of the Sector67 maker space. “It was crucially important in terms of getting my business started.”

The Burrill contest has produced some noteworthy winners.

They include Virent Energy Systems, a Madison biofuel company collaborating on alternative fuels with Royal Dutch Shell and on recyclable, plant-based plastic bottles with The Coca-Cola Co., and EatStreet, formerly BadgerBites, a Madison company offering mobile restaurant food delivery.

“We are disappointed to learn there will not be more opportunities for companies like these to receive the resources and advantages made available to them through the Burrill (competition),” Kirgues said.

Little positive about this announcement: just not sure if this is about Wisconsin politics or the actual value of the competition? We will stayed tuned to see what happens next.