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.

Local CEO Questions UC San Diego’s Approach to Entrepreneurship Education #highered #bizschool

Today’s WSJ features a blistering critique of the recently shuttered Moxie Center for Student Entrepreneurship at UC San Diego’s School of Engineering. The tagline for the center was dream, design, develop and Ken Kuang’s WSJ piece, Teaching Entrepreneurs to Dream, mocks the center, its results, and higher education’s approach to entrepreneurship.

While Kuang presents his personal experiences and opinions on entrepreneurship education at “prestigious universities,” his anger appears misdirected as he seems to be more upset that UCSD spent all of the money in 2.5 years (money donated by private philanthropists not out of tuition or state funds). Kuang does not explain what the arrangement/agreement was between the school and its supporter and therefore is in murky water when trying to determine success or failure of the last experience.

Moreover, from my 3 minute visit to the Moxie Center page, its clear the center was part of the engineering school. Nowhere in Kuang’s piece does he mention this.

He does however use anecdotal examples of MBA students to suggest that business schools are failing when it comes to entrepreneurship education. You can see how this plays out in the comments section on the bottom of the article (eg — “A civilization in decline? You be the judge. A ‘business school’ that doesn’t teach about profits and losses is a dead loss.”). He offers his own solutions (a Chinese model of new venture creation) in the article.

I am not familiar with the Moxie Center, its funding, goals, activities, etc, nor do I know much about UCSD, so I will refrain from commenting on the particular case that Kuang presents, but I do know that many colleges and universities have seen incredible success with student entrepreneurs, many of which emerged through classes, entrepreneurship programs and events, and interactions with faculty, alumni and regional economies. We do have actual data on this.

Moreover, centers, programs, degrees, sports teams, hotels, and many other institutions come and go in modern research universities — at least responsive ones. The closing of a center is in many ways business as usual. Its possible that the center was replicating (not a 3D printing joke!) other work on campus (there are multiple entrepreneurship centers/classes/programs around UCSD — see here) and the decision was made to work within those offerings. Who knows?

What we do know is that many schools educate and support students interested in creating firms and many of those firms will fail, especially if they are truly attempting to innovate — this is after all entrepreneurship.

We also know that its great when entrepreneurship programs are integrated with regional ecosystems and engage innovators locally and am happy to see that Mr. Kuang and his colleagues in San Diego are looking for ways to support students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Its also nice to see that Mr. Kuang has a book. I had not heard of it before, but here is the Amazon page for From Start-up to Start: 20 Secrets to Start-Up Success. If anyone’s read it, let us know what you think.

New Master of Entrepreneurship Program | University of Michigan

The University of Michigan, a leader across many disciplines (and my alma mater) has announced the creation of a Master of Entrepreneurship. Its great to see it is a joint venture between business and engineering. I was fortunate to interview Michigan Alum and supporter Sam Zell a few months back and it was evident in our short talk that Michigan, its leaders, and supporters were fully aware of the interdisciplinary nature of entrepreneurship. This is a great development for Michigan and the practice, research, and teaching of entrepreneurship in higher education. From the Michigan Master of Entrepreneurship website:

The Michigan Master of Entrepreneurship (MsE) gives students the ability to create new technology-focused ventures, either as standalone entities or within established innovative organizations.

This instruction is not available through conventional business or engineering curricula. Most business schools focus on the skill set required in larger, more mature organizations. Most engineering programs do not include market assessment and commercialization skills. The MsE program brings these two cultures together in a novel synthesis that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The first students will begin in August 2012 and the application is available online. Go Blue! (I can write that, this is a blog!)

via Master of Entrepreneurship | University of Michigan.

Dingman Center Relaunches Site | Cupid’s Cup on Vimeo

Saw a tweet today regarding the relaunch of the Dingman Center Website. Check out their calendar, they have a lot going on.

Also, noticed that they released a Cupid’s Cup video about one month ago. Of course it features Maryland Alumn / Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.

Cupid’s Cup from University of Maryland on Vimeo.


Professors Spot Future Entrepreneurs

Interesting article in Forbes that highlights the perspective of the professor as students engage in entrepreneurship on campus and years after graduating. The piece focuses on some Wharton Profs and also mentions that the professor who helped Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their early days has ended up with a net worth of $1.6 billion. Not bad. Professors, are their billionaires in your midst? What can you do to help them realize their dreams. How can you and your school guide them as they attempt to lay the foundation for something great.

From the article by Keren Blankfeld:

Professors often get unique insight into how budding entrepreneurs work and strategize and sometimes they’ll also get a preliminary glimpse of an idea with great potential. Many business schools have entrepreneurial programs geared to those students, but sometimes a student who makes a mark might get personal attention from the professor outside of school.

In 1996 two students came to Reibstein with a business plan they were developing based on an idea that Reibstein had kicked around during a class lecture. The day after the students graduated he sat down with them and helped them develop a business plan that evolved into Bizrate and Shopzilla.

Students who are visionaries, are passionate about their business idea and have a good pulse in the marketplace have a good chance to succeed, says Reibstein. The two entrepreneurs who approached him had all those traits.

“Another thing is not trying to conquer the world,” said Reibstein. “People often think of the million customers they might get–but not of the first one. The first customer is really critical and the first five customers are very important.”

Scouting For Future Billionaires – Forbes.com.

Top 25 Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Colleges from Entrepreneur.com

Top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs according to Entrepreneur.com. Number 1 is Babson College in MA and number 25 is University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND.

Top 25 Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Colleges for 2009 – Entrepreneur.com.

Entrepreneurs: College Celebrity Entrepreneurs

Video with WordPress founder over at Forbes.com. Good interview and some highlights of various benefits of starting up on campus — freedom of time and also some solid support structures for firm foundation and launching.  Also highlights the celebrity founders who have dropped out — Jobs, Gates, and Zuckerberg.

Forbes.com Video Network | Entrepreneurs: College Celebrity Entrepreneurs.

Sparkseed Social Innovation Fund for Students Wins Financial Times Award

Just received the great news from our friends over at Sparkseed. They have won the Financial Times Best Social Investment strategy award against some pretty big hitters (McDonalds, The Gap, Microsoft). Sparkseed founder Mike Del Ponte explains, “Students have the creativity, passion, and drive to address issues like climate change, poverty, and global health through novel ventures. But they often lack the means to turn outside -the-box thinking into ideas that yield social dividends. Arming this untapped brain trust with the right resources will have untold benefits for society.”

Congrats to Mike and all of the social innovator and student entrepreneurs working with Sparkseed and to all who participated in the Financial Times – Just Means Social Innovation Awards.

Is the Entrepreneurial Generation Willing? Belmont U

Really solid post from Dr. Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University on whether more students were choosing entrepreneurship given the recent recession. There are some amazing things in his post given that Belmont is a small, private university and it underscores the importance of strong entrepreneurship programs with hands on faculty and effective entrepreneurship centers:

Each year we usually see about 15-20 new businesses started by our undergraduate students.  Mind you, they do this in the midst of taking classes and often while also working part-time.

This year we have seen a tripling of new practicing student entrepreneurs.  We went from 18 last year to 54 this year.  Keep in mind that these students are not just our majors.  They are coming from all across our campus from many different majors.

In my mind that is amazing. Read his entire post as it is well worth it and inspiring.

Is the Entrepreneurial Generation Willing? – The Entrepreneurial Mind.

Duke Law School Launches LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship

My research on entrepreneurship and universities in America has not taken me into many law schools. And to the best of my memory, I haven’t come across any law school students who launch start-ups. (Though I am sure some do exist and many have probably joined up with some MBAs or engineering students)

Appears that Duke University Law School is ready to do something about it and have launched an LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship.

From the program’s website:

Lawyers often are among a startup’s handful of founders or leadership teams. In this context, the relationship of the lawyer and the businessperson is so intertwined that a competent lawyer must understand business and a competent businessperson must understand the law. By focusing on this intersection, the new Law and Entrepreneurship LLM Program at Duke provides a valuable foundation for lawyers who plan to be involved with innovative ventures, either as advisers, executives or CEOs.

Building on Duke Law’s existing strengths in the fields of business law, intellectual property law, and innovation policy and strategic ties to entrepreneurial companies located in nearby Research Triangle Park, this program offers a distinctive and rigorous educational experience. It also meets a growing need within the legal and business communities for lawyers who can creatively counsel and lead the innovative ventures of today and tomorrow.