This course is an incubator for startups making a tangible impact on people or the planet. The spirit of the course is to foster cross-campus access and collaboration to leverage Columbia talent and resources to build your team, access any necessary technology, advance your venture, and gain investor interest.
This course is an application only, 6-week (1.5 credits) structured experiential course offered to MBAs and interested students across Columbia University’s schools. Students will build new or advance existing social, environmental, health, and other impact ventures through collaborative investigation, experimentation, iterative design, network building, and compelling presentations to interested stakeholders. Potential ventures are mission driven, financially sustainable, and may span a broad range of sectors. Note that ventures may be structured as for-profit, a hybrid for-profit/nonprofit enterprise, or be a uniquely innovative nonprofit.
This incubator emphasizes the "double" or "triple bottom line" (achieving social and environmental impacts along with a financial return), encourages students to seek large market opportunities, and sets the expectation to materially leverage Columbia’s cross-campus talent and resources. Lean Launchpad and Design Thinking techniques will be used. Each session will consist of team presentations, lessons, inter-team collaboration, and mentoring.
Student teams finish the course with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP, no coding required), a validation-driven business model, preliminary pro formas (with data room), an investor ready pitch deck, demo day experience, and a one-page investment circular for introductions.
- Build skill sets to launch a venture addressing problems affecting people and planet.
- Enable essential networking for venture and professional advancement.
- Leverage university resources of two or more schools, the Columbia Global Centers, and the alumni network.
- Catalyze traction on customer discovery and business model validation.
- Guide the startup launch on tight financial constraints.
Who should take this class?
- Columbia students interested in launching a viable startup with a double or triple bottom line objectives (social, environmental and financial goals).
- Any current Columbia student with an existing idea but in need of a team.
- Any current Columbia student without a venture idea but interested in joining a team.
- Collaborative-minded entrepreneurs with a good hustle for getting things done.
What topics of ventures are suitable for this class?
- The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a useful framework for possible topics.
- See examples of Columbia-affiliate social ventures within the Tamer Fund’s portfolio.
- Suitable ventures include but are not limited to: health and wellness, climate impact, environmental sustainability, edtech, civtech, food/agritech, fintech, insurtech, journalism/new media, human rights/social issues, real estate and community development, smart cities, economic or digital inclusivity, and sustainable travel/tourism etc.
COURSE ADMISSION & RECRUITMENT
- By Application: Round 1 (August 19, 2021); Round 2 (September 10, 2021). Students will be notified within 3 working days after these deadlines. MBA focused, and interschool teams encouraged (undergraduates included). No prerequisites.
- Find team members by participating in Columbia University's Hacking for Humanity, September 10 - 12, 2021. View the information session on this cross-campus hackathon. It will give participants a head start on incubation programming, stimulate the discussion of venture proposals, and facilitate team building.
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Joy is an experienced founder, investment evaluator, and advisor to innovative early stage companies across sectors. Prior to forming her own boutique advisory firm, Fairbanks Venture Advisors, she served clients at LEK Consulting and Mitchell Madison Group, where she was a founding member and engagement manager. She started her career as a securities analyst at Fidelity Investments.
Joy has extensive...