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
- 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 635)
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.
New Venture Planning (MGMT 625)
New Venture Planning, the Lundquist College fall term graduate business planning course, is where the business models of startups begin to take shape. In this course, teams take their ideas—that may come from summer projects, unique technologies and opportunities they’ve found in the community, or their own passions—and break them down into the basic building blocks of a business. New Venture Planning applies the latest in Business Model thinking and Lean Startup methodologies to enable students to evaluate their business model feasibility. In transitioning to this phase, 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)
As a part of their venture planning course, graduate students will formally present their venture plans in December to an audience of peers, mentors, and professionals. An integral part of the MBA entrepreneurship concentration, these graduate venture student presentations will provide an opportunity for graduate teams to top northwest business professionals and receive feedback. Each comprehensive business plan details the business strategy, management team, product or service offering, market analysis, financial plan and marketing plan.
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 participated in New Venture Planning 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.