U of MD Birthed Legal River Launches New Products, Covered by NY Times

Great news continuing to come out of Legal River, a firm launched by MBA students at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business. This past week in partnership with General Counsel, P.C., Legal River released two new products for entrepreneurs: a Terms of Service Generator and a Privacy Policy Generator. From the entry by NY Times and Venture Beat contributor Nadia Majid:

Legal River’s tools are meant to keep costs low for entrepreneurs as they set up a business; typical terms of service documents can otherwise cost thousands of dollars. An entrepreneur only needs to fill in some basic information, such as the name of the company, information the company receives from a customer (for the privacy policy), and business structure (for the terms of service). The appropriate document is returned to the user online almost immediately, along with a version in HTML code, and the relevant policy is also emailed to the email address provided. Both tools are hosted on Legal River’s site and were developed by General Counsel, P.C.


Wall Street Journal on Grads Making Their Own Jobs

Entrepreneurship by necessity has always accounted for much startup activity. Toddi Gutner has a piece in the Dec 23rd Wall Street Journal highlighting recent grads launching firms and also some of the structures and assets that the campus presents to entrepreneurs. Kauffman, Babson, Y Combinator, business plan classes, etc. The article is worth reading, here is a snippet:

Andrew Levine knew he wouldn’t find a job in investment banking when he graduated with an M.B.A. from the University of Miami in 2008. Wall Street was in the midst of a financial collapse. So instead the 24-year-old focused his efforts on launching a start-up. “I figured that starting my own company was the best use of my time while I waited for the market to thaw,” says Mr. Levine.

Faced with an unemployment rate of 16% for 20- to 24-year-olds, a growing number of recent college and grad-school graduates are launching their own companies, according to anecdotal evidence from colleges, universities and entrepreneurship programs around the U.S.

For his part, Mr. Levine built upon a business plan for a niche social-networking company he had created for an entrepreneurship class the prior year.

Entrepreneurship During Hard Times

Our friend Prof Orozco up in the UP has a video and a nice blog post of a recent visit to Michigan Tech by entrepreneur Dr. Kanwal Rehki. The subject is entrepreneurship in tough times. The video appears longs, but I’ve watched the first 15 minutes and am letting it go on another browser. Rehki is a smart guy. Good schools and entrepreneurship programs provide their students and faculty access to entrerpreneurial visitors such as Rehki.

New MIT Case Study Highlights Power of Campus Entrepreneurs

A case study of the entrepreneurial economy spawned by MIT was released last week. The report, Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT by Edward B. Roberts and Charles Eesley (both of MIT) looks pretty interesting and some of the numbers and statements in the press release are pretty amazing. Here is a snippet from the Kauffman Foundation’s website — you can download the report there. (I will post more on the report after I have read it)

According to the study Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT analyzes the economic effect of MIT alumni-founded companies and its entrepreneurial ecosystem, if the active companies founded by MIT graduates formed an independent nation, their revenues would make that nation at least the seventeenth-largest economy in the world. Within the U.S., these companies currently generate hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs to regional economies, particularly those in Massachusetts and California. Globally, a less conservative estimate of their annual world sales would equal $2 trillion, producing the equivalent of the eleventh-largest economy in the world.

Frontiers of Midwest/West Created Modern Am Univ.

As we continue researching and trying to understand the rise of entrepreneurs in and around campuses, we came across this in Rudolph’s The American College and University: A History (1990);

In the post-Civil War period, however, it became apparent that the American state university would be defined neither in the South, the first home of the state university movement, nor in the Northeast, where the old colonial institution precluded it growth. The American state university would be defined in the great Midwest and West, where frontier democracy and frontier materialism would help to support a practical-oriented popular institution.

(Rudolph, p. 277)

The point here is that until the Midwestern/Western state university institutionalized practical subjects and activities, the American college and university was pushing classic subjects that an American populace with a frontier mindset (practicality, innovation, etc.) had little interest in.

Harvard, Yale, and the like followed the path that leaders at schools such as University of Michigan and Wisconsin blazed with their frontier populations, turning the schools into institutions reflecting the needs and population of America. (I am sure Zuckerberg and Gates are thankful for that.)

WSJ Looks at Dorm Based Entrepreneurs

Raymund Flandez over at the Independent Street Blog looks at the results of StarupNation.com’s 20 Best Dorm Based Businesses contest. More important than the finalists are the tips that Flandez offers for those thinking of launching their own firms from campus. Here are a few:

“3. Say ‘no’ to corporate work. Headlines of layoffs from big companies have turned off these youngsters to being a corporate employee. They’d rather make money their own way.

4. Be socially conscious. Contestants’ social responsibility is on the top of their business plans. Their mantra: You can’t succeed unless you help other people. Idealistic, maybe, but they’re building Web sites that help developing countries, creating a green electronics-recycling company and hosting ocean-conservation events at the Cape Cod National Seashore during the summer.”

Diversity on Campus: Theory v Reality

One of the reasons that we are investigating the campus as an entrepreneurial environment is that in its most ideal form there is huge diversity on campus (i.e., age, race, field of study, nationality, political viewpoints, personal preferences, socio-economic background, etc). This diversity is believed to bring many advantages.

The social and economic benefits of diversity are discussed at length in Richard Florida’s writings and others – I am partial to Jane Jacobs’ ideas in The Economy of Cities.

WSJ writer Hannah Karp’s story, From Bloomingdales to Bloomington, tells of a new diversity at Indiana University’s main Bloomington campus where a large influx of students from the Northeast is changing life on campus. From the story:

In Indiana University’s Assembly Hall last Friday, a remarkably large chorus hailing from private high schools in the Northeast was singing the school’s ode to the “Cream and Crimson” in a pronounced New York accent.

It’s a striking byproduct of one of the most competitive college admissions sessions ever — an influx of East Coast prep-school students in Indiana. Indiana University welcomed about 260 students from the greater New York City area to the limestone lecture halls on its lush, leafy campus last week, up 12.5% from last year. Another 175 came from New Jersey, up 25% from 2007, and 50 hail from Connecticut. While the numbers of students matriculating from in-state and other parts of the country are steadily increasing as well — the school had some 500 more students accept admission offers than it had planned for — the last three years have been marked by unprecedented growth from the Northeast.

The droves of East Coast students descending on Bloomington are ruffling some feathers among the 61% of students who call Indiana home.

Upperclassmen say the tension begins to build from day one of freshman year, as most East Coasters request to live in the same cluster of dorms and send in housing deposits to guarantee their spots long before committing to the school. Jess Berne, a freshman from New York’s suburban Westchester County who had also applied to Penn State and the University of Wisconsin, sent in her housing deposit to Indiana as soon as she was admitted in October, at the school’s recommendation, eight months before she decided to actually enroll. She also requested to room with a fellow New Yorker, Becky Davies, whom she met on Facebook.

The story is interesting/funny (a father of a NY student thinks something is not quite right in Bloomington because people are so friendly) and anecdotal, but leads one to wonder whether diversity works ‘positively’ with open, accepting minds leading the way new understanding and ideas? Or does diversity work because of ‘friction’ and new outputs that are the result of worlds colliding?

Are these ‘new immigrants’ to Bloomington having the same effect on campus as Eastern Europeans or Latin Americans have on US cities when they arrive in large numbers? Any thoughts?