October 31, 2016, BY Matt Hughes

What class? Should We Start This Company?

Who teaches it? Professor Erin Jablonski, chemical engineering

"Have you ever thought about starting your own venture, or getting together a team and a good idea and seeing how far you can take it toward commercialization?

"This course takes a 50,000-foot view of entrepreneurship and helps students realize their own concept for a service, product or real estate venture, culminating in a business plan and the all-important pitch.

"The class is typically a mix of students from across disciplines, all of whom have something unique to offer. Much of entrepreneurship is opportunity recognition, and the mission of the engineering profession is to use what has been technologically enabled by science to benefit people and the planet. Management students bring their knowledge of marketing and design with the user in mind, and often prior experience in being on a team forming a business. Students who enroll from across the University, in majors from psychology to art history, bring unique perspectives and enrich the discussion.

"Throughout the course, students explore what makes a venture worth pursuing, and test their idea's viability through the process of business planning — including market research, financial analysis, stakeholder interaction and the many other steps necessary to take an idea to fruition.

"They receive guidance and input from myriad visiting speakers, including alumni who are just getting their own ventures off the ground and others who have been successful entrepreneurs.

"The course is offered each fall, and student groups who are pursuing a for-profit venture are encouraged to compete in BizPitch, the Bucknell Business Pitch Competition.

"One of the most important things this course aims to communicate is that failure is a very real component of the start-up world, and is allowed in the course. If a group gets into the latter half of the semester and sees no hope for their original idea to succeed, they have the freedom to pivot and change their company, or they can choose to dissolve the business and be hired onto other teams.

"The question for students to answer is not, 'can we start this company,' but 'should we?' "

See what else Bucknell offers in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and learn more about entrepreneurship at Bucknell.

Are we missing out on a cool class? Send suggestions to coolclasses@bucknell.edu. 

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