Venture Launch Pathway is an experiential learning opportunity for MBA students consisting of the following phases.
- Entrepreneurship Seminar, 3 credits (1 each term)
- Recognizing Entrepreneurial Opportunities, 3 credit course
- Technology Entrepreneurship Program (TEP), Summer Fellowships
- New Venture Planning, 3-credit course (fall term)
- Venture Startup, two 4-credit courses (winter and spring terms)
During the first three terms of the MBA program, students in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track attend a weekly seminar. This seminar hosts guest speakers, activities, and skills training related to entrepreneurship and launching successful ventures. Students have opportunities to meet successful entrepreneurs, experts in technology commercialization, attend angel investing conferences, and practice their networking and presentation skills in preparation of further developing their own entrepreneurial ideas.
Recognizing Business Opportunities (MGMT 610)
This course introduces the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, which empowers individuals to confront what others see as insurmountable problems and to seek opportunity through technological and business solutions. Entrepreneurship is a spirited approach to business leadership that involves identifying high-potential opportunities, gathering resources such as talent and capital, and managing rapid growth and significant risks using principled decision-making skills. An entrepreneurial perspective is also a critical way of thinking in order to tackle new opportunities in government, social ventures, and life.
Technology Entrepreneurship Program
Technology Entrepreneurship Program (TEP) is a major component in the experiential framework of the Oregon MBA program and for law and science graduate students interested in entrepreneurship. Working in interdisciplinary teams provides real-world experience not available in any other academic program at the University of Oregon.
TEP was created through a unique consortium of cosponsors for entrepreneurship education and technology commercialization, including Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), University of Oregon Office of Technology Transfer, Oregon Health and Science University, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, UO Center for Law and Entrepreneurship, faculty inventors, professional schools, private investors, and state and local economic development programs.
TEP Fellow Selection and Summer Fellowship Program
Each spring applicants are solicited from first-year MBA students, second-year law students, and graduate students from the sciences to be selected as TEP Fellows and assigned to interdisciplinary teams. After applicants are screened and fellows selected, program staff present the new TEP Fellows with a specific technology from a program partner. TEP Fellows confer with scientist inventors from each technology provider organization, ‘get out of the building’ for customer discovery research, and collaborate with regional businesses and entrepreneurs with expertise in the specific field.
Between June and August, TEP Fellows teams complete a technology assessment, market assessment, and business feasibility assessment. Work is guided and supported by faculty advisors with expertise in technology commercialization as well as from mentors recruited from the professional venture investing, legal, and new product development communities. During the summer fellowship phase, teams have three deliverables centered around the following issues:
- Market opportunity analysis
- Competitive set analysis
- Marketing strategy development
- Business model development
- Intellectual property landscape evaluation
- Intellectual property protection strategy
- Financial modeling
At summer's end, TEP teams deliver an in-depth written and oral assessment of their technology's potential for commercialization to a distinguished audience that includes UO stakeholders; business, law and research contacts; stakeholders from technology providers; entrepreneurs and investors; and executives from Oregon technology corporations and economic development agencies. TEP is a regional technology commercialization collaboration. The community of TEP technology provider partners includes relationships with Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, Washington, The National Energy Technology Lab in Albany, Oregon, Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, and Oregon’s signature research centers ONAMI and Oregon BEST.
Historically, about half of the TEP teams proceed to develop a business plan in the New Venture Planning course. The other half determine that their technology or chosen markets are not sufficiently attractive. The program emphasizes that determining to not start a business is also a highly valuable outcome.
New Venture Planning (MGMT 625):
TEP teams that conclude that their technology represents a highly attractive commercial opportunity may go on to enroll in New Venture Planning, the Lundquist College of Business's fall term graduate business planning course. In transitioning to this phase, TEP venture team memberships may change to add specific expertise or to account for other gaps. In addition, teams of students with their own business ideas can also enter New Venture Planning. Within the framework of the low-risk university setting, students will have the opportunity to engage customers, suppliers, and experts in the market area in primary research and apply their findings within their groups to build professional business plans and investor presentations for launching the new venture. Throughout this experiential process, the up to eight teams are supported by faculty and several outside mentors, who all emphasize the value of the strategic planning process.
Venture Startup I and II (MGMT 609)
In early December, TEP teams present their business plans at Venture Quest, the Lundquist College of Business's internal business plan competition. Feedback from the judges is especially valuable for those teams that wish to proceed down the Venture Launch Pathway.
In the remaining weeks of winter term and spring term, the most successful teams might be invited to represent UO in Venture Startup. In this phase, team memberships often change as teams evaluate their personnel gaps. Only those who have taken the Venture Quest will be eligible to participate in Venture Startup.
In the first six weeks of Venture Startup, plans and presentations are honed to a very high level through close interactions with faculty, and exposure to feedback from scores of venture capitalists, angel investors, and service providers to entrepreneurial businesses. This is a truly "live-fire" experience, with the investors treating the students like anyone else asking for money.
External competitions are in several continental U.S. locations, Canada, and Asia. Most teams that compete will go to two to four competitions with varying prestige levels. Presenting in front of the judges is an excellent experience for the students, and in addition, the top three teams earn cash prizes.
At the conclusion of the Venture Launch Pathway, students have learned the process for recognizing opportunities, evaluating the business potential of that opportunity, creating the best execution plan that is possible in an academic setting, and how to orally present their ideas in a compelling manner. Whether the business actually starts up or not is not the point. About 5 percent of students historically have actually started up after this process, but 100 percent have developed skills that will set them apart from their peers on the job market by providing added value to potential employers.