When it comes to an education in entrepreneurship, DePaul’s graduate program ranks 11th and the undergraduate program ranks 17th in a comparison of 2,000 schools. In fact, DePaul is among the top 25 programs in the country. The Princeton Review evaluated programs on how well they teach business fundamentals, whether the faculty includes successful entrepreneurs, and the availability of experiential or entrepreneurial opportunities outside the classroom. The rankings were published in Entrepreneur magazine (October 2011).
“In our entrepreneurship programs, students get to see what knowledge looks like in the real world. And that makes all the difference,” says Patrick J. Murphy, associate professor, Driehaus College of Business.
“Practice without theory is blind, and theory without practice is pointless. Entrepreneurs are busy practicing; our students are busy thinking. The two groups have a lot to give each other and a lot to learn from each other.” In eight years, DePaul students have helped more than 100 entrepreneurs with everything from strategic planning to marketing and distribution. Many end up getting hired by the companies after graduation.
“We’re no idle ivory tower,” says Harold Welsch, management professor and Coleman Foundation Chair, agreeing that DePaul’s programs are innovative in their hands-on approach. “Our students get the solid academics, but they also learn things that every entrepreneur needs to know — things that can’t be taught in a classroom — like how to build a network with city officials or the small business administration, or how to work with banks, law firms, and advertising agencies, or how to handle curve balls, such as new regulations or emerging competitors.”
“The entrepreneur class I took — Professor Murphy’s MGT 595 (Social Entrepreneurship) — exceeded my expectations,” says Diego Gonzalez (MBA ’13). “My background is finance and here I am, maybe for the first time, learning how to be creative. I worked with the Field Museum on a social venture project to help an indigenous tribe in Peru generate income by selling crafts to tourists. Each person on my team had a specialized skill, and we took advantage of each other’s strengths. We were passionate about coming up with good recommendations for production, quality improvement, and marketing — recommendations calibrated to ‘stick’ given the tribe’s unique culture. Now, the client plans to use our ideas for grant proposals. Working with a client forced us to adapt models we read about to real-world constraints and opportunities. I ended up wanting to work a lot harder than I thought I could.”
Tanja Gajic (’12) was also surprised by Murphy’s ICS 394 (Entrepreneurship Strategy) class: “The classes themselves were entrepreneurial — more questions were asked than answers given — and that rerouted my brain: I never knew that I liked thinking and learning that way. Now, I see things differently. I’ve come to realize that one goes to college to change everything — I’ve changed the jobs I want to look for, the things I want to be involved in, and the way I approach problem solving. As part of a seven-person team — with skills in finance, marketing, and public relations — I worked with Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged students apply, pay for, and get through college successfully. We wrote a business plan to help the organization address its need for new funding sources. Everyone on the team was needed; everyone was motivated to do his or her part.”
DePaul’s programs also have an entrepreneur-in-residence, entrepreneur mentors, and guest speakers. “These resources offer perspective and advice that money can’t buy,” says Welsch. DePaul hosts an annual national conference of prominent entrepreneurs. Finally, the program encourages student groups. One of these — Kellstadt Marketing Group — was founded by then-student Neil Feuling (MBA ’09, MS ’10,) to give graduate students a better way to network with professionals and industry leaders. Now, the group has 600 members on LinkedIn and more than 1000 Twitter followers.
Feuling works in corporate strategy for cars.com, an online a shopping destination that brings together consumers and auto dealers, and as an entrepreneurial consultant. This summer, he’s co-teaching one of Welsch’s classes whose students will support the launch of his latest venture, an online travel business called Georama (see links below).
"For me, reaching out to DePaul was both a ‘no brainer’ and a brilliant move,” he says. “The company will get great ideas from talented students, and the students will get extraordinary experience. When I was in graduate school here, I saw what it’s like to launch a business, from planning through execution to growth. I had always had the desire to be an entrepreneur; at DePaul, I got the confidence.”
In 2009, the Idea Village hosted a student competition pairing MBA candidates with entrepreneurial ventures. DePaul’s team was matched with Naked Pizza. “Our students were stars,” says Murphy. “We gave them a 30-40 page strategic growth plan. Now, the company has 40 locations around the world, and because of our work and our relationship, it’s opening a store in Chicago this summer.”
Read the story in USA Today:http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2009-03-24-idea-corps_N.htm
In 2012, Patrick J. Murphy won the "Lawrence W. Ryan Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award" —currently the only faculty member in the management department who has taken home this honor, which is determined by the votes of graduating seniors.
For more information about Georama: