TV for Student Entrepreneurs: The Mentor on Bloomberg TV

For students studying entrepreneurship, Bloomberg’s The Mentor is back for another season starting today, November 1. Interesting first episode during which Big Bear Choppers, makers of custom motorcycles, face operational, cash flow, and profit challenges.  Big Bear’s products are similar to Orange County Choppers (to an non-motorcycle rider like me) but the owners/operators of Big Bear are nothing like the Teutul family).

Lyndon Faulkner of Pelican Products comes in as their mentor and quickly assesses the situation and gives them assignments to tackle, including reaching out to customers (like that old united commercial), changing their cost structure, and creating a viable strategic plan.

Check out the 2 minute preview here.

Any other shows entrepreneurship students and young entrepreneurs should be watching?

WSJ on Stanford Student Startup Accelerator | StartX

American Free Enterprise pointed to a recent WSJ piece on Stanford’s Start-Up Accelerator. From the Pui-Wing Tam of the WSJ (sub required):

But StartX, which began last year, is the first time there has been a physical co-working space and a formal hands-on program with resources ranging from free legal advice to computer-server infrastructure for students, say Stanford faculty.

At StartX, Stanford students or recent grads undergo a three-month program where they receive free office space and attendant services, plus get to swap tips with other founders and take advantage of mentoring opportunities from venture investors and other experts. During the program, companies present at “demo days” to audiences of investors, students and others.

So far, 32 companies have graduated from StartX, with many receiving funding from venture-capital firms including Charles River Ventures, said Mr. Teitelman.

It is important to note that StartX was founded by a student, Cameron Teitelman, who is 22 years old according to the article. Others schools are interested in this model. (@auerswald has been pushing for a co-working space for GMU)


via American Free Enterprise. Dream Big. | Stanford Student Startup Accelerator Helping Entrepreneurs on Their Way.

MIT Student Entrepreneur Makes Climate Controlled Jacket

Cool article about an interesting innovation that an Indian student at MIT, Kranthi Vistakula dreamed up and executed on it. Love it. From the Economist Magazine:

His first approach was to build a jacket with built-in heating and cooling systems. Packed with motorised fans, heating pipes and electric wiring, the resulting apparel was bulky and weighed 7 kilograms. “When I wore it to college, my friends joked that I was going to blow up the place,” says Mr Vistakula. So he went back to the drawing board, and turned instead to a thermoelectric device called a Peltier plate, which operates like its better-known cousin, the thermocouple, but in reverse.

I shared that snippet because last year, a group of undergrad business students in my New Venture Creation class used a peltier system in their business plan for a efficient, constantly cooled & hygenic automatic salad dressing dispenser — no more crusty plastic bottles in melted ice at salad bars.

Vintakula of MIT has built a bunch of products and now has customers for his wares — both private and government. The company is Dhama Innovations — check out their stuff. Its pretty cool.

via Climate-controlled clothing: Don’t forget to recharge your jacket | The Economist.

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 –

The Early, Carnegie Mellon Days of College Prowler

Just searching through my data base of student entrepreneurs and came across, a firm started 10 years ago when Californian Luke Skurman was a Junior at Carnegie Mellon and thought about the problem of choosing colleges when schools are dispersed geographically and guarded in their public communications. From PopCityMedia (circa 2007):

In the fall of 2000, when Skurman was a college junior, the seed for the College Prowler was planted when he enrolled in the Entrepreneurship Program at Carnegie Mellon Business School. In the business plans for the Prowler project, his professor advised him to develop solid revenue streams and not rely solely on advertising, thus avoiding the fate of the dot.coms which had gone belly-up in the 90s. For the project to become a successful business venture it couldn’t sustain itself solely as a free information source on the web. What the Prowler needed was value as a physical product that could stand on its own, supported by sponsors and mentors in the community to underwrite its expanding growth.

The result? Pittsburgh proved itself a veritable greenhouse for nurturing Skurman’s dream with support from Glen Meakem, founder of FreeMarkets, Inc., Gerry McGinnis from Respironics, Inc., Tom O’Brien, former CEO of PNC, and Tim O’Brien of Plextronics, Inc.

The support came in other ways, too, since The Prowler endeavor has largely been a team effort of former classmates and graduates of various universities around Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania. Joey Rahimi from Manhattan heads up the online marketing and Omid Gohari from Potomac, Maryland oversees recruitment of writers for each school’s version of the guide.

“Four out of the five founders are not from Pittsburgh,” says Skurman, who now lives in Shadyside. “As recent graduates your inclination is to go back home…but we all shared Pittsburgh. So initially, it just made sense to be here. But after taking a step back what became really clear was that Pittsburgh was a great place.”



via Forever College Bound.

Jobzle – Rhode Island Student Entrepreneurs

Found Jobzle, a new niche job site that helps families and other ‘casual employers’ find part-time workers and interns from a labor market composed of students.

Founders include some Brown University engineering students and and a computer science major at the University of Rhode Island. From the site:

We created Jobzle because we believe that searching for a job, or searching for an employee, should be about making connections and finding the perfect fit – not about struggling through complicated websites full of features you don’t need.

Jobzle allows employers to quickly & inexpensively advertise part-time jobs and internships directly to college students. Whether you need a babysitter for the weekend or an intern for the office, Jobzle has you covered.

Looking forward to learning more about Jobzle and their approach. BTW, we recently posted on the upcoming 2011 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition (which will award nearly $200,000 to start ups in Rhode Island.)

Jobzle – The quick and easy way to hire college students..

Top 25 Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Colleges from

Top 25 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs according to 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 –

Student-Loan Debt Surpasses Credit Cards | WSJ

Further proof that the campus as market concept is huge and therefore likely to continue to attract entrepreneurs: according to the WSJ blog Real Time Economics, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt.

This is an interesting threshold, but what does this really mean?

As the article points out, rates are lower on student loan so shouldn’t people hold educational debt rather than credit card debt? Also, one is long-term investment and the other is short-term consumption.

From Mary Pilon of the Wall Street Journal:

In terms of volume, a person is likely to borrow more money to go to school today than, say, spend on necessities using a credit card during a patch of unemployment. Tuition at public and private four-year universities last year went as high as $26,000, with additional fees for housing and books not showing any signs of letting up either. It’s no surprise that many parents, reeling from the downturn, would turn to borrowing to make up the difference. With the cost of education increasing rapidly and the duration of unemployment increasing, perhaps the surprise is that this turning point didn’t hit earlier.

Student Loan Justice, a Washington State-based student loan advocacy group issued a statement on the student-loan eclipse, estimating that media coverage of credit cards exceeds coverage of student loans “by a factor of approximately 15-to-1 based on unscientific news surveys conducted since 2007.”

But student loan debt, in many ways, is different than credit-card debt. These loans typically can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. They have different repayment terms, some of which can catch some have heavy consequences for borrowers who miss payments and borrowers’ families.

Interesting piece that highlights some of the complexities of higher education and the opportunities for entrepreneurs to bring value to the campus as a market.

Student-Loan Debt Surpasses Credit Cards – Real Time Economics – WSJ.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson & Cisco to Hold Second Global Business Plan Competition

Cisco and leading venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson have announced their second annual global business plan competition for college and university students. The two firms will award $250,000 to the firm that wins this years DFJ and Cisco Global Business Plan Competition.

This competition makes use of some Cisco technology so participants can interact while building and presenting their firms. From the press release:

Leading global early-stage venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco today announced they will jointly hold the second annual global business plan competition for students aimed at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. The competition will leverage Cisco TelePresence(TM), which enables collaboration through a live, face-to-face video network communications experience, to allow finalists from around the world to present their business plans in real time to a joint panel of DFJ and Cisco executives based in San Jose.

The competition is designed to elicit new technology-oriented ideas from aspiring college and university student entrepreneurs around the world. Fourteen finalists will be announced on June 22, 2010. The winner, who will be announced on June 29, 2010, will receive a minimum of $250,000 seed money. The winner will also receive professional feedback and mentorship from both DFJ and Cisco.

“I could travel to over a dozen countries, visit hundreds of universities, spend months meeting with thousands of companies, but instead I get to see the best of the best during one single day via the geographic reach of the DFJ Global Network and the magic of Cisco TelePresence(TM),” said Tim Draper, managing director, DFJ. “Last year we held our first global business plan competition, and we were absolutely blown away by the caliber of the teams. These are resilient, nimble, and resourceful young entrepreneurs who follow their passions and make things happen. I have been in the venture industry for 25 years, and it’s entrepreneurs like these that will continue to inspire me for the next 25.”

This is a great opportunity for student entrepreneurs to gain some more knowledge, get some feedback, and continue their journey. Check out the site and check out some of last years finalists and what they are up to now.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Cisco to Hold Second Annual Global Business Plan Competition via Cisco TelePresence(TM) – MarketWatch.

Families Help Nurture Vanderbilt Entrepreneurs

Great piece from Sramana Mitra highlighting two entrepreneurs that launched an educational software firm, Archipelago Learning, out of Vanderbilt. Mitra highlights the importance of supportive friends and families as founders, especially young ones, begin the process of building a sustainable business.

From the piece:

Family suppoert allowed Vanderbilt University fraternity brothers David Muzzo and Cameron Chalmers in 2000 to cofound Study Island, an educational software company. Since then, the company changed its name to Archipelago Learning, went public and did $55 million in revenue last year.

One of their grandmothers had a condo in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that she was not using, and she let Muzzo and Chalmers live there rent free. The two friends spent a year-and-a-half developing what would become Archipelago.

The idea for Archipelago was to create a software application that let students enter the material they were trying to learn and share it with other students. Muzzo and Chalmers’ vision was that Archipelago would evolve into a shared library of academic content.

Mitra points out that the free rent may have been worth up to $20,000 in angel financing? So entrepreneurs, family and friends, be creative in how you can support the growing firm in front of you.

Families: Nurture Entrepreneurs –