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Professor Mark Achler and visiting innovators meet with students in Kellogg’s San Francisco Winter Quarter.

Kellogg pilots San Francisco quarter for entrepreneurship, growth and scaling

Kellogg pilots San Francisco quarter for entrepreneurship, growth and scaling

Bay Area winter quarter marks the latest evolution in the expansion of innovation offerings

By Sarah Aylward

3/23/2017 -
Course Pathways

Kellogg offers course pathways in areas such as entrepreneurship, growth and scaling, venture capital and private equity, and more in both the Full-Time MBA Program and Evening & Weekend MBA Program.

Since the summer of 2012, the Kellogg School of Management has expanded curricular and co-curricular offerings for entrepreneurship, growth and scaling, and innovation across its programs. While entrepreneurship remains popular at Kellogg—with 60 percent of students in the Full-Time MBA Program taking at least one startup-focused course—the school has continued to expand programming to meet student needs, and the needs of an ever-evolving startup and innovation community.

“We are thrilled with the expanded support for student entrepreneurs,” says Linda Darragh, the Larry Levy executive director of the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI), who joined the school in 2012. “Of the startups launched by alumni who graduated between 2011-2015, 77 percent of the companies are still growing.”

In addition to those launching startups at Kellogg, Darragh shares that there has been increased interest amongst students planning to join rapidly-scaling startups or venture capital firms as growth-focused leaders. To meet the needs of students who fit these profiles, Kellogg has expanded offerings, including pathways in both the Full-Time Program and the Evening & Weekend Program for Growth & Scaling, as well as Venture Capital & Private Equity, to compliment pathways for Entrepreneurship.

Kellogg launches programming in San Francisco

The growing popularity for enrollment in KIEI courses has occurred at the same time as an increase in the number of students recruiting into companies on the West Coast. Leveraging the Northwestern University San Francisco Campus, which opened in the spring of 2016, Kellogg began piloting an experiential learning program during the 2017 winter quarter.

“We are excited to expand programming for students planning to develop a network in the Bay Area while completing coursework,” says Darragh, who is also a clinical professor of entrepreneurship. “In fact, thirteen students participated in a pilot program this winter quarter in San Francisco, completing three courses taught by Kellogg professors.”

A major part of building a network, however, is gaining real-world work experience and contacts. “We knew we needed to offer both an experiential and networking component in the Bay Area,” says Darragh, who partnered with Professor Mike Xenakis and Bay Area alumni to identify startups and venture capital firms to hire Kellogg students into internships. Host companies for the program have included venture capital firms such as Andreessen and startups such as Allbirds, Swrve and Shift.

A 2017 MBA candidate in the One-Year MBA Program, Atif Nayeem participated in the first cohort, interning at startup Allbirds, because he admired their focus on comfort, design and sustainability. Part of the innovation team, Nayeem worked to help craft the sustainability story at Allbirds, collaborating with others to conduct a lifecycle assessment for the core product, Wool Runners. “My experience at Allbirds made me realize the importance of culture and trust within an organization. I was encouraged and applauded to take risks. Allbirds demonstrated the power of a values-based organization. I intend to find a role in a small, mission-based startup in the e-commerce space when I graduate,” says Nayeem.

Managing Director of MATH Venture Partners, Mark Achler is one of the Kellogg professors teaching in the San Francisco winter quarter and agrees that experiences like Nayeem’s are crucial for students with specific career goals. “Interning within a startup or venture capital fund as part of this program provides students with better insights of what it’s like to work within that type of environment. It also allows them to gain an understanding of which skills startups and VCs need most, then develop that broader set of skills, which is critically important during recruiting,” says Achler.

Applying an entrepreneurial mindset at Kellogg

The San Francisco winter quarter marks the latest evolution in the Kellogg entrepreneurship, growth and innovation programming and was designed in the same manner as all of KIEI’s curriculum. “In order to support entrepreneurs and growth leaders, you have to think like one and employ an entrepreneurial mindset,” says Darragh.

The entrepreneurial mindset helps leaders drive innovation with lasting value. “It’s about understanding how to identify and verify a problem, developing a hypothesized solution, testing your prototype, and using customer feedback to iterate as needed until you are able to launch a startup offering a game-changing product or service. And that is exactly what we do here at Kellogg, we use an entrepreneurial mindset to continuously evolve and iterate upon our programming to successfully support student entrepreneurs, growth leaders and corporate innovators.”

This new approach began in the summer of 2012, when the Kellogg School began pivoting its programming to more closely meet the evolving entrepreneurial environment and the needs of students. As part of a broader seven-year strategic plan led by Dean Sally Blount, the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI) was launched to foster collaboration across departments and academic centers, including the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice and the Heizer Center for Private Equity & Venture Capital, to further empower student successes.

One of four strategic initiatives at Kellogg, KIEI’s leadership, Faculty Director Ben Jones and Executive Director Linda Darragh, collaborated with faculty, staff, alumni and students to design curricular and co-curricular programming.

“We have seen enormous interest in our entrepreneurship classes since we first introduced 12 new courses and faculty members in 2012,” says Jones, citing that the enthusiasm has also expanded along with KIEI’s increase in curricular and co-curricular offerings for growth and scaling, as well as corporate innovation. Kellogg students are now privy to nearly 60 courses taught by more than 80 faculty members across all three areas, as well as social entrepreneurship, offered by a partner strategic initiative, the Kellogg Public-Private Interface. And while the curriculum is designed to match the agility of the students’ interest in charting their own path, the school also offers recommended course pathways for Entrepreneurship, Social Impact, Growth & Scaling, Venture Capital & Private Equity.

In addition to an increase in courses, Kellogg developed robust co-curricular offerings for Kellogg innovators, including two experiential fellows’ programs aimed at supporting students and recent graduates. Introduced during the 2013-14 academic year and funded by real estate developer Sam Zell, the Kellogg School Zell Fellows Program supports aspiring student entrepreneurs launching, acquiring and leading companies. Led by Professor David Schonthal ’09, the Zell Fellows Program has expanded year-over-year, with three tracks: new venture creation, acquisition and ownership, and the latest addition, healthcare. Supporting 22 students this year, the program has supported a total of 57 students since 2013. As of September of 2016, the new venture creation track startups had raised more than $25 million.

For alumni innovators, Kellogg offers the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows Program. Also, launched in 2013 and funded by Pritzker Group Venture Capital, the program provides support to student entrepreneurs during the summer following graduation, granting access to business services, workspace, as well as mentorship and network access from the Pritzker Group team. Recent graduates of the program have included Chicago startups Page Vault and FourKites.

Additionally, students are privy to a rich offering of co-curricular programming both at Kellogg and across Northwestern University. During the 2015-16 academic year, Kellogg students participated in a variety of entrepreneurship, innovation and growth-focused clubs and worked with 315 mentors. In the fall and spring quarters of the 2016-17 academic year, 19 Kellogg startups were granted residency at The Garage at Northwestern, the University’s startup incubator in Evanston. Two Kellogg startups were also accepted into external accelerator programs this past year as well, The Graide Network participated in the AT&T Aspire Accelerator and EatPak’d participated in techstars Chicago.

“At the end of each quarter, we reflect on the feedback we receive from students, alumni and corporate partners,” says Darragh. “We use that information in the same way that startups use customer feedback, to continuously drive innovation within our program offerings, and to deliver lasting value.”

Interested in learning more about the programs offered by the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative? Contact

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