GPS students and alumni come together to learn what it takes to build their own business in the third annual entrepreneurship certificate program
By Rachel Hommel | GPS News
How do you take an early stage idea into a funded business? How do you raise capital? And what makes a great entrepreneur?
“Entrepreneurs don’t play by the rules, they bend them,” said Greg Horowitt, co-founder and Managing Director of T2 Venture Creation.
Lecturing to a packed room of current and former UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) students, Horowitt brings more than 25 years of experience in start-ups and venture capital to campus.
Offered in partnership with the UC San Diego Office of Innovation and Commercialization, where Horowitt serves as director of Innovation Design, students and alumni learn not only the rhetoric and abstract concepts of entrepreneurship, but also the vision and strategy to tackle the tough questions.
“Learning needs to be both compassionate and intuitive,” said Horowitt. “Approaching entrepreneurship with a sense of empathy is absolutely critical to being a great entrepreneur. Technology doesn’t make anything happen, it’s the people behind it.”
In its third year, the program offers seven 90-minute workshops and is free to attend for GPS students and alumni.
Each week, workshops are led by experts in the field of market development, finance, leadership, social enterprise and business generation. They teach future venture capitalists how to be human capitalists – to be authentic and work well with others, from the early stages of start-ups to budding business ideas.
“Entrepreneurship is key, because regardless whether a student or alumnus is interested in starting their own organization or not, most employers are looking for employees that think like an entrepreneur. People who are nimble and innovative and who are creative problem solvers,” said David Robertson, director of Career Services at GPS.
Created for current students and alumni alike, the certificate has been rewarding to all involved. Tim Rogers ’06 has always been interested in entrepreneurship, including conducting research on China’s venture capital market while at GPS. Graduating with his master’s degree from GPS where he focused on international management and China, he stresses the importance of venture capital in his work post-graduation.
“I have been at Booz Allen Hamilton for over 5 years and I feel that entrepreneurial thinking is an important ingredient to being a successful consultant,” said Rogers.
“I am a firm believer that free markets, entrepreneurship and access to capital are the keys to long term prosperity and advancing the human condition.”
Darcy Cook ‘91, who is currently making a career pivot, currently consults for a few blue tech start-ups, providing development and technical writing support. In an effort to better understand how entrepreneurs work and their constraints, she cites the valuable lessons learned from week to week.
“For me, the class was informative, enlightening and entertaining. An opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship from a cadre of seasoned and successful professionals I would not otherwise have had access to,” said Cook.
As for current students, the certificate offers real world skills to equip them for their goals after graduation.
Katy Sperry, 2019 Master of International Affairs candidate, plans to be a social entrepreneur, and with her former background at tech companies like Amazon and Uber Eats, feels confident she will achieve this goal. While knowledgeable about how to take a small business and grow it into a successful company, a big hole in her knowledge is how to get venture capital. A common topic throughout the certificate workshops.
“The program keeps my eye on the ball in terms of my true passion, and it helps me focused on the reason why I came here in the first place,” said Sperry.
Sperry is currently in the International Development and Nonprofit Management career track and has a regional focus on China. Coming from a few years of experience in corporate world, she believes that the certificate combined with real development knowledge from GPS is the perfect combination to go out and change the world.
Derek Goeriz, 2019 Master of Advanced Studies in International Affairs candidate, sees the certificate as a way to enhance his own interest in entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital, and is currently applying for a Kauffman Fellowship in venture capital.
“The certificate course is extremely valuable because students are able to learn first-hand from successful entrepreneurs and investors who bear the scars of lessons learned the hard way. The Chinese have a proverb: True wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others!” said Goeriz.
As a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier, aka, Green Beret, he found the first workshop talking about the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs to be the most interesting and compelling, coinciding closely with the characteristics of successful special operators.
“To be a great entrepreneur, you need to be passionate, committed and a creative problem solver,” said Horowitt. “I hope the classes will empower and emotionally support the next generation of potential entrepreneurs.”
The full course listing for fall 2017 included:
Sept. 29: Business Model Generation
Oct. 6: Ideation
Oct. 13: Customer and Market Development
Oct. 20: Financing Your Startup
Oct. 27: Leadership and Building Your Team
Nov. 3: Social Enterprises
Nov. 17: Application of ‘Business Model Canvas’ Presentations