FAQ for Prospective Students

Frequently Asked Questions - The Duke MBA - Program for Entrepreneurs

1a) I'd like to know more about the Program for Entrepreneurs

Basically it's a way to get course credit while you work on starting a company.  We recruit students and projects in the Spring, match them in the Summer, and select the best ones in the Fall.  

1b) I'd like to apply, but not sure which form I need to fill out.  Can you tell me which form to fill out?

Step 1: The Basics
-If you want to participate in the program, fill out this application. This will be viewed by the advisory group.
-If you have an idea, submit it here by June 30th.  This will be viewed by all students.

Step 2: Make yourself easy to find

-If you want to be in a directory for being matched with teammates, fill this out.
-For Undergraduates - if you want to be in a directory to be matched with Lead MBA Students, fill this out. 

Step 3: Find some teammates
Note: you'll need at least 2 teammates before enrolling in the course (one person on the team must be a Duke MBA student).  The maximum number of teammates depends on what the team is doing, and is around 6-8 people.

-If you want to start finding MBA teammates, look here.
-If you want to start finding Undergraduate teammates, look here and here

Step 4: Find an Idea

-If you are looking for an idea, you can see the list of ideas here:
In a spreadsheet (easier to sort): See all of the ideas in a spreadsheet (these are last years ideas, we'll be updating them until around May 3rd)
In a report (easier to read): Coming soon
  • Consumer Marketing (includes consumer products and services) - Coming soon
  • Energy and the Environment (includes cleantech and sustainability) - Coming soon
  • Financial Services - Coming soon
  • Healthcare (includes biotech and med device) Coming soon
  • Information Technology / Media / Entertainment (includes websites, hardware, multimedia) - Coming soon
  • Social Ventures (includes double bottom-line) - Coming soon
- By May 20th, identify the ideas which you would like to learn more about and fill out this form.

Attending the Kickoff Event
-Any Duke student can attend the kickoff event.  The purpose of the event is to have the teams present themselves to attract teammates and receive feedback from the advisory group.
-Let us know you're attending by fill this out. Think of this as an "RSVP" form for attending the event.

2) Do we need to have a definite idea for a startup when we apply for this program or will we work on ideas provided to us?

You can have an idea of your own, and we will provide some ideas to you (last year we provided about 70 ideas).  Several of the students currently in the Program are working on ideas they brought in.
3a) I understand that this course will include course credits. Can you please explain the grading system.

Grades will be assigned based on the quality of the work, in particular we focus on a concrete analysis of the ideas.  That being said, we tend to discourage students that are worried about grades for this program.
3b) How will this impact the regular curriculum. Is this part of the curriculum? Will the students be able to waive off some other courses in the first and second year in order to take up this course or will this have to be done in addition to the regular course load?

This is in addition to the regular curriculum, and we prefer students pass out of some of the core courses in order to spend additional time on the Program. Some students take these classes in addition to the core.

It should be noted that the Program for Entrepreneurs is a fairly sizeable commitment of your course credits (can be up to 1/3rd of your total credits at Duke).  So we are looking for students that are willing to make that commitment.
4) I intend to take a loan to fund my education at Fuqua. This means that I will be graduating with a large debt. How will this impact my plan to start a business? If I intend to start a company, then my ability to repay my loan will be affected. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

This is a very personal question and the answer varies depending on your exact situation and risk tolerance.  In general, yes, it is difficult to start a business with a large student debt.  That being said, the startups that we have seen in the past have managed to receive funding or at least a positive sense that they will be funded, before graduation.   
5) If I do take up this course, will this affect the regular job search, on and off campus. What I mean, is that at some point if I decide to go ahead and work for a company rather than involve myself with a startup immediately upon graduation, will I be impacted.

If accepted, you are welcome to leave the program at will. Yes it affects the job search in that it takes up much of your spare time. We have had some students successfully do the job search and work in the Program for Entrepreneurs, but it is a lot of work to do both well.

On the flip side, being the Program provides talking points and experience that can be of value for the job search.
6) What is the selection process?

Given that this is a young program, we only have capacity to work with a limited number of projects.  In year 1, we worked with 8 projects in the Fall, and in year 2 we worked with 13 projects in the Fall.
In addition, we focus on selecting ideas that will make an impact on improving the world.

The advisory group for the Program for Entrepreneurs will take into account:
  • the written applications
  • Blue Devil Weekend interactions and Skype call interactions
  • the presentation at the Kickoff Event
  • ability to attract quality teammates who believe in the project and have complementary skills
After the kickoff event, teams will be admitted on a rolling basis until the start of the Fall 2 academic term (in mid-October)

7) Is this a program where I would know I was accepted into before I made a final decision on attending Duke vs a peer school? 

No, we will be having students work on their projects from July through October, finding an idea, developing the idea, recruiting teammates, and finding a mentor, among other things.  We will have the projects present in July and maybe a checkpoint or two between then and fall break. And over that time period, we will select the top 8 projects to advance and enroll in the first formal course during Fall Term 2 (which starts after fall break).

8) Will Duke be accepting students from just Fuqua? Or people over-all?

When making our decision we look at the whole team, and the lead student(s). The requirement is that there be at least one Duke MBA student on the team.

Some of the team members choose to take the courses for credit, and some choose to work on the project on a volunteer-basis (for no credit).

9) The idea of having the opportunity to formulate, build, and lead a business with mentors in place to provide guidance is very appealing. If a small group of projects are chosen, does Duke have a target on the final number of businesses it aims to assist founding by the end of the two year term? Are you hoping for 20-30% of the projects to lead to businesses?

We don't have a target number, per se, but I guess my own expectation is in the 1-3 range for every 10 projects that join.  If VCs think that around 3 in 10 of their bets pay off (somewhat), my thought is it's reasonable to track to that.

10) I would also be interested in what companies are involved in the initial stage of idea generation.  

In the past couple years we have had
-NC IDEA (www.ncidea.org), a non-profit that gives grants to startups
-Southeast TechInventures (www.setechinv.com), an accelerator that helps university spinoffs create companies and raise SBIR money, 
-the NC Biotechnology Center (www.ncbiotech.org), a non-profit that gives loans to biotech startups
-Duke's Office of Licensing and Ventures, tech transfer office that manages/owns Duke's intellectual property
-Duke alumni have contributed via DukeGEN http://www.dukegen.com

...along with ideas from the Nicholas Institute at Duke and other ideas.

10b) Will you be focusing on mostly medical, and high-tech businesses?

We don't have a specific requirement that they be medical or high-tech businesses, but we do target business that are looking to make a large positive impact on the world.
In addition, we do tend to focus on medical or high-tech businesses (and enjoy clean tech as well), mostly because that's where our own expertise lies and that's where we find we can be most helpful. That being said, we don't have a "rule" that we only work with those kinds of projects.

The starting ideas in 2008 were:
-iPhone application for SAT prep/GMAT prep
-creating spider silk from genetically modified silk worms for potential kevlar competitor
-creation of a better web-based disease management platform to increase patient compliance
-a technology that layers chemicals into fabric to make those fabrics more hydrophobic, fire-resistant or other properties
-Water sensors that are implanted into ground to help landscapers save money and water
-children's fitness education multimedia that combines fitness and learning together
-methane capture systems that capture gas from hog farms and can be used for energy

About 4 students ended up going with their own idea, and 4 ended up matching with a technology.

Of these starting ideas in 2008, we finished the program in Fall/Winter 2009 with this set of projects:
- EntoGenetics - Creating spider silk from genetically modified silk worms
- Fitness Education (FitEd) – Wii games that for autistic children
- PTP (Wind Energy) - Building wind farms in international locations (this team originally worked on the "technology that layers chemicals" project, but changed mid-program)

The starting ideas in 2009 were:
- Biogenic - Cell Seeding Technology for Implantable Cardiovascular Devices
- Innovation Education International – Applying Stanford innovation curriculum for developing cities
- Medici MedTech, Medical device to treat urinary incontinence 
- Methane Capture Project Aggregating business for carbon offsets generated from hog farms. 
- Battery Swap for Electric Rickshaws in India - Like Blue Rhino 
- General Nano Spinning carbon nanotubes (lighter and stronger than steel) into electrically conductive thread for use in multiple industries.
- eCIRK - Immunization Records Depot - Create a central repository for all immunization records 
- OurEarth.org - Internet portal for environmental programs, activities, and general information 
- Eye Innovations  - Medical device to assist individuals with Glaucoma 
- 25th Hour Media - Turning online news and blog postings into audio content available on mobile devices
- iCampus - E-learning network and platform
- Liliang.com – online platform for outsourcing work
- Greenhouse Foods – website and brand for helping people with special dietary needs

11) How many students from departments outside of Fuqua will be involved with each project?

We highly encourage the lead student(s) to recruit teammates, both within and outside of Fuqua. Currently, our teams consist of PhD students, Master's students, undergraduates and others.  We actually require that at least 2 teammates are recruited before a student can enroll in the first course in the sequence.  You can have more than 2 teammates. 

To help facilitate this process, we are building a database of interested students.  We also help post "job postings" on various websites like dukelist.duke.edu and www.startupmatchmaker.blogspot.com

12) How does licensing work with the inventor?  Will the inventor just walk away with the business plan?

So generally we have not had a problem with this.  On the front-end we try to weed out inventors that would just walk away - we want inventors that recognize the value being created by the student.  In addition, once the student has been engaged for so long, they often have carved out a role and have a complementary skillset to the inventor.  Therefore, while not guaranteed, our experience is that finding terms that work between inventor and student is possible.    

Recent startups with Duke MBA students that have successfully negotiated this include:
Precision Biosciences
Grassroots Biotechnology

13) With regards to financial aid, does the Center for Entrepreneurship offer its own scholorships aside from the general Fuqua pool?

There is some money for the summer in between first and second year.

Class of 1990 Scholarship. The Duke MBA Daytime Class of 1990 established an endowment to provideassistance to current first-year students who choose a summer internship with a nonprofit, public, or small to medium size company. The annual amount available for this scholarship depends on endowment earnings. Themaximum scholarship awarded to a single recipient is $5,000, or up to $500 per week for up to ten weeks. Anaward committee of relevant Fuqua staff members reviews applications and selects the scholarship winners, withpriority going to students with internships with (1) nonprofit organizations, (2) public agencies, and (3) small to medium size companies, in that order of preference. Should the award committee decide to name more than one student to receive this scholarship, the committee will determine the amount awarded per student. The scholarship is given in the form of a tuition credit and will be disbursed for the fall semester 2008 as a credit tothe student's account in the University Bursar's Office.

The award committees reserve the right to share information and confer upon the value of awards. Students may be awarded support from the Class of 1990 Scholarship, up to a total of $5,000 per recipient per summer. Total summer compensation from all sources, including the employer-provided stipend, may not exceed $10,000. All applicants will be notified when the selection decisions are made. Class of 1990 Scholarship decisions will be made around May.  Applications are due in April before the summer in between first and second years.

14) How is it turning out for them? Do they continue to work in their own projects today?  

- As of February 2009, Five of the original eight continue to work on their projects.  And they have grown their teams so there are probably 10 students actively working on projects now. They are doing well and report that they have learned quite a bit.
In addition, this year we had 35 business plans in the Duke Start-Up Challenge (up from 19 business plans last year). 

15) Have they been able to make successful start-ups? 

- As of February 2009, this remains to be seen we are hopeful, but unless there is a significant milestone, like raising funds or getting first customers, it's hard to tell.

In terms of other startups that have come out of Fuqua (but not necessarily this program) here is a partial list:
Affinergy - Biological Glue
http://www.affinergy.com - Jonathan Gindes, Fuqua Daytime 2003, went through New Ventures Clinic, jgindes@affinergy.com

Afrobridge - Sourcing company connecting Africa and China
http://www.afrobridge.com/ - Kayode Jegede, Fuqua Daytime 2008, kayode.jegede@fuqua.duke.edu

Atlas RFID - RFID solutions made simple
http://www.atlasrfid.com - Robert Fuqua and Vincent Hsieh, Cross Continent MBA 2007, vhsieh@atlasrfid.com

Centice - Spectroscopy for automating pharmacies
http://www.centice.com - Todd Creech, Fuqua Daytime 2003, went through New Ventures Clinic, TCREECH@siriontherapeutics.com

Cerene Biomedics - Implantable cooling device to prevent seizures
http://cerenebiomedics.com/ - Carolyn Nohejl, Fuqua Daytime 2009, Vivek Sasikumar, Fuqua Daytime 2008, and team, won the Duke Start-Up Challenge in Spring 2008

Eno Sports - clothing brand in China
www.eno.cn - Renee Hartmann, Fuqua Daytime 2005, renee@eno.cn, Co-president of the EVCC

Grassroots Biotechnology - agricultural biotechnology
www.grassrootsbio.com - Doug Eisner, Fuqua Daytime 2007, dae2@duke.edu

Precision Biosciences - technology to edit genes
http://www.precisionbiosciences.com - Matt Kane and Chris Rhodes, Fuqua Daytime 2006, matt.kane@precisionbiosciences.com

Reverbnation - web tools for musicians
http://www.reverbnation.com - Jed Carlson, Fuqua Daytime 2005, jcarlson@reverbnation.com

Want more? Checkout more startups from Duke at http://www.dukegen.com/dukestartups 

16) What new skills have they developed from the concentration that has allowed them to create a sustainable business? 

-I guess this depends a lot on the student themselves, but perhaps some of the most important lessons are along the lines of not being enamored with a shiny technology that doesn't solve a problem. There are many though, and I'm guessing each would give a different answer.

17) How can I get in touch with them to learn about their experiences?

Here are some of them from 2009
-Joe Knight, joe.knight@fuqua.duke.edu - Medici Medical
-Andrew Simon, andrew.simon@fuqua.duke.edu - General Nano
-Garrett Muramoto, garrett.muramoto@fuqua.duke.edu - Biogenic
-Roberto Alfaro, roberto.alfaro@fuqua.duke.edu - Eye Innovations
-Nick Sehn, nick.sehn@fuqua.duke.edu - 25th Hour Media

Here's a few of them from 2008
-Adam Mangone, adam.mangone@duke.edu - PTP Energy
-Mark Smallwood, mark.smallwood@duke.edu - EntoGenetics
-Rasheed Wiggins, rasheed.wiggins@fuqua.duke.edu - FitEd

18)  Is this a completely new offering at Fuqua? 

It's not completely new, it has been around for one year (started in Summer of 2008), and also is based in part on a program we've run for several years (both under names of New Ventures Clinic and Duke Ventures Project).


19) I will take a loan for MBA tuition. I'm not sure if the loan payment pressure after graduation would conflict with my entrepreneur plan. (That's one of the reasons I'd like to talk to some students who had been through the experience)

Yes, this is a challenge.  Obviously there are no guarantees.  Ideally the student will have some indication that the idea has progressed far enough that they might be able to receive some financing. 

20) I'm thinking about the impact of the program in my whole MBA study. For example, I suppose that a big amount of personal time and energy is needed in this program(that's for sure if I'm seriously starting a company:)), so would this affect my course study or other things I need to do in b school? I know there must be a balance, but am not sure how would it be like.

Yes, this is a big consideration.  You definitely commit a lot of time to the Program when you are in, so you will likely have to give up taking certain classes.  That being said, our students are able to participate in other things, one in particular is the president of the entrepreneurship club for next year and has successfully interviewed for a consulting firm for the summer.

So there are tradeoffs and you are still able to do other things.

21) If admitted into this program, can I partner with other people (out of Duke Fuqua) to start a company?(I guess I can, just to make sure)

Definitely.  We also suggest you look at people inside of Duke (both inside and outside of Fuqua) as well.  Our students work with PhD students, Master's students, and undergraduates.

22) What is the criteria of selecting program's participants?

Among other things - 1) Desire to start a company upon graduation.  2) Willingness to focus on the startup in lieu of some other opportunities at Fuqua. 3) And the person's personality and abilities.

With respect to the projects we will let in - 1) The strength of the project, 2) Our ability to help this project, 3) Ability to attract teammates, 4) Ability to find a mentor to guide them

23) How many course credits will I receive upon program's completion?

Depending on if you stay with the program throughout, approximately 15 credits.  

First Year
Opportunity Evaluation, Fall Term 2, a 3-credit course
Business Plan: Strategy, Spring Term 1 & 2, a 6-credit course

Second Year
Business Plan: Operating Plan, Fall Term 1 & 2, a 6-credit course

If you leave the program early, than you'll receive fewer credits. We are ok with students leaving the program, and do not expect students to complete the program just for the sake of completing it. Rather, the students that will complete the program will likely have a startup company that they are hoping to launch upon graduation.

24) In the application, how specific should the description on the "interested startup" be?

Probably both the specific and the general would be of value.  This will help us know you, but it will also help potential team members know if you'd be a good fit as well.

25) I can not attend Blue Devil weekend, attending the Entrepreneurship Workshop. Will this reduce my opportunity of being admitted?

No, we're planning to make the process the same for those that can attend or not attend BDW.  A lot of the evaluation will happen during the Kickoff event, so it's important to be there.  Ultimately, the strength of your project between July and October will be a big determinant.

26) Will the program committees recruit only Fuqua students to be project leaders and let those leaders recruit their teammate independently? Or the projects' participants will be selected from the pool of candidates that were classified by the program committees?

We accept whole teams into the program from July - October.  Those teams need to have a lead student or lead student(s) who are committed to taking the project forward.   They can recruit from the entire Duke student population.

27) In the midst of current economic crisis, do you receive less cooperation from the venture capitals and participant companies?

It's a complex question and not clearly in one direction or the other. We expect the cooperation will be good.

28) What are the reasons that students leave the program?

Various reasons that mostly revolve around changing priorities or a stop to their projects. 
Sometimes we get to the end of a course, and we all realize that the market isn't there for the opportunity.  Sometimes someone decides they need to spend more time on the job search.  Sometimes people find other projects they are interested in.

29) Will there be any wait-listed candidates?

The admissions roll from July through October.  Once the program starts in October, those teams are in.

In 2009, we did have one team that worked independently with a faculty member from October through December, and we have admitted them into the program in January 2010. 

30) What is the process for playing a supporting role?

The process for playing a supporting role is as follows.
-Several (between 8-13) projects will join the program. Those projects are led by lead student(s).
-They will be tasked with finding teammates, whether within Fuqua, or at other schools at Duke
-To help facilitate the process, we ask for students interested in playing a supporting role to fill out the application, to consolidate the information.
-The lead students, using their own process, will meet with and select potential teammates.
-Selections can happen at any time throughout their time here, based on what skills they need at the time.

31) For Blue Devil Weekend, what is the P4E session on Saturday for?

We want to get to know folks that are interested in the Program.  This is a way to meet you and answer questions.

33) How many students do you expect to apply?

We had around 54 applications as of in Spring 2009, and about 20 teams ended up presenting at the Kickoff Event.

It's reasonable to think we'll have a similar number in 2010.

34) Are you going to be on campus on Saturday of Blue Devil Weekend?

Yes, we have events all day on Saturday of Blue Devil Weekend.  In particular, I will be at two career panels on entrepreneurhip in the morning, and Overview of the Program for Entrepreneurs  for our Center in the afternoon.  Also, you may want to stop by the activities fair on Friday night.

35) I have been admitted to a concurrent degree program at Duke through the Fuqua and the Nicholas School, and have therefore been offered admission to Fuqua for next fall, instead of this fall.  If I went ahead with my application to your program, should I apply now, or one year from now instead?

We probably won't make any final decisions on your acceptance into the program until next year, and you would likely not be taking part in the program until next year.  

That being said, it'd be helpful to us to know of your intent and a little bit about you - so if you did want to fill out the application and just note that you are officially applying next year, that'd be good for us to know you and keep you in mind as a possible student for next year.  Also, it does give the opportunity for you to match with a student's project this year, in case there's a similar interest we uncover.

36) I am aware that The Duke MBA offers optional Concentrations, one of them being 'Entrepreneurship and Innovation'. Is the above-mentioned program an integral part of the Concentration for 'Entrepreneurship and Innovation' or it is in addition (and seperate from) to the Concentration?

The Concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is separate from the Program for Entrepreneurs.  You can be a part of one and not the other.  The Concentration pulls from all of the courses that are taught in entrepreneurship and innovation at Fuqua, while the Program for Entrepreneurs is a set sequence of courses that takes students through the process of starting a company.

37) I am very committed and motivated to materialize my entrepreneurship but not immediately after the MBA program. I am a medical professional and plan to to work with health care or related organizations immediately after the MBA, before launching my own business (though I would be continually working on it).
In this context is this program suitable for me?

There are two sets of students we are looking for: 1) "lead" students to lead projects, and 2) other students to play a "supporting role". Our expectation of the eight lead students is that they are very motivated a to start a company upon graduation.  This is part of our criteria for them.

With respect to the supporting role students, the criteria is quite different.  Instead, it is up to the lead students to find teammates that complement their own skillsets and who will be valuable teammates for the startup.  

Based on your description, I would anticipate that you would be a better supporting role student, as opposed to a lead student.

38) Do non-core participates (so other than the lead students) receive any course credit for their work?

Yes - they do receive credit, as long as their on your team when you register for the course (end of fall break).
But we have also had situations where they have decided not to take the course for credit (if they are too busy to commit), so that is something that can be done.

39)  Can a teammate be a non-student (e.g. working professionals with specific domain expertise critical to the business)?

Yes, in general, we are fine with having teammates be non-students. In fact, many of the technology inventors we've seen this first year have essentially been teammates. I guess we reserve the right to have some input, to make sure the non-student teammates are involved in the spirit of the Program.

40) Will everyone involved in the first term (before selection happens) then be given class "credits," or will this be considered more of an extra curricular activity until final selections are made?

No course credit until you join the first course in the Program which is in Fall Term 2 (after our Fall Break selection process happens).  So, it is an extra-curricular activity until then.  That being said, if you have the ability to place out of a class in Term 1 to free up more time, we encourage that.  Also, if you can spend time in July on your project - that will help a lot.  August and September are usually quite busy.

41) Is there a preference for bringing my own idea versus matching with an idea?

Our preference is for really good business ideas, whether they are your own or not.  As of April, 2009, 50% of our current teams are their own idea, and 50% are ideas they matched with.
In the Fall of 2010, 8 of the 13 teams were their own idea.

42) What size does our team need to be?  Is there a max?

By the time you enroll in October, we're looking for teams of 2-3 students.  

We have not yet run into a maximum team size issue.  Our current largest team is 4 students receiving course credit. 

The earlier you recruit the students the better, as it will increase your chances of making it in the program before October.

43) In selecting the projects, is there a bias against people that have not brought their own idea (a preference for those who have their own idea)?

No. We want to have a belief that you can execute on the idea you are matched with.

I would say roughly the selection criteria is

a) A really good business idea, that can be a strong protectable business.
b) A motivated and intelligent student leader who wants to start a company by graduation
c) The business idea is something we think we can help with
d) The student leader and team are people we think we can help and would like to work with

44) Is there a preference for specific regions?  I'm interested in starting my business in my region of the world.

We want to believe that we, as an advisory group, can help the business.  So, if the business is specific to another region where we have no expertise, we're not sure how helpful we can be.  However, if that same business could also do well in regions where we do have knowledge, then we'd be more open to it.  For example, if a business could be opened in Lima (Peru), NYC and Durham, then it's something where we might have reasonable expertise in helping.  If only Lima (Peru), then it's unclear that's something we have the expertise to help (at this point - though we are getting better).

45) Is this more academic or more real business?

More real business.  Once we realize the business is not viable, the business will not advance in our program

46) We'd like to get connected with classmates interested in starting a company.  How?

We're going to ask everyone to fill out an online form about their background and interests that will be shared with others that do the same.

47) Is there a bias towards companies in the high-tech or biotech industry?

Our areas of interest are in four buckets
1) IT/Media
2) Healthcare (including Biotech)
3) Energy and the Environment (like cleantech)
4) Social Ventures (that have double bottom lines, measure their impact on the world in addition to their profitability)

So, we don't have a particular bias towards high-tech or biotech.  We had a social venture and a cleantech venture in this first year.

Ultimately, we want good business ideas.  The better the improvement, the more competitive in the marketplace, the better the business model, then we like those things.

48) Are students doing something different from their background?

It turns out of our 4 current teams (12 students total) almost all are working on a project that is different from their background.  Of the 4 lead students, 3 are working on something different than their background.

49) How do you make the selections?  By students or a panel?

By a panel made up of the advisory committee (includes Jon Fjeld, Howie Rhee, and several more people)

Selections are made on a rolling basis between July and October.

50) What if two people want to work on the same idea?

We'll cross that bridge when we get there, but ideally it works out so that either the students choose between themselves, or the inventor chooses which student they would prefer to work with. 

51) Do team members have to be complementary?

We don't force team members upon each other.  If you decide to have 4 software engineers on your team, that's your choice.  That being said, when we select projects, it's likely that we will favor more balanced teams.

52) What stage of development will the technologies be at, and how do we time the technology development with our business development?  Say there are still a few years for the technology to be developed?

It depends on when investors will be willing to put in money and/or the product can be brought to market.  With biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, for example, the technology development is long, and yet investors will put in money relatively early. With websites, it's more likely that a prototype needs to be done and the concept "proved", like how Google proved to Yahoo that they would improve their search algorithm, and then had a check written by an early angel investor.

53) Can we use labs at Duke to further our technology?

Possibly.  I think there are some tricky issues with Duke owning the technology if it is developed at Duke.  It's possible that labs outside of Duke may provide a safer intellectual property pathway.

54) Did you have to complete the case study to be eligible to be a lead student?

No.  Originally, when we planned to select students in July, the case study was meant to be one of our main filters.  Now that we are selecting students in between July and October, the case study is a secondary filter.  

55) How do we get everyone together July 1-20?

Mainly through conference calls with the inventors. Though as people show up, we can put together some events (and possibly some student-initiated events)

56) Where are inventors coming from?

Right now it looks like Duke, UNC, NC State, the Biotechnology Center, NC IDEA, STI, and then all of the student created ideas.  Likely, more sources will come in.

57) What if two ideas are complementary, will you make the teams join up?

No.  Our goal is to create companies that succeed, and part of that is students owning and taking the initiative on the company.  So in general, we won't force the team to be "made up" a certain way, including two complementary ideas joining.  If those two teams want to join, that is their choice.

58) Can we get undergraduates to join?

Yes. Definitely if they are not seeking credit.  If they are seeking credit, we are currently working on making that relatively easy for them to do.  The deals are still pending, but there is likely going to be something in place.

60) How best to prepare for P4E?

a) Learn how to pickup the phone and call prospective customers.  This is often a challenge for students.  Learn how to do a bottoms-up total addressable market analysis.

b) Do whatever work you can to get ready to form teams.  

c) Figure out if you are really passionate about starting a company.  MBA's are a lot of work, and if you are not passionate, you may not enjoy spending a lot of your time on a startup.

61) Is there time to have beer?

Yes, absolutely. The MBA can be a lot of fun.

62) What if I have an idea, but I don't have the background to do it?  Can I still be selected?

I think we look at the total package.  If you don't have the background, but we feel comfortable you can learn and succeed at the business, then those may cancel out.  If you have a background in the business idea, it's possible we may look on that favorably. 

63) How to get people together for team networking? Is there time to meet others?

We're putting together a Google Group (thanks Joe) and will create a directory by having you all fill out an online form: 

64) Can I bring a startup that's already launched?

It depends.  If they've already solved the business side of the puzzle and raised a lot of money, then probably not.  If it's just technology folks that have a strong need on the business side, then possibly (this probably describes many of the ideas / technologies that we receive).

65) What's the relationship between the students and the inventor?

It depends.  It's important for us that the inventor be willing to work with the student, and appropriately appreciating the contribution.  If we sense the inventor has a problem with this, then we will be less likely to accept that project into the program.  We want inventors that realize they need business help, and are willing to continue working with the students assuming things go well. Of course, nothing is guaranteed. 

66) What are the visa issues for international students starting a company in the US?

We have looked into this, but haven't fully resolved it.  We've considered investigating whether students can self-sponsor through H1B, but haven't received a definitive answer.

67) Are any of the current projects looking to develop in markets outside the US?

Not exactly. They are in their first year of the program, so they haven't gotten to the launch/operational plan yet. That being said, a lot of them could easily be competitive in markets outside the US given the right planning and infrastructure.  So, I expect that will be a part of the second year of the program.

68) Who invests in the startups?  Which VCs and Angels?

So getting investment is often tricky and so we don't have VCs or angels who would automatically say yes.  That being said, Duke has at least a hundred or so alumni in venture capital and was recently tied for 5th place by the NVCA for school with most ties in VC. And there are a fair number of wealthy Duke alumni who would be interested in considering an investment in a Duke-related startup.  To facilitate some of this interest, we have been reaching out to VCs and angels to make this an easier process for students (and investors).  

69) How can I add my idea?

Students are welcome to submit their ideas here.  The benefit is that it will help you attract teammates.

70) If I'm in the program and receive angel funding well before graduation, can I leave the program?

We're aware of this challenge and designed the program to let you do this.  We're working with the administration to clear the path for a "leave of absence" or "completing your MBA in a part-time basis" or something similar.

In the opposite situation, if you need to stay at Fuqua for 3-6 months, we are working on designing it so that you can have a temporary base from which to operate your business (assuming we still think your business is viable).

71) What is DukeGEN?

This is a way for you to connect to Duke's alumni network.  It stands for the Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network.  It has about 1600 members (as of Feb 2010).  You can join at www.dukegen.com

72) Can I get current business plans?

Yes, we are sponsored in part by Palo Alto Software, makers of Business Plan Pro. This software has dozens of business plans.  If you think you might apply for the Duke Start-Up Challenge, you are eligible to get a free copy of the software. Ask Howie for the code.

73) Can we bring our own idea, where we are the inventor?

We haven't faced this, but I guess yes this is possible.  I think we would look carefully at your team and possible expect you to have an additional person on your team, based on the assumption that you may still be spending effort proving the technical feasibility and won't have enough time to do the business analysis with a small team.

74) Who's on your team and how are they selected?

It's the team leader who recruits and selects the supporting roles. We don't prescribe who should be on which team.

75) Do we have to organize the team before 25th (based on my reading I understand the answer is no, but just want to clarify)? 

No, but probably getting to know some other folks a little could help.  Of course, hard to really know a person until you meet them in person, so I expect most matches will be in-person.

76) The kickoff agenda states that we have to make a presentation (if one wants to be a lead), so the presentation has to be made by the team or by the individual? Will individuals that have already gathered a team be given higher points?

Individual.  It's possible that a "team" will be given some positive view, but given that team dynamics are so important, I don't think we expect anybody to have really formed teams.  What if you decide you don't like one another?  Of higher importance in our decision making, is the presentation and team that is formed between July and October.

Probably better to view the kickoff presentation as focused on getting feedback on your idea, and attracting teammates, rather than trying to have a team formed by then.

77) Also listed in the selection process document is that you will be organizing calls between the inventors and potential lead students between july 1 and 24th. Is there a possibility that we can confine these calls/meetings over 2-3 days. The only reason I say that is because few of us have trips planned for July (before we start business school), and kind of getting a sense of those meeting dates will help us plan our trip better.

Good to note. There are so many different parties to coordinate, that I think it's unlikely that these calls will all be over 2-3 days. And if we did, then there would be those that would miss it entirely due to other commitments.  Spreading it out over 20 days is an imperfect system, but should provide enough success to be workable.

78) Are there any fees/tuition for being in the Program for Entrepreneurs?

No, there are no additional fees/tuition to MBA students in the Program for Entrepreneurs.

79) Can we submit more than one idea for P4E? 

You can. I think you'll need to convince us, though, that when you find one idea you really like, that you will have the ability to stick with it enough to make significant progress.  We have observed some students with multiple ideas who do not seem to make progress on any of the ideas (not so good).  And we've observed some students with multiple ideas who make a lot of progress on one idea at a time (good).

80) I spoke with another Fuqua student who had a little bit of knowledge about P4E and one concern raised by her was that, at least in the past, Fuqua has ownership over the projects that are selected each year. Is that still true, and if so, how would that work for with my non-profit organization?

Unclear what you mean by "Fuqua has ownership". My guess is she misunderstands.  Fuqua does not have ownership of the projects.  We can say whether people are "in the program" which determines whether they are enrolled in the courses and get credit. As an example, EntoGenetics was in the program and was started by a scientist in Charlotte.  He owns the company, and at this point the students are helping.

81) Am I correct in my understanding that everyone who is interested in P4E is invited to the pre-program on the 24th-25th, will present on the 25th, form teams and present again between July and October - where the team leader(s) from the top 8 teams are accepted into the program?

The team leader(s) and the supporting roles are accepted into the program, not just the team leader(s).

82) When will we know if we are accepted to the program?

Selection will be on a rolling basis between July and October. We will select the top teams. 

Q: Logistical question.  Math Camp conflicts with P4E Kickoff

Math Camp and the P4E Kickoff overlap on Friday, July 23rd.  The schedule is packed tight and this has been our best option the past couple years.
You are not required to be there for Friday, July 23rd, but it will be useful.
If you have to take Math Camp but would like to opt out, contact Paula Sloan <ps3@duke.edu> about potential courses you can take.
If you have to attend Math Camp, you can still join us for Saturday, July 24th, which is when the students will pitch the ideas they've selected.

Q: How does P4E and the Concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation overlap?

They are different.  You don't need one for the other.  The Program for Entrepreneurs is our flagship program and offers a great experiential option for those wanting to experience entrepreneurship.

Q: How do we talk to people that are interested in P4E, that are at Duke but not at Fuqua?

This is mostly organic, you have to find these people.  
There are some events where people can match including the Duke Start-Up Challenge and the Duke Entrepreneurship Education Series (DEES)
Last year one team matched with a law school student by pitching at a DEES event.
We had 66 students in New Ventures 1 (first course in P4E) and 8 of them were not Fuqua students.

You can also find some lists of students here: http://www.entrepreneurshipatduke.com/Home/find-a-team

It's important to us that you find students outside of Fuqua (both undergrad and grad) and this is something we encourage and are working on making better.

Q: Can someone outside of Duke be part of the team? As in,a friend of mine in india who has been helping in the conceptualisation of the idea?

Yes.  As a general principle, the P4E is meant to be "real world" so yes non-Duke people can be part of the team.  

Q: What if i am interested in supporting role for the first year and I wanna lead the project for the second year. Is it possible? and am I able to get course credit for the second year?

Yes, though you can't take the same class twice. (Or more specifically, you can't take NV1 and NV2 over again during your second year). 

The "lead" terminology just means you are committed to the project after Fuqua.  A team can have multiple leads.
Scenario a) You stay with the team and become a lead on that project.  
Scenario b) You have a new project and you "lead" that project into NV3 (because you can't take NV1 or NV2 again).  Note: This is tougher because you'll have to prove to the Advisory group that this project is ready for NV3.

Q: Talk more about 2 years at Fuqua are insulated are protected, develop ideas to lot of maturity, without much scrutiny, without everything bombarding you.
I have a concern of risk of starting something, given that I haven't done a startup before. And also the financial pressure of taking on debt.  A lot of this two years was "insulated" great opportunity for us, people who haven't done entrepreneurship before. 

It's important to know that P4E isn't just all leaders/those committed to starting the company.
Of the 66 people that were in P4E last year (in NV1), about 20 were "committed" to starting the company upon graduation, which means that 46 were in "supporting roles". 

In other words - we are very welcoming of those of you who just want to experience starting a company.

The key for you will be to find a project and a team lead who you'd like to work with (and who would like to work with you).  Get them to agree to letting you join their team. 

Q: How is the size of a team decided? Does the Lead do it? or is the size based upon your suggestions?

Yes, it's the lead student(s) that decide. 
Minimum for NV1 is you have to have at least 3 people on the team.

Q: For an international student, how easy is it to continue with his P4E startup after finishing the MBA. As in, getting the work permit. Any past instances?

Not that easy.  There is a movement to create a "Startup Visa" in the US, but separate from that, it's a tricky road to get a work visa and start the company. 

Q: Question on team matching dynamic.  Who makes the final call of someone who can join? Is it the lead student(s)?

The lead student(s) make the final call on who can join the team.

Q: Quick summary on the format of the presentations for July? Powerpoint?

Yes, powerpoint is ok (and slightly preferred).
It will be a very short presentation, probably less than a few minutes (we'll take the number of minutes in the day and divide by the number of people that want to pitch).

The goal is to:
1) Get the advisory committee to like you and your idea to let you into the program.  (Teams are let into P4E based on the strength of the idea and the strength of the team).
2) Get your classmates to like you and your idea and want to join your team.

Q: Just a quick note which may not concern others on this call... but the dukeven.com site is blocked in China. Is there another way I can submit my idea?

Yes, send me an email, hwr2@duke.edu.  I'll send you the questions to answer.

Q: I like multiple ideas, can I work on them?

In a supporting role, yes, though you'll only receive a grade for one idea, so you have to commit to one for the purposes of the course.
And if you are leading a project, you can only lead one project, but yes you can support another project.

This is meant to be real world, so you can allocate your time how you wish. But for the academic purposes you need to be committed to one project.

Q: Being located in a different location with the inventor?

Not a problem.  The inventor or other people on the team don't need to be located here, though they need to be committed to making it work with you remotely.
We've had teams do trips to meet with the inventor, which is a good idea.

Q: What would you advise us to do?

Summer - focus on team matching, getting to know your classmates entrepreneurial interests.  Once Fall hits you'll be extremely busy.
Fall - Select a really good project, one that has a potentially large impact, serves a real need in the market, and hopefully is defensible.