Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Huskies are top dogs in entrepreneurship

More and more colleges and universities are promoting themselves as hotbeds of entrepreneurship, creating courses and even degree programs in this field.  I think one measure of the fertility of a college campus for this discipline is the extent to which the students take it upon themselves to create a club to support potential and budding entrepreneurs in their midst.

In that regard, I want to pay tribute to one local entrepreneurship club, at a university that might surprise some of you who immediately think of the Ivy Leagues or high technology schools.  In a recent ranking by FledgeWing, the Northeastern University Entrepreneurs Club was listed as number six in the world.  Among other things, the club holds Get Togethers, which attract over 100 students every week and involve a C-level executive speaking, a hands-on skill building activity, networking, and giving everyone in the room a free dinner.  It also helps students find courses by endorsing those helpful in this field.  Its Entrepreneurship Immersion Program connects growing companies with an enthusiastic student panel through a semester-long partnership:

The EIP enables students to develop business partnerships and cultivate potential job opportunities while providing businesses with contemporary knowledge and opinion through multifaceted student critique and analysis.

Club president Greg Skloot is grateful to the University for the financial support offered by various departments.  He is quick to share credit for the success of the club with his schoolmates.  Greg, though, has noticed that a fast-growing and busy organization like this needs structure and a sensible reporting system.  But he also knows that part of his job is to develop the next generation of leaders:

I give younger members of my team leadership opportunities as soon as they prove themselves capable of doing quality work and collaborating effectively in a team environment. The more opportunities that you give your team to manage, the better managers that you will have to work with.

The Northeastern model is one that could be useful to students in  many college and universities.  Perhaps Greg's next entrepreneurial venture should be to write a book about his experience at NU and go on the circuit as a speaker and consultant to help spread the concept.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Thanks so much for this Paul - excellent post!

As you mentioned, a key factor for the club's success is the student run aspect - there is rarely ever a faculty member in the room at our weekly Get Togethers... the organization is entirely run by students. As a result, those students feel a strong sense of ownership for the results and are passionate about building the group to be bigger and bigger.

There are a ton of parallels between this and engaging customers in a business. Creating an atmosphere where the customers (in our case club members) have such a burning passion, sense of pride and ownership for a company will result in happy and loyal customers that keep coming back. That is absolutely how we are able to keep 100+ students returning every single week to the Entrepreneurs Club at Northeastern.

In the past 6 months, I have had the privilege of speaking with new club leaders at several universities across the country advising them on how to build a great student organization. The model we have built at NU is definitely a compelling one, and I'll be working this quarter on translating it into easy to implement processes so it can be replicated at many other schools.

Thank you again for the praise and advice! For any other students out there building an organization, I'd be glad to share any insight my team and I have picked up along the way, just shoot me an email.