First Virtual Entrepreneur Boot Camp
By Teresa Wingfield
The first Virtual Entrepreneur Boot Camp (EBC) debuted the last weekend in April, 2020. The Boot Camp offered an introduction to startup basics and entrepreneurial thinking over the course of three intensive days. A collaboration between the McCoy College of Business and the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the EBC provided students the opportunity to learn by doing, guided by mentors who included faculty and professional entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial workshops have been offered on campus many times before, but the current circumstances required a creative twist. Knowing there was a great deal of interest across campus, the faculty organizing committee, made up of Claudia Roeschmann, David Cameron, and Daniel Roy, decided to take the EBC online. The Zoom interface was robust and the mentors were able to each advise the teams by using the breakout room feature. This feature, which helped give the student groups an opportunity to work together in their own “space,” was put to good use; the students were able to return to the main room to ask for help if needed and the mentors were able to join a group for as long or as short as needed.
Student interest was indeed high. Twice the number of students applied than were spaces. Selected participants were from colleges and schools across the campus, were representative of the student body, and included undergraduates and graduate students alike.
A virtual weekend workshop filled with learning-by-doing exercises to teach entrepreneurial skills to a cross-disciplinary student group in a hands-on environment.
The EBC started off with presentations by mentors about what an entrepreneurial mindset is and examples of the Bobcat Canvas. Created by the mentor team, the Bobcat Canvas is a streamlined version of common business development canvases. Grouped into five teams, the students worked together to propose potential new ventures by the end of the first day.
On the second day, armed with their team and their business idea, students were ready to begin creating their Bobcat Canvas. Mentors gave presentations about the different modules on the canvas and how the modules can be used to help assess the viability of a new business and its market opportunity. In between presentations, the students were given time to work with their team.
Each student team prepared a 60-second video pitch describing their proposed business on the final day. Esteemed guest panelists, Alvaro Soto, Director, Product Management, Data + AI at Procore Technologies and Hank Stringer, Alioth Executive Search Consultant and Co-Founder, provided valuable feedback on the proposed ventures and offered suggestions of how each could be developed further.
Even in the online environment, a great spirit of camaraderie emerged from the outset. Unexpected pop-up activities and prizes helped add an additional level of interaction and fun. Students remained interested and engaged; mentors felt that the virtual environment was very conducive to effective and efficient interchange.
10 happy organizers
17 excited students & new friends
5 business proposals
4 favor-delivered lunches for 4 fast answering students
23 hours of Zoom-time and 6 break-out rooms