Launch Academy (BA 367) is a one-session-per-week experiential course for students who would like to launch a new venture while in college. Students come from across campus, from any college or major, and include undergraduates and graduate students. The common element is that they have an inspired idea that they want to develop. Their ideas become their class projects in Launch Academy, and we work to test and develop them into viable new venture models.
Student projects are very diverse, and the baseline business knowledge of each student varies. So the instruction covers topics generally applicable to any new venture, including customer discovery, business modeling, promotions strategies, planning, and pitching. Then students learn-by-doing.
For the first half of the course, the course flows with a repeating pattern. For each new topic: we’ll preview the subject and assignments in class; then students review learning materials and do an activity before the next; then we discuss and review the student’s work in the following class; then students review and discuss each other’s work online. I call this pattern “COCO” (for Class-Online-Class-Online).
In the second half of the term we tie it all together, culminating in a big pitch presentation in Week 8. Student present their developing concepts for review by an external panel of industry mentors and judges, who are (thankfully) recruited by the InnovationX Center in the College of Business.
Not every student has a viable business model in the end, but all will have walked through a strategic process for testing and developing their idea. Whether their class projects ultimately lead to successful ventures, or not, all students will develop skills that are widely applicable in entrepreneurship and the wider world of business.