Friday Factoid: Chicago Booth Offers Hands-On Entrepreneurship

Again we pose the rhetorical question: Chicago Booth is only a finance school, right? Wrong. In the past, we have discussed the strengths of the school’s marketing program, to the surprise of some. 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 New Venture Challenge (NVC), a business plan competition that in 2010 awarded $75,000 to students as seed money for winning bids. 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. The center has launched more than 50 companies that, in turn, have raised $100M 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 Booth EMBAs who make investments of up to $1M in start-ups. Although the HPA is an arms-length organization and does not exclusively source investments from Chicago Booth, it maintains a connection to the Polsky Center, which supports the HPA’s mission. The HPA offers students the opportunity to intern as associates and gain venture capital experience while at the school. In 2009–2010, seven Chicago Booth students served as HPA Associates.

We are just scratching the surface—again, Chicago is most definitely not “just a finance school.”

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