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University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

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David Doepfner[email protected]

How to Start a Startup at UChicago


Student Groups

Business and Entrepreneurship in the Health Sciences - Students interested in utilizing their STEM backgrounds to enter the business realm.

International Leadership Council - Provides experience developing/creating a start-up through projects, market trend discussions, and investment banking case competitions.

UChicago Investing Forum - Collaborates with the Booth School of Business, Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and more for speaker events.

Rockefeller Business Management - Partnered with the Polsky Center (undergraduate startup incubator), RBM hosts business workshops and lectures, offering members part time jobs/internships with startups.

Midway Ventures - a student-run venture capital and startup consulting group based out of the University of Chicago. We share a passion for entrepreneurship, venture capital, and technology. Some of us are founders ourselves.

Uncommon Hacks - CS club that runs a series of workshops + annual hackathon that 50+ students build and participate in.

Engineering Society - an open project / workshop group focused on tech/robotics builds.

Entrepreneurship & VC Group (Booth) - Official Student Group for all things related to Entrepreneurship & VC affairs at Booth (Ji Hoon is a Co-chair for 2020-2021)

University Resources

The Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) - enables first-year Booth students in the Full-Time MBA program who demonstrate continued interest in entrepreneurship the opportunity to gain experiential learning that is critical to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Innovation Fest - UChicago Innovation Fest, which takes place every May, celebrates pioneering discovery and entrepreneurial endeavors at the University of Chicago. Led by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the month of events, workshops and accelerator programs, including the globally recognized Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge, highlights the breadth and impact of innovation at UChicago in the areas of entrepreneurship and research commercialization, scientific advancements, and social and global impact.

Alumni Entrepreneurs Growth Forum - Invite-only program with faculty-led sessions on topics of great interest to growth-stage entrepreneurs, such as scaling the sales organization, HR, leadership, organizational strategies, and company culture.

C200 Reachout Scholar Awards at Chicago Booth - three $10,000 awards support Booth students with demonstrated commitment to entrepreneurship, innovation, social impact, and the advancement of women.

UChicago Startup Investment Program - the University of Chicago co-invests alongside established venture funds in startups led by UChicago faculty, students, staff and alumni. The University has set aside $25 million from its endowment to invest in startups

Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation - Through education, resources, and programs, the Polsky Center commercializes discoveries, partners with companies, and attracts venture capital. The Polsky Center runs a top-ranked business accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge and operates a 34,000 square-foot, multi-disciplinary co-working space called the Polsky Exchange; an innovation fund, the George Shultz Innovation Fund, that invests in early-stage ventures; and a state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab for prototyping new products. Finally, the Polsky Center manages the University of Chicago's technology transfer function that manages all University-based intellectual property originating from faculty research and discoveries, which can be licensed to industry partners and investors.

The Polsky Exchange - operated by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is a 34,000 square foot coworking space located on 53rd Street in Hyde Park. Membership is free for all University students, faculty and staff.

Women and Entrepreneurship Conference - The Learn, Launch, Lead: Women & Entrepreneurship Conference brings together Chicago's entrepreneurship community for a day-long gathering of panels, practical workshops, pitches, and networking. The event features founders, investors, industry leaders, and a keynote presentation as well as founder's stories from women in entrepreneurship, panels on best practices for diversity and inclusion, and plenty of guidance for entrepreneurs starting and growing their businesses.

Polsky Small Business Growth Program - supports small businesses owners to help them grow and scale their businesses to the next level of success. With funding from JPMorgan Chase, and in partnership with the Office of Civic Engagement, this program is part of the nationwide Ascend 2020 program, which partners with top universities and institutions to provide business assistance and opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Polsky Life Sciences Launchpad - The Polsky Life Sciences Launchpad provides hands-on, end-to-end support for select translational, life sciences research projects with the goal of launching them into investable startup ventures.

Polsky I-Corps - In 2014, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation launched the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to empower UChicago scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas. Supported with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and run by the Polsky Center, the I-Corps program is specifically designed for participants working on projects related to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

Rattan L. Khosa Student "Against All Odds" Award - Awarded to any Full-Time, Evening, or Weekend MBA Program student graduating within the 2019-2020 academic year who has overcome significant obstacles and demonstrated a spirit of entrepreneurship to launch or significantly grow a new venture.

Hackathons and Competitions

UChicago Mobile App Challenge - cultivates app ideas from across the University and grants $10,000 to winning mobile applications.

Uncommon Hacks - A weekend-long hackathon where college students from everywhere come to Chicago to make fun and innovative tech-related projects. Join the Uncommon Hacks club to help organize the event.

uVCIC - UChicago undergraduate students can participate in the uVCIC, which is organized by UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship.

Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) - Since 2005, Chicago Booth has participated in the VCIC under the leadership of faculty coordinator Scott Meadow and with the support of the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital (EVC) group at Chicago Booth and the Polsky Center. Winners from this competition head to the regional bracket with a chance of competing at the national and global finals.

Accelerators and Incubators

The Polsky Accelerator - Accepts 10-12 teams to participate and work intensively and solely on their businesses and social enterprises in a collaborative and dynamic environment over the summer.

College New Venture Challenge (CNVC) - Students propose a business venture and compete for seed funding.

Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) - Helps students launch for-profit and nonprofit ventures that have a social impact mission.

Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) - Through the NVC, the Polsky Center has graduated more than 330 startup companies. NVC startups have raised more than $1 billion in funding and achieved more than $7.5 billion in mergers and exits.

Alumni New Venture Challenge - open to all University of Chicago alumni who are in the process of launching and developing their startup ventures. The ANVC follows a similar phased timeline and rigorous, milestone-driven structure that is found in all tracks of the existing NVC.

Global New Venture Challenge - The Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) is the dedicated track of the Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge program that supports Chicago Booth Executive MBA students worldwide. Second-year students in the Chicago Booth Executive MBA program are eligible to apply to the GNVC and participate as one of their capstone course requirements.

Notable Courses

CNVC and NVC accelerators also run during the school year and double as courses

Undergraduate Courses

BUSN 20160. Accounting for Entrepreneurship - Cover topics at the earliest states of a business, such as setting up the initial accounting infrastructure, through to the companies exit to a strategic buyer, a private equity firm or an IPO.

BUSN 20330. Building the New Venture - The emphasis is managerial and entrepreneurial, essentially a working model for starting an enterprise.

MBA Courses

Entrepreneurial Discovery - Entrepreneurial success is driven by passion, execution and leadership but at its core is identifying the right problem to solve and creating a solution that truly addresses customers' needs or empowers an unmet desire. While business ideas are "a dime a dozen", building a viable business model on the right idea is invaluable. In both start-up entrepreneurship and corporate intrapreneurship, pursuing wrong ideas or models waste precious time, resources, and energy.

Entrepreneurial Selling - The goal of this course is to make you as efficient and effective in selling (persuasion) as possible, so that when you are spending time selling, not a moment is wasted. Why? Because as an entrepreneur (and a human), the way you spend your time determines success and failure.

Special Topics in Entrepreneurship: Developing a New Venture (New Venture Challenge) - This course is designed to allow students who have advanced to the second round of the New Venture Challenge to develop their ideas into businesses. Student teams will work largely on their own to develop their businesses. The class meetings consist primarily of business presentations. Venture capitalists, private investors, and entrepreneurs will help critique and improve the ideas and businesses during the presentations. The class meetings also will include sessions on presentation skills, financial modeling, and legal considerations in a new venture.

Private Equity/Venture Capital Lab - The Merrick M. Elfman and Therese L. Wareham Private Equity Lab was created for Chicago Booth students to learn firsthand about the private equity and venture capital industries. Through the combination of an intensive internship at a private equity or venture capital firm and an academic course, students become active participants in the analysis of real-world investment decisions made by seasoned investors and also learn to apply their academic frameworks to their internship experiences.

New Venture Strategy - This course primarily is designed to benefit entrepreneurs, early stage investors and corporate managers responsible for new ventures. The course builds non-mathematical models of success in the world of entrepreneurial business through intensive analyses of both archival and current cases. Students are required to analyze assigned cases carefully, develop and discuss new cases, and present a well-developed new business proposal to the class.

Building the New Venture - This course is intended for students who are interested in starting new entrepreneurial businesses. It is a tactical and hands-on class that covers the nuts and bolts of starting a company, with a lesser emphasis on investing in entrepreneurial ventures. Course material is organized around the milestones and phases that entrepreneurs must complete in pursuit of building their business. Students will learn how to raise seed funding, compensate for limited human and financial resources, establish brand values and positioning, secure a strong niche position, determine appropriate sourcing and sales channels, and develop execution plans in sales, marketing, product development and operations. The emphasis is managerial and entrepreneurial, essentially a working model for starting an enterprise.

Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity - The primary objective of the course is to provide an understanding of the concepts and institutions involved in entrepreneurial finance and private equity markets. To do this, the course has been designed to be broad and comprehensive. We will explore private equity from a number of perspectives, beginning with the entrepreneur/issuer, moving to private equity - venture capital and leveraged buyout - partnerships, and finishing with investors in private equity partnerships. For each class meeting, study questions will be assigned concerning a case study. We will discuss these questions and the material in the case for most of the class period. Before each case discussion, each student will be required to submit a memorandum (up to two pages) of analysis and recommendations. Group work is encouraged, but not required on these short memoranda. Memoranda with up to three names on them are acceptable. We will use journal articles and some lectures to supplement and enhance the case discussions. All required cases and supplementary readings will be posted online in Canvas.

Commercializing Innovation - This course will focus on the strategy and tactics of forming, acquiring, and growing new ventures i.e., increasing shareholder value for business ventures funded with private equity. It is designed to aid those who are considering being part of an entrepreneurial project or evaluating such enterprises from the position of a public investor, private investor, or any stakeholder serving these emerging companies. The course will consider ventures representing broad sectors of the economy, including retail (both traditional and online), health care, telecommunications, consumer services, and businesses enhanced by the internet.

Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation - The objective of this course is to study social innovation with a focus on the role of social entrepreneurship for developing and scaling innovative solutions to society's problems. Students (alone or in teams of two) will identify an opportunity for an innovative social venture, research the relevant academic literature, conduct extensive customer discovery, analyze the competitive landscape, validate and refine the product/service, propose a business model, go-to-market strategy, articulate the venture's underlying theory of change, and identify an impact measurement/management strategy.

Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition - Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition ("ETA") will give students frameworks and real world solutions to use if they decide to pursue an acquisition of and lead a company. The class will walk through the life cycle of a typical path toward finding and running a business including information on fund formation, raising capital, searching for a company, buying a business, leading that business and then ultimately selling it. Approximately half of the course will go through critical points leading up to buying a business, while the other half will address some of the key issues executives face while running a company (identifying metrics, communicating with a team, interviewing, handling HR issues, etc). Although the main focus will be on buying and running a business, the class is designed to be applicable to many other career paths including private equity, venture capital and entrepreneurship.

Accounting for Entrepreneurship: From Start-up through IPO - This course develops and illustrates a set of tools needed to provide accounting and related functions for private, entrepreneurial firms. The class will follow the life-cycle of a business that originates as a start-up and will cover the accounting-related financial metrics, and the managerial, financial and tax accounting issues that are needed by an entrepreneur. We will cover topics relevant at the earliest stages of a business, such as setting up the initial accounting infrastructure, through to the company's exit. The exit would typically be to a strategic buyer, a private equity firm, or via an IPO. Given the considerable shock to the entrepreneurial business environment from the Covid-19 pandemic, we will aim to incorporate these new dynamics into a number of the topics and class sessions.

Funding

Contrary - Early-stage venture fund that identifies the world's top early-career engineers, designers, and product minds, connects them with a close-knit, career-long support community, and invests in companies they start or join. We're backed by the founders of Tesla, Reddit, Facebook, Twitch, SoFi, MuleSoft, and many more iconic companies.

Learning To Fly Ventures - Student-run venture capital organization dedicated to helping novel ideas get off the ground. We are proud to fund UChicago students to pursue their creative, professional missions

Polsky Founders' Fund Fellowship - The Polsky Founders' Fund Fellowship (PF3) is a resource available to graduating University of Chicago students who are committed to growing a company after graduation. The goal of the program is to provide entrepreneurs with funding to sustain momentum on ventures.

The George Shultz Innovation Fund - A multi-million dollar fund that invests in promising startups from an ecosystem that includes the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The Innovation Fund is a venture-philanthropy fund, supported by alumni donations. (Up to $250K for Proof-of-Concept)

Rattan L. Khosa Student Entrepreneurial Fellowships - Awarded to two graduating entrepreneurs who are dedicated to building their ventures full-time. As part of the Polsky Founders' Fund Fellowship program, these fellowships provide a one-year stipend awarded quarterly, and also include one-on-one mentoring with Rattan Khosa.

Hyde Park Angels - Midwest's largest angel organization, providing a forum for entrepreneurial-minded members to invest in early-stage businesses.


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