By Rachel Goemaat
TRENTON, April 14 – As the academic year winds down, nearly a dozen Rutgers University graduate students are getting ready to showcase what they learned in the inaugural Collaborative for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (CTEC) class. The course, which teaches students how to take products from intellectual property (IP) through commercialization, continues New Jersey’s long-standing tradition of cultivating the next generation of innovators in the Garden State.
Known as Discovery to Business Model (fall semester) and Business Model to Venture (spring semester), the two-semester course involves MBA, Master’s Degree and PhD candidates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines working together in teams of four to six students.
Each team puts together a portfolio of IP, which is comprised of patents owned by Rutgers University and/or the United States Navy. Every three-hour class is broken into two halves. During the first half, students hear lectures about steps entrepreneurs should take to build companies. Guest lecturers include established entrepreneurs, investors and others involved in the startup process. The second half of each session is devoted to the teams applying what they learned that day to their own portfolios.
By the end of the second semester, the goal is for each team to create a business proposal for a startup company and hopefully launch that company in New Jersey. Current students will present their business proposals to the general public in a “pitch” event on April 27. For more information about the event, or to register, visit https://ctecpitchnight.splashthat.com/.
The class is offered jointly on Rutgers’ Livingston Campus in Piscataway through Rutgers’ Business School and the University’s School of Engineering, and is led by Professors Ted Baker and Roger Debo of the Business School and Stephen Tse of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. This is the first year that Professors Baker and Debo are teaching at Rutgers University, after teaching a similar class at North Carolina State University for the last 15 years.
According to Baker, during that time, half of the startups coming out of North Carolina State were involved in the program. He said this type of hands-on approach to entrepreneurship is being implemented around the country and throughout the world.
Before the course began in September, Baker and Debo reached out to New Jersey’s technology community to attract mentors for each of the teams. Kamran Hashmi, a Program Manager within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Technology and Life Sciences division and Sam Kongsamut, an Executive-in-Residence at the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies were selected as two of the 10 mentors.
Hashmi told @NJEDATech he heard about the mentoring opportunity from the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Network (NJEN), a non-profit organization providing educational and informational service to entrepreneurs and investors. Hashmi has been on NJEN’s board for the past two years. Kongsamut learned about the program through Tatiana Litvin-Vechnyak, Director of Biomedical & Life Sciences Licensing in Rutgers’ Office of Technology Commercialization.
“The fact that both Kamran and Sam were selected and are volunteering their personal time to mentor students speaks volumes about both the caliber of their expertise and the EDA’s commitment to fostering an atmosphere of collaboration within the Garden State,” EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said.
@NJEDATech asked Hashmi and Kongsamut about their experiences with the class:
What did you get out of mentoring the class?
Hashmi: I instantly recognized that this was a unique opportunity to utilize my skill set, knowledge, and network. Mentoring the teams allows me to help guide a new breed of entrepreneurs and stay connected to my alma mater. My experience has been extremely rewarding. Not only do I get to coach students on real-world business strategy, I’ve also learned a lot during the lectures on the methodical, process-based approach of this class. I’ve also introduced a number of local contacts to both the students and the professors to help with their respective goals and objectives.
Kongsamut: I am always interested in learning about new ways to teach emerging entrepreneurs about the process, and in promoting the culture of innovation within New Jersey. Mentoring the class also allows me to share my own business experience with the teams, to help potential businesses get started in a good direction. As an added bonus, it keeps me up-to-date on new endeavors and potential startup companies and gives me the opportunity to network with students and other mentors.
Students also weighed in on their CTEC experience:
MBA Candidate Vikram Sarveiya: It is certainly a great experience, which aligns with current market trends. It gives students an opportunity to directly experience evaluating/starting a new business, and touches upon several processes involved, from project idea to initiating/managing business ventures. I feel like it is an MBA in and of itself. And it obviously opens new networking channels.
MBA Candidate Ke Zheng: By taking the CTEC class, students are getting true real-world experience. Unlike other MBA class projects that can mostly be done through online research, CTEC allows students to dive into the real world. Students must have the “do-or-die” mentality to work through the project, so decisions must be carefully made based on facts.
Master’s Degree Student Shweta Thapa: My perspective is from a mechanical engineer’s point of view. I received a huge amount of exposure that I owe to the CTEC course. CTEC is an eclectic course that gives you real-world education beyond the classroom’s boundaries. It’s a whole new world in itself, which not only triggers but also pushes until the end to become an entrepreneur in any domain.
The EDA offers a multitude of resources to help technology companies grow and thrive. To learn the details about these resources, please visit http://www.njeda.com/tls and follow @NJEDATech on Twitter and LinkedIn.