I envy the young would-be entrepreneurs in the universities today. A growing number of schools and universities are offering classes, mentorships and valuable support to students with entrepreneurial dreams.
First there’s the business plan competition, where students’ business plans are critiqued and judged and the best ones receive valuable startup capital ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. There are even stories of situations where students presenting in the business plan competition got funding for their fledging business ideas because some venture capitalists or investors heard about the business plan and want in on the action (case in point: how Jenny Lefcourt started WeddingChannel.com ).
Some schools with business plan competitions include:
- UC Berkeley http://bplan.berkeley.edu/
- Rice University http://alliance.rice.edu/alliance/RBPC.asp
- Pepperdine University http://bschool.pepperdine.edu/students/bplan/
- Johns Hopkins University http://www.jhu.edu/bpc/
- University of Texas at Austin http://www.mootcorp.org/
- University of Washington http://bschool.washington.edu/cie/bpc/
- University of San Francisco http://www.usfca.edu/sobam/nvc/bpc/index.html
Aside from business plan competitions, there’s incubation assistance that some universities provide.
Belmont University , for example, runs a business hatchery program for students called Practicing Student Entrepreneur Program. Under this program, students can get access to an office space complete with desks, phones, fax machines, copier, etc. Students also get the chance to interact and get advice for seasoned entrepreneurs in the university.
The University of Central Florida offers a technology incubation program which offers mentorship and advice-giving in all aspects of business development, access to office space and office equipment, networking opportunities, marketing and PR support, among others.
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New Year offers one of the oldest incubation programs wholly owned by a learning institution.