The application season is in full swing for Class of 2015 at WEMBA SF. I met with several potential candidates and spoke to them about the program and my thoughts about it over the past few weeks. This post was an outcome of that, to focus on one of the aspects of the program that to me was not highlighted enough.
During the application process to Wharton, the term I was looking forward the most to (if I got in, that is) was Term 6. I had sat in on Doug Collom and Rafi Amit’s class on Venture Capital and Entrepreneurial Management. As I count the weeks to the start of that class and a few other interesting entrepreneurship related classes, I can think back to my first term at Wharton and how pleasantly surprised I was at options available for entrepreneurs in this program out here in SF.
To begin with, there is the Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs. It has several manifestations out here in San Francisco, one of the biggest of which is the Venture Initiation Program. This is an incubator run out of SF that brings together the Wharton network, contacts, and expertise to a selected set of Wharton founded startups and helps them through their early stages. There is also the Wharton Business Plan Competition which is seeing an increasing representation from WEMBA students, both from SF as well as Philly. In fact, the 2012 competition was won by a WEMBA East team! There is also the Wharton Entrepreneurs Workshops that are organized under the leadership of our Vice Dean Doug Collom in partnership with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. These talks are actually made available to the public through the Wharton YouTube channel.
In addition to these opportunities outside the regular curriculum, there are several opportunities within the curriculum. There are two classes focused around business plans and starting companies – MGMT 801 and MGMT 806. In these classes you get to form a team with your classmates, learn to prepare a pitch and present and refine your idea. The final project involves a pitch session with VCs and instant feedback as well. Term 6 of course has two classes on the financing aspect of startups (FNCE 750 and MGMT 804) and one on the legal aspects (LGST 813). I also found a detailed blog post that talks more about other elective options and clubs back East for folks that want to know more.
These efforts at growing the entrepreneurship focus out here in SF are not going waste. Several of my classmates in class of 2013 have gone on to quit their jobs and start companies. Daniel Chen and Amilcar Chavarria founded BuckSprout with help from Ajaiey Sharma. Vinay Mahadik is one of the co-founders of Securly, a startup that will make big news soon. Vijay Ramani started SocialMoola, and Tim Grammer is a co-founder at The Ultimate Sparkle. Three classmates – Manoj, Nirmal and Kalpan – co-founded ForeSpire, an advanced analytics company for product teams. In addition to these classmates, there are many that are at the crossroads in their lives where they are making the jump from day jobs that pay their bills to the unknowns of following their dreams and starting a company. Class of 2012 had an equal number of amazing entrepreneurs as well.
So why this post? If you are thinking about startups and wondering if Wharton fits the bill, think again. It is one of the best kept secrets of the WEMBA program in SF.