Again we pose the rhetorical question: Chicago Booth is just a finance school, right? Wrong. In the past, we have discussed the strengths of the school’s marketing program, to the surprise of some. Likewise, we feel that not enough applicants are aware of Chicago Booth’s robust “hands-on” entrepreneurial offerings, available through its Michael P. Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. Where to begin?
Chicago Booth’s practical academic programs extend into the field of entrepreneurship with the school’s “New Venture and Small Enterprise Lab.” Herein, students work for up to ten hours per week for an entire quarter within a host firm or take on a dedicated project in a class designed to train those who intend to ultimately join start-ups or consult to them. In addition, the Polsky Center sponsors the annual Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC), a business plan competition that in 2012 awarded $225,000 to students in the form of cash, legal services and professional consulting for their winning business plans. Up to four winners of the NVC are invited to join the ARCH Venture Partners New Business Incubator for one year (or until they receive funding to launch their businesses), where they benefit from faculty support and office resources. Since 1996, the center has helped launch more than 85 companies that, in turn, have raised $275M in capital in spaces as diverse as payment solutions, flexible solar panels, food preparation and children’s toys.
Further, entrepreneurially minded Chicago Booth students can apply for funding from the Hyde Park Angels (HPA), a group of former Chicago Booth Executive MBA students who make investments of between $250,000 and $1M in start-ups. Although the HPA is an arms-length organization and does not source investments exclusively from Chicago Booth, it maintains a connection to the Polsky Center, which supports the HPA’s mission. So, students hoping to get in front of the HPA’s investment committee will have a built-in networking advantage. Further, the HPA offers students the opportunity to intern as associates and gain venture capital experience while pursuing their MBA at Chicago Booth. Tom Ancona, assistant director of the HPA, told mbaMission that eight to ten students generally serve as HPA associates during the school year, while two serve over the summer.
Believe it or not, we are just scratching the surface here. Again, Chicago Booth is most definitely not “just a finance school.”
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