Monday, August 15, 2005

[Thoughts for Applicants:] Entrepreneurship Coursework at Chicago

It's that time of the year when applicants are probably considering schools and narrowing down who gets their undivided attention, sometimes love, and 200 bucks. From my own experience, one of the things I underpaid attention to was the school curricula. Partly because school reputation, alumni, recruiters etc got much more public attention as the key factors, and also because of the sort-of perception that you can't really go wrong if you go to a top school. Both true. But, the result of this thinking was that the first time around I didn't even consider Chicago because it was a 'finance' school. Re-application time, I looked closer and realized that obscured by that reputation was a very strong entrepreneurship program. I say strong based on the quality of faculty, infrastructure, and yes, coursework.

All the information is available on the website, but I thought I'd just collate it here in one place for those of you who might be interested. The pre-requisites required are usually a subset of those listed, depending on the professor.

34101 : Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity / Kaplan S., Meadow S., Weisbach M.
prereq: 35200, Corporation Finance/35201, Cases in Financial Management/35902, Theories of Financial Decisions II/33001, Microeconomics

"The chief objective of the course is to provide an understanding of the criteria for a successful entrepreneurial endeavor and the methods of analysis to make the proper judgment. The casework will consider ventures representing broad sectors of the economy, including telecommunications, healthcare and consumer services. These sectors will be used to examine entrepreneurial activity and analysis. The impact of the Internet as an enhancement to these sectors will be interwoven throughout."
- Prof. Meadow.

34102 : New Venture Strategy / Hapak S., Lowitz J., Schrager J.
prereq: 6 GSB courses completed.

"Emphasis is placed on producing a framework to analyze business opportunities of all sizes. The centerpiece is a series of models abstracted from the cases prepared during the course. These models allow the class to categorize ideas quickly, discuss benefits, note problems, and ideally, predict performance.

The class is not a series of "nuts and bolts" lectures about running small businesses, nor is it a guest lecture series. Students must be willing to become involved with the material and approach the topic with analytic rigor. From that, an organized way of thinking should evolve."
- Prof. Schrager.

34103 : Building the New Venture / Deutsch. W
prereq: 30000, Financial Accounting/37000, Marketing Strategy

"This course is intended for students who are interested in starting new businesses with a lesser emphasis on investing in start-up companies or buying existing firms. The course focuses on small company management and the development of new enterprises from both a strategic and a tactical, action-oriented, hands-on perspective. Students learn how to raise initial seed funding, compensate for limited human and financial resources, establish initial brand values and positioning, leverage a strong niche position, determine appropriate sourcing and sales channels, and develop execution plans in sales, marketing, product development and operations."

She just received the Innovative Method of Teaching Entrepreneurship Award for this course.

Personal Note - I was in her session during Admit Weekend and I blogged then: "My biggest take-away - the amount of passion she had for what she did. I must say I have not seen that in many of the professors I have had the chance to observe at various b-schools. It was motivating, to say the least." I am really looking forward to taking her class.

34104 : Special Topics: Developing a New Venture / Kaplan S., Rudnick E.
prereq: Advance to second round of New Venture Challenge.

"This course is designed to allow students who have advanced to the second round of the New Venture Challenge to develop their ideas into full business plans. Student teams will work largely on their own to develop their business plans. The class meetings consist primarily of plan presentations. Venture capitalists, private investors, and entrepreneurs will help critique and improve the plans during the presentations. The class meetings also will include presentations by a lawyer on the legal considerations of a new venture."
-
Prof. Kaplan.

34105 : Entrepreneurship Internship Seminar / Rudnick E.
prereq: selection as a Polsky Center Entrepreneur Intern or other approved internship.

"This course provides students who were selected to participate in the Polsky Center Entrepreneur Intern Program or Social Entrepreneur program a forum to strengthen their entrepreneurial network and insight skills. This is achieved through the development of unique case studies and analysis presented by the faculty, by outside entrepreneurs and by the students themselves. The students will also interact with the other interns through presentations and sharing of experiences in order to broaden their perspective on entrepreneurial/private equity career opportunities. Outside guest lecturers on entrepreneurship and leadership will be included as part of the classroom session. In addition to the forum sessions the students will have one-on-one meetings with the faculty advisor in the development of their own cases. The best cases developed in the class are entered into a national entrepreneurship case competition."

34106 : Commercializing Innovation / Meadow, S.
prereq: None.

"Using the case method, this course will focus on the strategy and tactics of forming, acquiring and growing new ventures i.e., increasing shareholder value for business ventures funded with private equity. The exit goal for these enterprises will follow an initial public offering or a sale in approximately 3 to 5 years. This course is meant to aid those students who are considering being part of an entrepreneurial project or evaluating such enterprises from the position of a public investor, private investor, or any stakeholder serving these emerging companies.
In order to familiarize the students with the strategy to approach success with these fragile companies, the course has been designed to consider the unique constraints upon the functional areas of marketing, operations, finance and strategic planning in entrepreneurial endeavors."

34110 : Social Entrepreneurship / Gertner R.
prereq: None listed.

"This course is about social entrepreneurship and non-profit management. There has been significant growth and attention given to borrowing ideas and institutions from the world of entrepreneurship and for-profits to social enterprises. We will study the theory and practice of this phenomenon.
We will study cases from a broad set of industries including the arts, community banking, microfinance, health care, the environment, and education. The course will largely be case discussions with occasional guest speakers and lectures."

34701 : New Venture and Small Enterprise Lab / Darragh L.
prereq: 2 full quarters of GSB coursework.

"This one-quarter course is intended for students who are interested in starting or working for a new venture and/or smaller business or are interested in consulting to such entities. This course is designed to apply the GSB's strong base of theoretical knowledge to the problems and opportunities of new ventures and smaller enterprises. Teams of three or four students work on specific strategic and operational projects for early-stage companies in the Chicago area. The students work with the venture's management under the guidance of the instructor. The clients represent diverse industries including technology, biotech, industrial and consumer based firms. Not-for-profit organizations and inner-city businesses may also be included."

34702 : Private Equity/Venture Capital Lab / Rudnick E.
prereq: 6 GSB courses.

"This course is intended for students who are interested in learning more about what it is like to work in or with private equity investors or a venture capital firm. The course is designed to complement the student's academic courses through hands-on experience in the analysis and understanding of investment decisions of venture capitalists/private investment firms.
Students will work as interns on specific assignments for venture capital/private equity firms. These assignments can range from evaluating new market or business opportunities for investment to working on specific issues/opportunities for portfolio companies. While the course is scheduled for the spring quarter, the internships may begin earlier and possibly continue beyond the spring quarter."

34703: International Entrepreneurship Lab - China / Kooser W. & Zmijewski M.
prereq: Need to apply and be selected, not available for bidding.

"This course is designed to provide MBA students with the frameworks and practical experience necessary to understand the nuances of starting or growing a business internationally. In particular, it will focus on the critical aspects of building a business in China. Given China's accession to the WTO and growing attention on business development there, there are increasing opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures of all sizes and types. However, success in this market requires both a solid mastery of business fundamentals and a deep understanding of China's unique cultural, regulatory and institutional frameworks.

The course will be run much like a GSB laboratory course. Many class meetings will consist of the project teams working on their analyses. And, in most cases, the direction of each project and the key issues that need to be addressed will be determined by the students themselves. The faculty coach will provide an overview of an analytic framework and general guidance on developing the projects.
"

Not a huge list, but I think a nice breadth that covers many aspects of preparing to start or finance new ventures. It is also worth keeping in mind that Chicago is one of very few schools where every course you choose is an elective. Even the *required* courses can be chosen from a basket of courses, and can be taken at the student's convenience. The full import of this flexibility is not inconsequential. Consider, for instance, that one wanted to take all of the above courses. There is the freedom to plan a course of action spread over two years rather than just one (in the case where Y1 is to be spent in Core). I am not saying one is better than the other, just different. I have not yet thought too much about my course selections but i suspect i am going to work backwards - pick the courses I really want to take, figure out what pre-reqs i need to get done, and spead them out over the two years in a smart fashion. One of the things I want to do is take Building New Ventures in my first year so that I have the option to spend the summer working on the idea as part of the Entrepreneurial Internship Seminar course. I have the freedom to make other choices along those lines.

I hope this was a useful listing. Good luck to all applicants as you take those GMATs and start to work on applications. Feel free to ping me on any questions relating to Chicago GSB or if you come to visit the campus. I will be happy to offer any assistance I can.
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