For MBA students looking for an unconventional internship alternative, Entrepreneurial Solutions (ES) provides students at Leeds School of Business with the opportunity to start their own consulting business. This year’s team including Jenny Swonger, Evan Land and Hayden Siekman, with the support of advisors from the University of Colorado, faced a challenge no previous Entrepreneurial Solutions teams have faced before - starting a business during a global pandemic. About 6 weeks into the launch of Entrepreneurial Solutions 2020, the team was advised to consider scrapping the idea of turning a profit, and to instead seek out pro-bono work. Despite a collapsing economy, Jenny, Evan and Hayden decided to test their luck and seek out paid projects after much deliberation.
With the exception of one unpaid project helping the University of Colorado - Boulder prepare for returning to classes online, this year’s team was not only happily surprised to become profitable, but have learned some incredibly valuable lessons. One of their first clients Entrepreneurial Solutions was paired with is the Center for Translational Research at the University of Colorado - Boulder. A new campus resource, this center supports faculty and their inventions on the path to become a startup company. Through this center, the team had a handful of projects researching various market opportunities.
One of ES’s longer running projects through the Center for Translational Research (CTR) is working with a new sensor technology spinning out of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Colorado. LumenAstra, the new startup, has created a novel sensor that has the ability to non-invasively measure core body temperature at precise locations several inches below the skin layer. Entrepreneurial Solutions researched a variety of applications for this technology including cancers, hyperthermia and hypothermia situations where knowing deep internal body temperature is critical. The team’s market analysis using the university’s databases and interviewing medical doctors specializing in these areas has provided target market opportunities for this technology, leading LumenAstra and the CU Lab to write grants for potential government funding.
In addition to CoreTemp, Entrepreneurial Solutions worked with MacCurdy Labs through the Center for Translational Research. They have developed tracking technology for the purpose of tracking wildlife, of which ES helped analyze the application of this technology. The team assessed the wildlife tracking market as well as other potentially viable markets for this technology. MacCurdy Labs also researches 3D printing body parts to use in presurgical modeling as well as printing heart valves. In order for their team to better understand the market in which they hoped to enter and innovate within, Entrepreneurial Solutions was able to define the size of the market, highlight key players, and provide analysis to better help the MacCurdy Labs team assess the needs of the market and understand how to strategically position themselves within it.
The team connected with previous Entrepreneurial Solutions alumni and worked on a project looking into the Electric Vertical Takeoff Vehicle market. One of our team members also contributed to a project from an aerospace start-up company. Both of these projects gave ES a wonderful introduction into how competitive the aerospace and engineering industries are, and the importance of a deep understanding of those industries and where they are headed in the future. We were able to provide both of these companies with comprehensive insights into their respective markets, competitor analysis, as well as industry updates in terms of legislative and regulatory actions and planning to come. These industries are some of the most innovative in the world, and the insights Entrepreneurial Solutions was able to provide allowed our clients to have a more robust understanding of the markets they hoped to disrupt.
Another client Jenny, Evan and Hayden worked with is a new start-up, Amari. Amari provides consumers with plant based supplement blends that champion their health, wellness and active vitality. These supplement blends contain CBD, which mainstream online advertisers like Facebook and Google inconsistently enforce policies on, making promotion through these channels difficult. As such, Entrepreneurial Solutions researched alternative advertising and marketing channel opportunities for their product.
While each project taught ES something new, the team recognized a few overarching themes for most of these clients. Navigating the myriad of databases provided by the University of Colorado was crucial in catching the consultants up to speed on the industries they were less experienced in. Providing a wealth of information, the team felt confident when presented with opportunities in complex industries and were able to pursue projects in industries they had not previously been exposed to. While the use of databases was critical to understanding the industry, the team found that interviewing potential clients, retailers and competitors is what really bridged the gap in their understanding of the market and helped present clients with new ideas.
As the team kicks off their second year of graduate school, they are returning with real-world experience, new connections and a clear sense of the best way to use their final year in their MBA program. The team is still actively recruiting clients and are always looking for ways to bring value to organizations. Thanks to opportunities that Entrepreneurial Solutions provided Jenny, Evan and Hayden, the team can say that they know what it takes to open - and run - a business.