2014 proved to be a promising year for Duke students and faculty involved with entrepreneurship. With favorable rankings in the “Top 10 Entrepreneurial Schools,” Bloomberg Businessweek's "Best Full-time MBA Programs," and “Top Colleges for a Major in Economics,” Duke established its commitment to providing resources for students interested in business and innovation. Here are some of the highlights from 2014:
The first startup career fair: In February 2014, StartupConnect brought together more than 20 companies and over 250 students for a night of networking. The event, open to the entire Duke community and students from UNC’s entrepreneurship minor program, allowed attendees to become acquainted with local startups like SquadUP, RocketBolt, Qnary, and Dream Big Studios. Duke alumni Damien Hoffman of Wall St. Cheat Sheet and Peter Fishman of Yammer opened the night with a panel discussion full of advice for students seeking internships and jobs. Check out this video of the event:
“E-Week”: In September, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Initiative kicked off an inaugural celebration of a full week of entrepreneurship on campus featuring daily events, such as “How to be a Rockstar Startup Employee” and “Journey from Idea to Impact.” Over 1,000 alumni, students, and faculty gathered from all around the globe to participate in the festivities. The week included an “opportunities” fair with representatives from on-campus programs and clubs, a luncheon for aspiring women entrepreneurs, and culminated in the 15th annual Duke Startup Challenge.
Launch of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate: This past semester, Duke added to its curriculum a new certificate for aspiring student inventors, entrepreneurs and social innovators to pursue Duke’s mission of knowledge in the service of society. The certificate include four courses and a 450-hour “experiential” requirement. To read the ExitEvent article on the program, click here.
Increased Opportunities in Social Innovation: 2014 saw the introduction of several new opportunities for students to get involved with social innovation and entrepreneurship. The Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) hosted a Symposium in April titled “Scaling Innovations in Global Health” and featured presentations from USAID and growing social ventures around the globe. SEAD also organized several competitions for students on campus, including the “Ebola Challenge” this past fall. A course on social innovation was offered for undergraduates and taught by Fuqua professor and director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), Matt Nash. He also led the very first “Duke Engage in Detroit” in collaboration with the I&E Initiative, which gave students the chance to create solutions for innovative social enterprises in the Motor City.
The inaugural class of Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs: With a commitment to supporting undergraduate entrepreneurs, Melissa and Doug Bernstein of the beloved toy company launched a year-long intensive program for students to turn ideas into action. The 12 fellows received a $5,000 stipend, access to valuable resources, and one-on-one mentorship from acclaimed experts in their chosen fields. Read the ExitEvent article on the program here.
Successful Ventures: Several Duke student startups enjoyed success this past year. Let's Be Well Red won $50,000 in the Duke Start-Up Challenge and now produces 1,000 iron-rich nutrient bars a day (read the ExitEvent article here). Duke Alum Russell Glass '98 sold his startup, Bizo, to LinkedIn for $175 million early this spring. Maya Ajmera, the Duke Social Entrepreneur in Residence, was awarded the Rotary's Global Service to Humanity Award. And CrowdTunes won an NCIDEA grant and got its digital jukebox into 15 local venues.
New opportunities and interesting stories are bound to happen at Duke in 2015. But a few things to look forward to include: more classes added to the undergraduate curriculum related to entrepreneurship (such as “Strategies for Entrepreneurship" and "Cryptoventures"), the launch of a workshop series by the I&E Initiative, increased engagement with alumni innovators and more opportunities to get involved with the larger Raleigh-Durham entrepreneurial community.
Happy New Year!