In product development the process is design, build, test; But for business development, the sequence is different: design, test, build. Before you build a business, you need to know if it makes sense to build; it simply takes too much time and money to do otherwise.
Conducting a feasibility study provides that reality check and a quantitative analysis of “soft” numbers can reveal the amount of money needed to build the business; the number of potential customers and strategies for expanding the customer base; the financial upside and timeline for reaching profitability; and the projected return on investment for investors.
Students have an opportunity to refine their business-assessment skill in the Clean Tech
Entrepreneurship course, a joint business-engineering course taught by Professor of Entrepreneurship Peter Adriaens. Working in teams, they drill into real emerging “clean tech” companies to solve technical, business-model and market-uncertainty problems. In the process, students learn how to assess business potential and create value while they gain hands-on experience by collaborating with entrepreneurs. Adriaens’ Special Topics in Engineering course and the New Venture Creation course taught by serial entrepreneur and Adjunct Lecturer Jim Price offer additional skill-building venues.
One of the best way students put their business-assessment skills into action is through participating in our student led venture funds, the Wolverine Venture Fund (WVF), the Frankel Commercialization Fund and the Social Venture Fund. These challenge students to apply their business-assessment skills by performing due diligence on new ventures spawned by novel technologies, medical advances and other innovations. The WVF alone currently oversees investments in 15 early stage companies and has negotiated four successful exits through acquisitions or IPOs since its inception in 1998.
Next, comes business planning.