As a retired entrepreneur and now coach for the Business Minor Capstone class, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing how CU students can step up to the challenges of building a business from scratch. The BUSM 4010 capstone class allows students to think and act like entrepreneurs. The course walks the students through all the elements of building a business from scratch. At the end of the course, the students will have created a business plan, built prototype products, tested them with customers and presented their business idea in a “Shark Tank” style pitch to a panel of investors. Visda Carson, the instructor for this class, and I had a chance to talk about how the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed our world. In business, when you are faced with such significant changes, you sometimes need to “Pivot” your business to the changing dynamics around you. As we thought about how to continue teaching this class during the outbreak, we realized that the pandemic presented a great opportunity to offer our students the ability to “Pivot” their business ideas to something that supports our local community.
With the support of Erick Mueller and Brad Werner, we developed new curriculum for the course, secured $25K of seed funding for the teams pivoting to the COVID-19 business plans and are now offering this opportunity to other Entrepreneurial classes throughout Leeds and CU. The new business plans will include identifying problems that our local community is facing during this pandemic, coming up with solutions to these problems, and then validating these solutions with customers. The teams can get funding for their ideas through the “Get Seed Funding” program led by the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship. At the end of the year, the students can pitch their ideas during the Shark Tank format for additional funding if they want to continue with their business idea after school is out. So far, the response from this program has been terrific. We’re thrilled to offer such an opportunity for our students to create solutions during these difficult times while experiencing entrepreneurship for real.