Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation

Baylor Business Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation

Applied Ventures Course Offers Students Opportunity to Create Profitable Companies

Feb. 1, 2012

Offered for the first time in fall 2011, Baylor's Accelerated Ventures course affords students who show strong entrepreneurial drive the opportunity to create real companies and generate real sales, all within a single semester.

Four teams of three students are each given a $4,000 no-strings attached grant to start a profitable company. This course not only allows students to conceptualize a business plan for a new company, but also raise funds and launch products and services to truly understand the entire startup process. Team members own their companies entirely and have the freedom to keep, sell, close, or merge their companies with another venture at the end of the semester.

The foundational principles required for starting up a new business are taught to students in this course by Baylor faculty member Dr. Les Palich, Baylor alumnus David Grubbs, and a board of veteran serial entrepreneurs. Casey Barillas, one of last semester's Accelerated Ventures class members, states that "students were given a stellar team of advisors, from app development gurus to online marketing geniuses."

Twelve students are selected after rounds of vigorous interviews to participate in the Accelerated Ventures course. Before class even begins, the students are given access to the course curriculum and begin actively participating in conference calls to begin the brainstorming phase. Once the semester starts, teams have 45 days to set up and launch their business in the hopes of becoming profitable by the end of the semester.

The course is broken up into three different phases and is designed to teach students the essential skills to successfully plan, analyze, set up, develop, test, market and protect their company. In the first phase, students finalize their business concept, business model, and launch their product or service to the public. In the second phase, the teams optimize and test their marketing and advertising campaigns. They also refine their product or service, business model, internal operations, and customer service procedures to prove their business assumptions and prepare to scale. Finally, in the third phase, students take their proven business model and incrementally scale their business to generate profit, surpass their break-even point and further grow their business.

Through the Accelerated Ventures course, students grow in ways that they don't initially anticipate. According to Barillas, "Accelerated Ventures was a huge learning experience for me. Just as expected, nothing went perfectly or according to plan. My biggest takeaways were substantive as well as emotional. I learned a lot about the step-by-step process of starting a business. I realized that hundreds of great applications exist online to help entrepreneurs. I experienced firsthand that starting a business is very difficult but that a great way to do it is to start with something you know well. If you are passionate about what you do and are good at it, those two things together can create magic. Thanks to Baylor and the Accelerated Ventures course, at 21, I own my own business."

Progress of each team's business can be viewed on the website in the form of webisodes. Each webisode follows the individual teams as they take their businesses from start to finish.

For more information about the class please email David Grubbs or Dr. Les Palich at Les_Palich@baylor.edu.

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