Case studySuny purchase
Ethos identified a gap in the school’s curricular offering to provide a platform for venture creation for the talented and diverse undergraduate population. After turning to the economics department to explore internal resources for developing an entrepreneurship course, the school decided to enlist the help of Ethos to identify and recruit an entrepreneurial practitioner to create a hands-on learning opportunity for the students.
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> Key Phases
SUNY Purchase is a public liberal arts college in Purchase, NY, one of 13 comprehensive colleges in the State University of New York system. Together with a longtime donor, the President and Dean of the college identified a gap in the school’s curricular offering to provide a platform for venture creation for the talented and diverse undergraduate population.
After turning to the economics department to explore internal resources for developing an entrepreneurship course, the school decided to enlist the help of Ethos to identify and recruit an entrepreneurial practitioner to create a hands-on learning opportunity for the students.
Ethos divided the project into two key phases.
Phase 1: Curriculum Development
To ensure a focus on real-world, practical, hands-on skills development, Ethos built the curriculum with an Entrepreneur-in- Residence that was able to leverage deep and varied startup expertise as well as direct experience with multiple accelerator programs to touch on every facet of early-stage business development.
Assuring that the course content matched the needs of the students, Ethos turned to its network of 30 college and university student fellows to conduct a qualitative analysis of the business and entrepreneurship offerings at those schools and the observed gaps therein.
Phase 2: Course Delivery and Iteration
The course focused heavily on reverse classroom style instruction, allowing the students to learn startup concepts through immediate direct application. Each class was coupled with interactive workshops and subject matter expert (SME) guest speakers on topics ranging from pitch delivery to fundraising best practices, establishing a sales pipeline, marketing channel development, and more.
Each class session included mandatory student surveys to appropriately evaluate the effectiveness of the class, allowing for week-by-week adjustments in the curriculum based on the student’s needs. The course culminated in a Shark Tank-style business plan competition (video testimonial below) where a select group of students pitched their ideas with a chance to win $2,000-$5,000 worth of initial startup capital with support from a college donor.
Ethos organized, marketed, and facilitated the entire event featuring judges like David Liu of TheKnot.com, Danny Mastronardo of Nardos Natural (ABC’s Shark Tank Winner) and other prominent college donors.
Ethos then supported the university in identifying and training faculty to facilitate the course. Ethos additionally aims to facilitate and report findings from the pre- and post-assessments created for the course once facilitated. The findings gathered from these assessments will be used to identify how closely the course supports the greater university’s initiatives and increases the footprint of those initiatives. Long-term, Ethos looks forward to increasing opportunities to support the institution’s students and subsequently the greater Colorado community.
The oversubscribed course was met with wide popularity from the student body across many majors (from dance to economics), and the final event was attended by more than 150 members of the student body, faculty, and school administration and covered extensively by the local press.
The winners of the business plan competition went on to take an independent study course the following semester to continue working on their businesses in a one-on-one mentorship capacity from the instructor.
The success of this program created a need for a level II entrepreneurship course for the University developed by Ethos that was offered in the Spring of 2019 following a startup accelerator format to help students interested in executing on existing business concepts.
9/10 students rated this course as excellent
86.4% of students took value from the course
96% felt the course contributed to their skills growth
“This was an excellent class – best class experience I’ve had so far at Purchase. I recommend that this class runs year round.”
“I enjoyed the class. It was definitely challenging to get out of my comfort zone, but great practice for the future.”
I think the classes on giving presentations can be valuable to students in any major.
“I didn’t think I wanted to be an entrepreneur before taking this class, but now it’s something I’ll seriously consider after college.”
“I learned a lot in this class. Please let me know if Purchase and Ethos offer a level II class next year!”
“Our Purchase students are so full of creativity and great ideas, and we’re thrilled to work with Ethos and help students bring their business ideas to fruition.”