31: Entrepreneurship Programming at University of Colorado Boulder w/ Kyle Judah

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Kyle Judah, Director of Entrepreneurship at University of Colorado Boulder (College of Engineering & Applied Science) discusses the recruitment, corporate, and fundraising benefits of launching entrepreneurship and accelerator programming at your institution.

Entrepreneurship programming. By it's the very nature is applied learning in real time. It's a very different sort of experience than what you get in most traditional classes. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketing and Helix Education, and we're here today with Kyle Judah, director of entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering Applied Science. Kyle, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. Eric. Really excited to talk with you today about the recruitments, the corporates and the fundraising benefits of launching entrepreneurship and accelerator programming at your ...

...institution. But before we dig into that, Kyle, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both the University of Colorado Boulder and your rule there? Yeah, absolutely, so see you. Boulder is the flagship campus of the SEEU system. We have three other campuses kind of across the state of Colorado and it is a fantastic and interesting case because it the place that has had traditionally all the right ingredients of fantastic business school and law school, very vibrant arts and sciences and kind of creative community on campus and, you know, one of the best engineering programs across disciplines in the country and certainly amongst kind of public research focused universities and you know, great place that also has a very supportive start up and innovation ecosystem. I just learned last week that Colorado has the most startups per capita of any state in the country and particularly an aerospace which in engineering is one of our strongest disciplines, the...

...most aerospace companies per capita than any other state in the country. So we've got kind of a great, vibrant community on campus and then this really supportive, strong ecosystem off campus that we can create those ties to. And so I just started to hear about five or six weeks ago for the better part of the last decade I've been involved in tech and start ups as an early employee, as a founder of a couple. Learned a lot of hard lessons and have some scar tissue from those experiences and following my time in the trenches, was brought onto the team at mit in two thousand and thirteen at their entrepreneurship center to run their startup accelerator program and a lot of the experiential learning programs that kind of targeted communities of students on camps that had a hard time accessing entrepreneurship classes and resources is and so was there for about two and a half years. Transitioned over time to working for a central organization. They are called them. I T innovation initiative, which essentially tried to, you know,...

...be a convening agent to make sure that the right people across the different departments and centers and institutes on campus were all in the room so that we could actually have a cohesive strategy for developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus. And how do we create the right structures for engaging whether it's corporate partners, nonprofits and other organizations outside the campus? Awesome, KYL, to start this conversation off. Can you get this a high level overview of catalyzed. You you're eight week summer start up accelerator. Yeah, absolutely so. We have a really robust set of pretty well interconnected entrepreneurship programs, both in and outside of the classroom, and building more every year. But catalyzed is really our capstone experience. It's a summer accelerator program for new ventures created by students or faculty of researchers and we've developed a very structured and mentor intensive program to help them really truly level up there their kind of startup superpowers. So you know, it is definitely not a class. It is an experience where, for the...

...first time, people can focus full time on being a founder, because that's what starting a new company takes and that kind of dedication in that commitment. And so when our founders commit to fully participating in the program, we commit to supporting them with equity free funding for their venture, with founder grants to cover their living expenses during the program and with personalized mentoring to really help fuel this progress. So this summer wild mark five years since the founding of the program on campus and to kind of celebrate that milestone where we're actually even extending the program a little bit longer to provide a better experience for the teams. It's awesome. It's awesome, Kyle. From a a student recruitment standpoint, what makes entrepreneurship programming like this so attractive to prospective students across all majors? That's such a great question. I think students in general these days are trending towards valuing impact and valuing experience instead of commodities, and I think in all walks of life that's why you see, you know, companies and platforms like...

...airbnb having such enormous growth in such a short period of time and entrepreneurship programming, by it's very nature, is applied learning in real time. It's a very different sort of experience than what you get in most traditional classes. So, you know, while there might not be a terribly big difference in the subject matter covered and in engineering classes between a see you boulder or a Georgia tack or an Mit, the experiential programs are what create this differentiated product and experience for students, and those students are increasingly savvy about demanding these kind of experiences. And it'll be the universities who really invest in that infrastructure that will survive and thrive through I think what's going to prove to be a pretty challenging decade for for Higher Ed. You know, my hope is that in the future we can recruit perspective student entrepreneurs the same way that we recruit student athletes. That's awesome. You mentioned how attractive these kind of programs are on the recruitment side. Let's talk about the career preparation side. Universities are are great at breeding academics who think like academics. Talk about the career prep benefits of...

...graduating students from se boulder who have this entrepreneurship in their blood as well? Yeah, they that's something that we're thinking about very carefully because I think particularly over the last decade, entrepreneurship has kind of gained this connotation of being an arrogant, you know, Silicon Valley Sis, White Tech Bro and realistically, you know that only applies to a very small facet of the entrepreneurial community. And add see you boulder, were really were. We very much believe in in kind of this full spectrum entrepreneurship where that entrepreneurial mindset and skill set and experiences equally applicable whether you end up being a solo freelancer or a researcher, or working in a big company or creating your own. And that applies whether it's for profit or nonprofits. So, you know, we think about how do we create opportunities where students can use these golden years on campus to try and experiment and sometimes to fail in a very safe environment, because even if...

...their ventures don't end up working out, these are the skills and the experience that are most sought after by employers these days, and particularly employers who are paying significantly higher initial salaries, particularly to engineers, you know, as opposed to some of the older, more traditional, large scale employers. From a brand standpoint, from an awareness standpoint, how do accelerator entrepreneurial programs like this help an institution make inroads with community and corporate partners? I think that's that's such an important question, particularly for public universities, and entrepreneurship just creates a greater surface area for engagement with local community and businesses, you know, whether that's through mentoring or sponsoring hackathons or competitions, it's a way for, you know, these universities to increase that cross pollenization between community and campus, because those organizations don't necessarily just want to have, you know, one table amongst...

...a hundred others at a kind of meat market career fair. They want to build authentic and meaningful relationships with students and faculty and it. It really provides an avenue for the university to also use our talent and resources and the natural creativity of our community to hopefully address and solve some pretty big issues in our local communities and continue to show value in the partnership between academia and the civic community. Really love it. And and let's go, let's go full circle or or full life cycle from a donor relation standpoint, talk about why accelerated your programs like yours make for such good talking points when fundraising. Yeah, I think there's a new breed of donor these days that really want to see their dollars create meaningful impact on campus and that's rarely the case when they're, you know, putting their name on a building. Entrepreneurship programming, I think accelerators in particular have very tangible outcomes. There's company started, jobs created, funding raised, revenue generated. You just don't get that through many of the...

...traditional donor engagement activities. So you know at mit something like seventy five percent of all major gifts come from entrepreneurial alums, which is interesting because it kind of helps give a perspective of campus programming and development office is optimizing for playing the long game and aligning incentives over time by, you know, supporting entrepreneurs as they're getting started before anybody else will, and that kind of lends to the creation of a real meaningful relationship. I also think, you know, this isn't something just restricted to the elites or the IVY's. In the last year you've seen places like Long Island University get a five million dollar donation for their entrepreneurship center. The University of Calgary received forty million for their entrepreneurship pub. So it's something that allows you to kind of take what's unique about your campus in your community and create a very emotional connection with with donors. You mentioned Catalycu has been up and running for about five years now. Any success...

...stories to date or success stories in the making from a commercialization standpoint and have come out of the program so far? Yeah, I think you know it's it's still fairly early days. To be perfectly honest with you, I think entrepreneurship in general is kind of in our DNA at see you. You know Alan Kay kind of one of the fathers of modern computings. This you alum, he know, helped invent the first networked workstation. That at Verrox has park center, which you know, we now know as the Macintosh computer. You know Ted Mayman invented the laser. Engineers Without Borders was founded with here. So it's it's in our DNA, I think. You know, when you're talking about accelerator you can't be looking for short term results, much like a public company CEO can't manage on a quarter to quarter, you know, basis where you have to be kind of having the long view. But as we've built out this set of integrated programs and resources, we're seeing a track record of teams participating in the new venture challenge, which is our campus wide...

...business plan competition as a precursor to catalyze and after our summer accelerator program then being accepted a top tier well regarded formal accelerator programs like Tech Stars, where then they've gone on to raise their seed funding. And so you know, I've seen a lot of very interesting technology and companies being developed kind of at that embryonic stage. But everything from, you know, light our applications to agriculture to, you know, technologies to help prevent leaks in oil and gas pipelines is is all on its way out of our labs and into making rail world impact. So good, so good, Kyle. What next step? Advice would you give institutions who are looking to launch their own accelerator programs? Yeah, I think it's tricky because you have a very fine line to walk. You know, it's easy to find it kind of fall into the oushiny syndrome when you see a new tool or a new kind of program working at another campus, and I think entrepreneurship in particular is very rarely a situation where if you build it, they will come. Their kind of needs to be...

...this organic demand from the student body and then administrators can play the role of creating the right support structures and allocating the funding to develop those resources. So, you know, I think administrators kind of need to be a little bit entrepreneurial in their own regard and do customer development interviews with students to see if this is something that they want we should be more responsive to meeting their needs rather than just trying to advocate for, you know, what we think is right. So I would say in general, not, not every campus needs an accelerator or a business plan contest. You know, just like start up ecosystems can't try and copy and taste with silicon values doing, other schools can't copy and paste the exact formula for what makes mit or see you bolder, so incredible and special. You kind of have to figure out what is authentic to your context and community and then double down on that. Such great stuff, Kyle. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you? They have any follow up questions? Happy, always happy to talk about this sort of stuff till on blue in the face. They can feel free to email me at it's just Kyle Dot...

Judah at Colorado Dot Edu, and I'm will promise I will be responsive kind of within twenty four or forty eight hours. But thank you so much for for having me. It's a great privilege and opportunity to chat about this stuff with with you and with your community of listeners. Likewise, thanks against so much for doing us today, Kyle. Thanks a lot, Eric. Take care. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education.

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