to the test
Cup brings faculty, students and alumni together for entrepreneurship
Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship Barry
Merkin, the Kellogg Cup is one of the most rewarding events
in which he participates as a teacher.
Kellogg School's formal business plan competition, held each
spring, expands student understanding of what today's new
venture process demands. Merkin says the Kellogg Cup was established
in 2005 to meet the increasing popularity of entrepreneurship
in the curriculum.
plan competitions started at Kellogg in 1992," Merkin
says. "Since then, more than 75 percent of students now
take at least one entrepreneurship course, 12 professors teach
in the area, 29 courses qualify for the major and about 50
business plans are written and presented each year."
He says this activity has greatly increased both the number
of teams eager to compete and raised the level of excellence
needed to succeed.
majority of participants are enrolled in the Entrepreneurship
and New Venture Formulation course, an offering the school
introduced in 1974. Though designed to provide special value
for those pursuing entrepreneurship, the course is open to
all second-year students. "The workload and level of
competition has increased each year, and the 2007 Kellogg
Cup will be comprised almost entirely of students who have
taken the course," he explains.
Whitaker '97, associate director of the Larry and Carol
Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice, assists Merkin
with the competition. Whitaker says the classroom work is
key for participants: "Over 10 weeks they are going through
the preparation, synthesis, presentation and organization
of their materials. The coursework leads to a level of excellence
and helps to create a foundation for entrepreneurs."
and Whitaker say the Kellogg Cup demands mastery of skills
in research, synthesis, persuasion, presentation and more.
"Success in the real world of entrepreneurship requires
the ability to be an expert communicator," Merkin says,
which is why participants must be able to make an impact and
be concise and analytical in their written and oral presentations.
who do well at the Kellogg Cup have taken their performance
and their presentation skills to a level beyond other Kellogg
students," Whitaker notes.
Ackerman '99 is one such student. He brought his Kellogg
Cup experience to fruition with Bunk1, a multifaceted company whose
primary goal is to link summer camp participants with their
parents via e-mail and photos. The company, which serves more
than 1,000 camps, grew out of Ackerman's fondness for the
outdoors, as well as his interest in technology.
recently, the class helped launch a venture created by Andrew
Youn '06. The One Acre Fund, a nonprofit aimed at reducing
starvation in Africa, began last year by helping 40 farming
families quadruple their crop yield. The goal now is to increase
the mission's scope to 250 families. One Acre has received
significant financial grants from major foundations as well
as from Kellogg alumni and students.
Kellogg Cup is also remarkable for its relationship with alumni.
Many of the competition's 25 judges are Kellogg graduates,
and "each is an entrepreneurial expert drawn from the
ranks of angels, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs,"
Merkin says. Alumni involvement is a result of their eagerness
to give back and continue their involvement in Kellogg and
education, he says. "Perhaps most important is the desire
to be in touch with tomorrow's entrepreneurs to stay current
however, the Kellogg Cup is important for several reasons. "The
American economy relies on entrepreneurship and small business,
and the chances of entrepreneurial success are significantly
increased by diligent, analytical and disciplined planning,"
he says. Because students become more adept at this process
by participation in the Kellogg Cup, it is hard to imagine a
more gratifying activity as a teacher."