As the clock ticks down to the first day of the new academic year, 71 incoming first-year MBA students from around the country are spending their final days of summer learning the fine art of pursuing the big idea.
Known as the Swartz Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, the four-day intensive crash course is designed to prepare participants to hit the ground running with the skills and resources needed to start a new venture or contribute innovative ideas to more established corporations. The program resulted from a recent survey of Tepper students, which showed tremendous demand for entrepreneurial education as a precursor to the MBA experience.
“Because this is one of the few times in their lives when they are not committed to another company, many students want to use the entire MBA program to explore entrepreneurial activities,” said Erren Lester, MBA 2008, a co-organizer of the boot camp. “As early as possible, they want the frameworks and knowledge necessary to give their dreams a head start, whether a long-term idea that’s been percolating or a new venture started during their coursework.”
The boot camp will take place between July 28 and August 8, featuring nearly 30 speakers and led by veteran entrepreneurs Michael J. Partsch, a graduate of the Tepper School and Founder and CEO of AcceleMed Management, Inc, and Arthur Boni, director of the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship and the John R. Thorne Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School.
Topics will include the phases of building a business; conducting market research on a budget; finding and evaluating opportunities; market and financial modeling techniques; building an entrepreneurial team; and best practices for pitching ideas to venture capitalists.
The students also will be introduced to the vast collaborative resources available within Carnegie Mellon – such as University’s world renowned expertise in science, computer science, engineering, and robotics – as well as regional resources. Area venture capital and entrepreneurial technology-based economic development groups such as Innovation Works, Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse, Idea Foundry and the Technology Collaborative will connect with students through the boot camp, according to Boni.
For creative inspiration, students will hear first-hand the experiences of many industry veterans, either in person or via video teleconference from the heart of Silicon Valley. Among them are Cindy Padnos of Outlook Ventures; Eric Close of RedZone Robotics, Inc.; Dave Mawhinney of mSpoke; and Atila Omer of Collaborative Fusion. A group project that puts their newly acquired knowledge to the test will conclude the experience.
The Tepper School has long been considered a leader in entrepreneurial education and was one of the first business schools to offer formal entrepreneurship courses. A variety of activities and educational experiences are available through the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship throughout the MBA experience, including the James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Leadership Series, a series of seminars developed in 2006 to bring leading entrepreneurs to the Carnegie Mellon campus.
According to Boni, this new boot camp is a natural extension of the already world-class entrepreneurial education available at Tepper. “Students seeking to arm themselves with the skills and resources necessary to be successful entrepreneurs will be hard pressed to find a better place to be than the Tepper School,” he said.