Dingman Center Leverages Angel Network to Create Smith MBA Course

Through its strong connections to the local startup community, largely through the Dingman Center Angels, the Dingman Center rolled out a new MBA course this year called Venture Practicum. Coupled with a Venture Internship Program, this new experience is unique among universities nationwide. Venture Practicum is part of the Smith School of Business’ experiential learning program called the Smith Experience. These courses/projects are intended to give students real-world, hands-on experience. In addition to Venture Practicum, the Dingman Center offers Technology Commercialization and the China Business Plan Competition through Smith Experience.

Venture Practicum combines site based practical work experience at a local startup company with coursework exploring strategic growth and financing of early stage companies. Participating startups are sourced through the Dingman Center Angels investor network and other regional partners. The course content exposes students to the opportunities and challenges of starting and growing a new venture.

“Venture Practicum extends our network of local startups to the MBA classroom,” said Elana Fine, Managing Director of the Dingman Center. “Our local entrepreneurs can now come to us for resources beyond funding.”

To begin the process, interested startups submit a potential project and are then matched with students based on skill set and shared interest. Projects vary from market research, competitor analysis and customer acquisition strategy. Students begin the course with a daylong bootcamp introducing them to a set of key concepts and organizational processes that are associated with venture emergence. Students spend a majority of their “class” time in their host firms and will identify specific problem areas to help the startup address and define the nature of the solution. Students complete a workplan and deliver a final presentation of deliverables at the end of the Spring semester.

Through Venture Practicum students are exposed to other early stage companies and the angel capital fundraising process through required participation in one Dingman Center Angels Review Day. Following the completion of the course, students receiving internship offers may apply for matching salary funding through the Dingman Center and the Smith Office of Career Services’ Venture Internship Program.

Listed below are the local startups that participated in Venture Practicum. Read here about one MBA student’s experience.

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