31/03/2011

By Nick Badman, Chair, The Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship, Cass Business School

It’s traditional for MBA and MSc programmes to be strongly infused with “entrepreneurship” electives. And it’s no different at Cass. These electives give students a chance to learn about and experiment with enterprise concepts. At the same time, for many students these electives are almost entirely an academic exercise and only a few of them will actually start businesses.

At Cass, we’re a bit different. We believe that it is not enough to research, write and talk about entrepreneurship. We provide real support for real entrepreneurs and their businesses in the real world.

Through the Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship, we blend the knowledge and resources of a premier business school with the skills and networks of successful entrepreneurs, financiers, and business leaders, and we focus them in a practical way on the needs of entrepreneurs, owner managers and their businesses. We do this through:

- Development programmes covering the whole cycle from start-up, through growth, all the way to exit

- Incubation support

- Equity funding through the Cass Enterpreneurship Fund

Our 2011 New Venture Creation programme runs at Cass over five days in early June. In the programme, we focus on the key areas which our experience has taught us are early definers of success or failure - areas like cash, risk, selling, networking, team building and the role of the founder. We expose participants directly to the experience of both successful entrepreneurs who have done it before, as well as to peers who help to develop the whole plethora of skills and awareness needed to turn vision into reality. Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some elect to join as part of our mainstream programmes and many will not have been inside a business school before. This year, following a national competition, six participants will receive scholarships from the Federation of Small Businesses and Santander will again be awarding scholarships to promising social entrepreneurs through UnLtd.

While a few people are “cured” of their entrepreneurial itch by this programme, most go on to put the programme into action, launch their businesses and make their visions reality. For some of these, we subsequently offer the opportunity to base themselves physically in the Centre and to work from our offices. Currently, we’re incubating promising young businesses involved in geolocation/events management, media, and legal services.

Owner managers of more established businesses, who are ambitious to take their business to the next level of growth and development, participate in the development programmes run by our highly experienced partners at Your Business Your Future. Once again, these programmes are entirely real and are based on Your Business Your Future’s distinctive process which helps participants to actually create the different and better future they want for their businesses and themselves in the reality of their businesses.

In addition, through the Cass Entrepreneurship Fund we are also prepared to “eat our own cooking” - by backing with real, hard cash the most promising entrepreneurs we encounter and work with through any of our programmes. With the financial support of Peter Cullum, a successful insurance industry entrepreneur and Cass alumnus, the Fund makes funding available to start up and early stage businesses in amounts of up to £500,000. In the first year of the Fund, we’ve backed three businesses in this way and have the appetite and resources to fund an increasing number over the coming years.

We believe business schools have an important role in supporting entrepreneurs and business owners – provided we keep it real. Through our programmes, our support and our equity investments, we help real entrepreneurs and owner managers to start and grow their businesses in the real world. As a result, they have access to all the resources they need to have a disproportionate chance of success.

www.cass.city.ac.uk/pcce

Want to know more on entrepreneurs? Watch the following video below from inspiring entrepreneurs such as Mr & Mrs Smith, o2, Seven Hill and Make Your Mark With A Tenner on what it takes to be an entrepreneur:

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