Idaho Technology by Mark Rudin: Boise State's Venture College will train business leaders

MARK RUDIN, vice president of research and economic development, Boise State University, and member of the Idaho Technology Council Board of Trustees.

MARK RUDIN, vice president of research and economic development, Boise State University, and member of the Idaho Technology Council Board of Trustees.July 9, 2013 

Mark Rudin.JPG

Mark Rudin

To create future businesses and jobs, it's critical to make an investment in fostering the growth of the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders. That's why Boise State University's Venture College, an innovative new program intended to create experienced, savvy entrepreneurs, is such a valuable opportunity for both students and the Idaho business community.

Prospective entrepreneurs face many challenges. They need experiences that can't be easily gained in a traditional classroom. To address this, the Venture College will provide a unique approach to helping students gain skills, experience and support to successfully launch their ideas. This program is open to students from any major.

Because each student is in a different stage in the journey of launching a business, the Venture College will give personalized guidance to help students develop viable business plans. Students will have self-paced and on-demand access to knowledge, mentoring and resources to help them. Students will also have access to a limited pool of early-stage capital that they will compete for. What makes this program unique is its utilization of the business community as a key resource.

Idaho business leaders have already given an exceptional amount of support to the Venture College. More than 200 Idaho professionals have volunteered their time and expertise to help mentor students. The include key business and Idaho Technology Council leaders such as Kriss Kirchhoff, president of the Boise Angel Alliance; Denise Dunlap, director of the TECenter; and Joel Hickman, Idaho president of U.S. Bank. When students compete for capital, they will pitch their ideas to local angel investors, who will decide which ideas are worthy of funding.

The Venture College provides value to both students and the business community. Students benefit from gaining firsthand access to business leaders and resources in the community. Students with a burning desire for entrepreneurship will no longer have to drop out of school to start a business and assume all of the associated risks. Through the Venture College, students will be able to test the viability of their business models in a controlled setting.

Businesses benefit from growing the next generation of entrepreneurs who can develop the business ecosystem and from being connected to promising new ideas that could be the "next big thing." Even if students fail to launch their businesses, Silicon Valley visionaries say that understanding the valuable lessons of failure contributes to next-stage success - sometimes home-run success. Students will still gain new skills, and business leaders who help guide their development will be in an optimal position to recruit new talent to their organizations.

We believe the Venture College could become a program that could build Boise State's reputation as a global leader in fostering entrepreneurship. However, to do so, we need the continued support of the business community. We appreciate professionals interested in mentoring students and guiding their future growth. Because we need early-stage funding for the Venture College, financial donations are welcome. They will allow us to admit a larger number of students to the program. By preparing our students early for the intense demands of entrepreneurship, we will foster economic growth in Idaho.

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