BUILDing Community Based Entrepreneurship

Examining a Community-Centered Approach to Entrepreneurship Education and Providing a Blueprint for Future Programs by UConn

Presented By Jennifer Mathieu, Rory McGloin, Michaela Hartl, and Alycia Chrosniak

    • Build partnerships with existing companies in the ecosystem
    • Built an insure-tech incubator to connect large insurance companies with startups
    • Internships are one part of it
    • Marketing and recruiting students 
      • Open to undergrad and grad students across all campuses and majors
      • Started ambiguously to learn about Hartford, identify problems,
      • Started with the storytelling of Hartford – glory days – historic buildings
      • Storytelling of businesses and new opportunities
  • IDEA: Social media storytelling for companies recruiting interns
  • IDEA: Market industries with related startups available for students
    • Program
      • Design a course that intersects students + community of Hartford
      • Different backgrounds means a lack of a shared vernacular
      • Iterative design
      • Let the students write their own course by telling us what they think they want to do, and we will guide you on that path
    • What’s unique about the program?
      • Enter/exit interviews gathered data and tangible insights
  • IDEA: questions for end-of-program survey
    • What did you expect to learn?
    • What did you actually learn?
    • What would have been helpful to have in the course?
  • Collaborative approach to building what the program looks like with key stakeholders, instructional team
  • Largest challenge
    • Faculty and Curriculum
    • How do we get the credits out and assess this amazing course?
    • Needs a deliverable
    • How do you grade a student’s ability to go out into the community and listen?
    • Go out in the community to listen to business owners
    • Overinflate those final projects
    • Curriculum design – need to assess – figure out where we are going
    • How do we measure some of these things?
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset Assessment
    • Before and after the course
    • Makes their growth mandatory
  • Key takeaways?
    • Interdisciplinary is key
    • Core of what we do is a foundational opportunity for education and entrepreneurship
    • We teach people the skills and mindset of an entrepreneur
    • Hope it translates into whatever their career will be
  • City takeaways?
    • Young people are invested in the city
  • Book – Startup Communities by Brad Feld
    • Great part of the curriculum
    • Describes all the stakeholders involved
    • Universities cannot be the #1 driver of an entrepreneurial ecosystem
    • It is the entrepreneurs and business builders who drive it
    • Leverage where the university sits in the ecosystem
    • Don’t try to come in and rescue
      • Not “how can I help you?
      • Come in and listen empathetically
      • Ask what do your students do after listening empathetically
  • Deliverables
    • First cohort of UConn students did not represent the community of Hartford
    • Talk early on about solutions or strategies that do NOT utilize university resources
  • How or where should other universities begin implementing this type of program?
    • Here to connect your university in to your ecosystem
    • Core elements
      • What do we teach our entrepreneurs?
        • Customer discovery to go out and ask questions
        • Be critical of what you are hearing
        • Go out and understand where best the need is and what challenges are being faced
      • Starting assessment
        • Strengths
        • Weaknesses
        • Opportunities
        • Threats
        • In the ecosystem
        • Are there other organizations that are doing work looking at the themes?
    • You will need allies and advocates from multiple perspectives
      • Our relationship with the mayor of Hartford
        • Policymakers in the state
        • Federal money like COVID-related relief
        • How can we get a piece of that $50M to support the program?
      • Can I get an officer to be dedicated to this mission?
      • Donors
    • Students reported that it would be integral to work with corporate sponsorship
      • Manufacturing and insurance ecosystem
      • How do we work with Raytheon and other huge companies?
      • Gap between large and small businesses
  • Q&A
  • Corporate partners’ engagement?
    • Mentorship?
    • Economic development
  • How do we get entrepreneurship spread to other professors?
    • That’s the core of all our problems…silos in our organizations
  • Students went to small businesses and were much more welcomed by business owners, who became teachers to pass along knowledge to students
    • Use students as ambassadors in the community
    • Students identified barber shop needs social media marketing

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