Undergraduate five steps to prepare you for the entrepreneurial journey
Before entering the program, I felt that the only people with the potential to ever own their own businesses came from wealthy backgrounds with prestigious connections. This program has made me optimistic about a future I didn't know was open. - Matt England, BBA '04
The undergraduate program is composed of the following five aspects:
- The First Fidelity Integrated Business Core (IBC) – where students learn the foundations of marketing, management and legal studies in the context of starting up and shutting down a small business within a semester
- The three-course sequence involving the development of a new venture resulting in a quality business plan
- Learning in some course taught by entrepreneurs
- Experiential learning through field studies and internships
- Business Plan competitions such as Oklahoma Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition
These five aspects offer great balance in instruction and hands-on learning that gives our graduates tools with which to launch their own entrepreneurial journey. The undergraduate program is supported by a study abroad program, clubs, special events, field trips, and symposiums.
Social events and activities are an important component in developing the entrepreneurial spirit. The Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization (CEO) was formed by students majoring in Entrepreneurship. The goals of this organization are to cultivate relationships with entrepreneurial businesses to facilitate partnerships that develop the students’ professional interests.
Undergraduate Step One: IBC
The First Fidelity Integrated Business Core provided me with an opportunity to work with and depend on a team for the first time. The program taught me how to market to consumers and control operations in a real world situation that I would not have experienced in the classroom. - Heather Moore BBA '08
The First Fidelity Integrated Business Core (IBC) is the first of two companies every entrepreneurship center student will start. IBC is an ideal beginning for undergraduate entrepreneurship majors, generally students in their first semester junior year, as it is very unique and highly integrated. It was created to provide a learning environment where students are exposed to a real-world business experience. The program enables students to create and run an actual business for an entire semester. Additionally, the students organize and carry out community service while, simultaneously, IBC introduces the students to theory, concept and terminology they will use throughout their entrepreneurial journey.
The students enroll in four required business courses. These courses are Principles of Management, Principles of Marketing, Legal Studies and the First Fidelity IBC practicum - a total of 12 hours. These courses address the theories, concepts and terminology of the three core areas. All students are assigned to a learning team of 20 students who form four companies each semester. The companies identify a product (generally a licensed product based upon the OU logo), apply for a start-up loan from a Norman bank - First Fidelity, coordinate with the manufacturers for their product, then sell and distribute the product. At the end of the semester, each student company closes down their individual books and donates the net profits to a local non-profit organization.
First Fidelity Integrated Business Core students have donated over a million dollars in profits to local non-profits since the program began in 1985. Students also have donated over 48,000 hours of community service.
Undergraduate Step Two:Three-Class Sequence
I learned what it was like to get in on the ground floor of a company before they even had sales, which made me realize the type of commitment and strategic vision that is necessary for even the possibility of success. I also realize how important the management and creative team are in making that vision tangible. - Grant Hughes BBA '03
After students matriculate through the First Fidelity IBC program, they begin to work on the launch of their second business venture. Students identify an opportunity and spend the next 18 months with team members researching the idea, developing a plan, and then launch a new venture. Concepts discussed and practised include: the introduction of entrepreneurship theory, opportunity identification, development of group and leadership skills, primary and secondary research skills, the development of feasibility studies and business plans, developing compelling and persuasive arguments via presentation and pitch skill, and preparing for the Governors Cup.
However, one key ingredient has been added. Just like the real world, the students will solve problems in teams that are comprised of business students, and a variety of other undergraduate major on campus. The student teams will be the same through the entire three semesters. This is possible because the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies offers a minor in entrepreneurship for non-business majors. Our philosophy is not to create separate classes, teachers or programs in each college. Our philosophy is to bring everyone together, to learn from each other and to solve problems as a team - just like the real world. This unique minor allows non-business students access to the senior level curriculum. This makes the minor far more appealing to other majors.
The dynamic classroom environment is supplemented with close collaboration with industry. Student teams will seek input from mentors on subjects related market potential, barriers to entry, prototypes, manufacturing and selling. External feedback has inspired the students to push each other and themselves. They want to win, to launch and to succeed. The three course sequence provides the perfect real-world environment.
The three course sequence is comprised of the following courses: opportunity and venture Creation, new product development and new venture development. Entrepreneurial finance is taken at the time of the three-class sequence.
Undergraduate Step Three: Learning From Entrepreneurs
The entrepreneurship curriculum forces undergraduates to evaluate a situation, make a decision and defend it to the rest of the class - Lane Neal BBA '03
Entrepreneurs in the classroom make us unique. We have the perfect balance of theory based curriculum with practitioner experience. Anyone can come in and tell a war story, but that is not enough. Our entrepreneurs integrate their experience with a rigorous case-based curriculum. We match their experience with a course and case selection that provides the students with an ideal learning experience.
Our adjunct faculty commit to over 200 hours of preparation to teach a single class. Adjunct faculty members have attended teacher training sessions with Babson, Acton and Ivey. The most significant aspect regarding our use of the Socratic teaching method and the use of Harvard Business School cases is our use of successful entrepreneurs to deliver the curriculum.
Our case discussions are so real they'll make you sweat. During our program, we will put students in the shoes of a real entrepreneur in over 150 challenging case dilemmas. Whether they want to start a company, buy a business or work their way to the top, our acclaimed curriculum delivers the tools, skills and judgment they need to run a real business.
We are the only program in the country to offer an undergraduate course in entrepreneurial law. We also offer entrepreneurial case courses in: Entrepreneurial Process, New Venture Market Development, Financial Life-Cycle of the Entrepreneurial Venture, Launching the Entrepreneurial Venture, Growth Strategies for Small and Family Businesses, Social Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, CCEW and Field Studies.
Undergraduate Step Four: Experiential Learning
I want to put a ding in the universe - Steve Jobs
Experiential learning is extremely important in helping students prepare for their entrepreneurial journeys. Although all five steps are experienced based,three different programs stand apart. The first is CCEW. The CCEW program is described on page 14. The second experiential component is study abroad. We have created a study abroad program specifically for entrepreneurship students. We are exporting two courses and two entrepreneur teachers during the summer for a four-week program. Italy and China are the alternating locations. The first program is scheduled for summer 2009 with 20 students in Italy. The program will include corporate visits, guest speakers, six hours of course work, and a cultural and humanities overlay.
Entrepreneurial Field Studies is the third major experiential program. It is a one-semester class taken parallel to the three class sequence. It exposes students to the industry they enter and helps prepare students for the start-up world. This is a practicum course that provides students with opportunities to apply concepts mastered in previous business courses. In the context of work teams, students work as consultants with Oklahoma start-up companies and entrepreneurs to develop comprehensive business plans for new ventures. Alternately other teams assist business persons with problems related to market research, financial management, managerial issues, and other business requirements such as planning expansion or new product development. There is no charge to the company. The students receive valuable experience and the company receives motivated, intelligent, hard working students to help initiate business plan solutions. Through this course, over 650 students have helped to launch 72 new ventures located in the state of Oklahoma.
Undergraduate Step Five: Governor's Cup
The entrepreneurship program is an oasis of new ideas, techniques and classes where students are equipped with what they need, then encouraged to go out and make it happen. - Blair Humphreys BBA '05
The Governor's Cup offers students a chance to pit their ideas for new ventures against others. If the judges, prominent angels, venture capitalist and private equity investors, think you are the best, you win money and support. The process for preparing for business plan competitions is intense. Students spend long hours on their concept, their presentation and writing the business plan. The experience is unparalleled in the College of Business.
Students take their finished product from the three class sequence and enroll in the competition. Their 18 months spent identifying ideas, performing market research, doing patent searches, exploring and building prototypes, running financial analyses and break-evens all lead up to this moment - launch.
Students know they must demonstrate the feasibility of the idea, but they also must demonstrate the ability to execute. Can the group reach the milestones? Can the team distribute the product? Can the team secure partnerships? and most importantly, can the team attract smart money?
The competition forces students to answer these questions and forces them to present their answers in a compelling and professional manner. If the students impress the judges, answer the barrage of questions and communicate their vision better than anyone else, they win. They get the money, they get the recognition, and they get the nod of approval from leaders in the entrepreneurial community.
The process is long. the process is grueling. But it forces students to walk the entrepreneurial path. They understand through experience the commitment needed to succeed. The students graduate from this process tired, but they also graduate inspired, driven, and focused.