How To Prepare For Your Time At Booth (For Future Founders)

How To Prepare For Your Time At Booth (For Future Founders)

Hi again, future founders@Booth!

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of you and hearing about your ideas and plans for your time at Booth. I’m so excited for each of you, and can’t wait to work with you all as classmates and friends in the future. In these meetings, one question that I am asked over and over again is:

“As a founder, what resources does Booth offer to help make my two years as productive as possible?”

This is a great question, and honestly one that will be different for each founder. What helps someone running a $1,000,000 annual revenue run rate company will not necessarily be relevant for someone at the ideation stage. That’s why I encourage everyone to speak to other students who have been in your shoes, and hear what resources have helped them the most. However, no matter where you are in your journey, Booth has some amazing resources for everyone. The following is not an exhaustive list of every entrepreneurship resource available at Booth, rather some recommendations for resources to look into based on the stage of where you are currently. 

Jump to Section: Interested in Startups But Not Sure About Founder Life, Ideation/Early Days, Established Business

———

Interested in Startups, Not Sure About Founder Life

This could be you if: You’re not sure if you’re ready to launch your own thing yet, but you want to learn more about the product development process and what startup life is like.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I like working in fast-paced, ambiguous environments?
  • Does the idea of “figuring out a project on my own” excite me?
  • Am I the type of person who would be okay not spending the summer in a more traditional and established role?
  • Will the unstructured environment of a startup work well with my work style?
  • What problems do I care about?
  • What industries do I find interesting?
  • How much risk am I willing to take?
  • What is my skill set, and where can I contribute the most to a startup?
  • Which skills do I currently lack that I should try and learn while at school?

Booth resources for you:

  • Startup Summer – Work for a Booth-led startup the summer before your MBA program. Keep in mind that since this takes place before school begins, applications for this program are usually due in March (around Round 2 admittances).
  • Join a New Venture Challenge (NVC) Team – While you might not be ready to start your own NVC team, joining another team is a great way to see what working at a startup is like. Put your name down on the Polsky Team Building spreadsheet to start looking for teammates, or reach out to people who have listed their companies on the sheet.
  • Venture Capital (VC) Lab – One of the best ways to get a wide breadth of exposure to a variety of startups is to work at a venture capital firm. Depending on the firm, you could be helping to evaluate dozens of startups in many different industries every day, learning over time what you’re most drawn to.
  • Intern for an Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Team – Booth students can intern for a team in the I-Corps Program, a National Science Foundation-funded entrepreneurial program for teams working on ideas in the science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields. Work alongside a professor and team doing cutting-edge research in STEM and help them bring it to market.
  • Small Business Growth Program – The Polsky Small Business Growth Program supports small businesses owners in Chicago. Your team will take on an 11-week consulting project, working closely with the owner to grow and scale their business. This is a great way to get hands-on experience working with an actual local business, especially if you’re interested in social impact work.
  • Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) – For students who either work at a startup or their own entrepreneurial venture full-time over the summer, EIP provides a way for students to get support and funding through the school. This is a great program to look into if you’re planning to work on your own venture throughout the summer, or even if you’d like to intern at a startup.
  • Polsky’s Programs and Events Page – The Polsky Center is constantly organizing events and programs, so check out what they’re up to!
  • EVC Website – EVC is Booth’s Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital club, and they also run events and programs throughout the year. Their website also lists all of the club co-chairs, and these people are great resources to reach out to if you want to speak with a current student focused on entrepreneurship.

———

Ideation/Early Days

This could be you if: You’re thinking about your own ideas, and committed to starting a company while at Booth. Maybe you have interests in multiple industries, or maybe you’re working on one idea actively. However, you do not yet have a usable minimum viable product (MVP).

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What problems do I care about solving?
  • Which industries do I find interesting?
  • What types of people do I want to work with?
  • Am I looking to bring others into my idea or work solo for now?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses, and who can I bring on to help supplement those?
  • Does my idea solve a real problem that people would be willing to pay for?
  • Do I want to work on this idea full-time over the summer, or should I try to intern instead?

Booth resources for you:

  • Start a New Venture Challenge (NVC) Team – The question of if you should join an NVC team or start one yourself is always tricky, and the right answer will depend on your own situation. My two cents is that if you have an idea and want to work on it, there’s no harm in submitting an application your first year and seeing what happens! Put your name down on the Polsky Team Building spreadsheet to start looking for teammates.
  • University of Chicago Dual-Degree Programs – Depending on your area of focus, the University of Chicago has a few dual-degree programs that could be worth considering. Of course, these programs are very heavy workloads, but if you’re looking at starting a deep-tech software company, for example, a Masters in Computer Science could be invaluable!
  • Entrepreneurial Discovery Class – Every entrepreneurship class at Booth is incredible, but Entrepreneurial Discovery in particular is the class to take if you’re in the ideation stage. In this class, you work with a team to iterate on a problem statement and validate it with real customer feedback. This class teaches you frameworks for how to iterate your own business, and is also a great place to meet other students interested in entrepreneurship.
  • Polsky Accelerator – During the Summer Quarter, the Polsky Center runs accelerators for student ventures where you receive funding, coaching from Polsky Center staff, mentorship from alumni entrepreneurs and Chicago-area investors, and weekly programming. The applications for this are in March, so most people do this program in the summer between first and second years.
  • Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) – For students who either work at a startup or their own entrepreneurial venture full-time over the summer, EIP provides a way for students to get support and funding through the school. This is a great program to look into if you’re planning to work on your own venture through the summer, or even if you’d like to intern at a startup.
  • Professor Heltzer’s Reading List – Professor Heltzer (VC Lab) has a great list for VC/PE-related articles. There’s also a great section on different business models that I recommend you take a look at (if you somehow find yourself with an excess of time).
  • Polsky’s Programs and Events Page – The Polsky Center is constantly organizing events and programs, so check out what they’re up to!
  • EVC Website – EVC is Booth’s Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital club, and they also run events and programs throughout the year. Their website also lists all of the club co-chairs, and these people are great resources to reach out to if you want to speak with a current student focused on entrepreneurship.

———

Established Business

This could be you if: Your company’s legal entity, usable product, and revenue model exist. Maybe you’ll change it in the future, but as of right now you can provide value to customers and get money in return

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I want to raise money?
    • If yes, how much money do I want to raise?
  • Do I have the right team to take this company to the next level?
  • Do I have the right advisors?
  • Is there another revenue model that would work better?

Booth resources for you:

  • Polsky Accelerator – During the Summer Quarter, the Polsky Center runs accelerators for student ventures where you receive funding, coaching from Polsky Center staff, mentorship from alumni entrepreneurs and Chicago-area investors, and weekly programming. The applications for this are in March, so most people do this program in the summer between first and second years.
  • Start a New Venture Challenge (NVC) Team – If you’re at this stage, you probably came to Booth ready to win NVC. It is an amazing experience, and one that will only make your business stronger! Put your name down on the Polsky Team Building spreadsheet to start looking for teammates.
  • Entrepreneurial Selling – This class is a way for students to get hands-on experience calling into prospects and doing sales for startup businesses. In the past, teams get to pick their company, so it may be worth reaching out to the professor and seeing if any team would be interested in using your company as a case-study.
  • Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) – For students who either work at a startup or their own entrepreneurial venture full-time over the summer, EIP provides a way for students to get support and funding through the school. This is a great program to look into if you’re planning to work on your own venture through the summer, or even if you’d like to intern at a startup.
  • Polsky’s Programs and Events Page – The Polsky Center is constantly organizing events and programs, so check out what they’re up to!
  • EVC Website – EVC is Booth’s Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital club, and they also run events and programs throughout the year. Their website also lists all of the club co-chairs, and these people are great resources to reach out to if you want to speak with a current student focused on entrepreneurship.

No matter what stage you’re in, you are about to embark on two amazing years of experiences and growth, and a plethora of resources are at your fingertips. Welcome to Booth, we’re so glad you’re here!

Welcome to The Booth Experience Blog

Follow me on Twitter

STAY IN TOUCH WITH US

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookCheck Our FeedVisit Us On Youtube