The next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs will play a critical role in fostering economic growth in the Treasure Valley in the years ahead. So how do we best prepare and inspire these students to succeed?
Venture College, a new program at Boise State University that begins in fall 2013, is an innovative approach to helping students acquire the vital skills, experience and support to pursue their dreams. Open to degree-seeking students across the university, Venture College is focused on preparing students, especially non-business students, to launch enterprises of economic and social value, some while they are still in school.
On March 18, Boise State University announced the formation of Venture College. I will serve as director. Ed Zimmer, retired CEO of ECCO Group, and Mary Andrews, Boise State's director of university and industry ventures, will join me as associate directors.
Venture College is a unique university-wide initiative independent of any academic college and structured as a concurrent, noncredit program. We will provide self-paced, on-demand access to knowledge, intensive mentoring and an opportunity to compete for resources needed to start a business.
Venture College Angels will guide the college. Made up of entrepreneurs, angel investors and successful business and nonprofit executives from the community, the angels will provide mentors to every student and help us secure internships for them.
The angels will hold the purse strings, a unique feature among university-based entrepreneurship programs. We expect to have a modest amount of capital to invest in the students.
Students will pitch the angels for capital, just as entrepreneurs pitch to angel funds. The angels will make the decisions on whether or not to invest and if so, how much. We believe this will inject reality into the students' work as they compete for resources and give them valuable experience.
Why has the university created this program? It is responding to multiple forces.
We know that some students have a passion for creating their own businesses. We can help those students achieve their dreams.
We know that one of the responsibilities of Boise State is to foster economic development. Helping students to launch businesses will contribute to economic development.
We know employers are asking that we provide skills training in addition to knowledge. The act of attempting to launch a business will help imbue our students with important skills.
Ed Zimmer, Mary Andrews and I will create an individual learning program for each student based upon his or her background, experience and idea. We will meet every Friday with the students to discuss progress, hear local entrepreneurs tell their stories, and deliver content important to all.
We will be selecting students this spring for the initial cohort. Applications are due April 12. Additional information is available at venture.boisestate.edu or by emailing me.
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