Many people enjoy watching college sports for entertainment purposes, but, viewing another type of college competition might actually help improve your business skills.
Last month, entrepreneurs from NYU and Yale competed in a "Shark Tank" style event in New York. Three teams from each of these elite universities--all six of which that have been participating in intensive summer entrepreneurial-acceleration type boot-camps at their respective schools (each team chosen after a highly selective process)--pitched a panel of industry-veteran judges acting as potential investors, who also challenged the teams with various questions. This year's competition--the second of what is now an annual event open to the public--was won by a team from NYU (to watch a highlight video of the pitch click here); last year a startup from Yale came in first.
While the Shark Tank type event may be both entertaining and educational; the entrepreneurial endeavors of NYU and Yale are serious business. Both schools have invested considerable resources establishing Entrepreneurial Institutes--university departments that help entrepreneurs start and succeed at new ventures. The programs promote and foster entrepreneurship across their entire respective universities without regard to participants' primary disciplines of educational study (there has, for example, been a startup in the NYU institute's summer program that was founded by someone studying theology), and provide opportunities for people to test ideas and transform them with expert guidance into successful businesses. The schools also offer the space and technical resources provided by traditional, non-university incubators.
The fundamental goal of the intensive summer programs at both schools is essentially the same--to get more successful businesses started by members of their respective university communities--but there are some notable differences: Yale, for example, allows current students to participate, NYU admits students only upon their graduation and commitment to work on their startups full time.
Both schools have also established early-stage investment funds that, while independent of the aforementioned incubation programs, are often a match for incubated startups and become a source of capital.
While NYU's program is about two years old, Yale's is closer to eight. According to Yale, its Entrepreneurial institute has already produced 80 active businesses that have raised over $135 million in funding and created over 350 jobs.
Current or prospective students interested in entrepreneurship would be wise to look into these programs, and people studying at other schools may want to check whether their schools have similar offerings. And, if you wish to watch next year's NYU-Yale competition in New York, please contact the entrepreneurial institutes at either NYU or Yale for more details and ticket information:
Yale Entrepreneurial Institute
NYU Entrepreneurial Institute
Please feel free to discuss this article with me. I'm on Twitter at @JosephSteinberg.