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Columbia Business School students joined other MBAs from eight universities, including Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth and Harvard, to participate in The Idea Village’s IDEAcorps, a nationally recognized MBA service learning program that connects university resources to provide hands-on strategic consulting to New Orleans entrepreneurs during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW).
Teams of six students from each of the participating schools have been paired with a high impact New Orleans startup. They then worked with the company over the week of March 10th to tackle a critical business challenge or leverage a strategic opportunity. The Columbia team, who are all members of the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), were assigned to Zlien, a company that helps building supply and construction companies manage mechanics lien and bond claim compliance.
“This is the second year the CEO has been involved with this project,” said Robert Groberg ’14, who was selected by The Idea Village to lead the team. They recently spoke to Zlien to identify the scope of the project with Entrepreneur-In-Residence Professor Clifford Schorer serving as their faculty advisor. “The CEO is an ideal club to contribute to this,” Robert added, “and we are proud of our involvement.”
“Since 2009, IDEAcorps has been connecting top MBAs with New Orleans startups to provide direct strategic consulting services,” said Tim Williamson, Co-Founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “The program has catalyzed the New Orleans entrepreneurial community and created a real-world experience with entrepreneurship.”To date, the program has engaged over 500 individuals from over 20 business schools across the United States.
At the end of NOEW, the student teams will be required to present their recommendations to a panel of business and academic experts during the Coulter Challenge, an “American Idol” forum for entrepreneurs. “It is exciting to see top MBAs from around the country competing,” added Sara Thomas, an IDEAcorps alum and Director of Product Management for The Idea Village. “The program has grown steadily since its inception because both the MBA teams and entrepreneurs receive tremendous impact.”
Robert, who has a background in private equity and investment banking, is particularly excited to roll up his sleeves and get to work. “This is an exciting experience for me that taps into my growing love of businesses of all types,” said Robert. “It’s an opportunity to work directly with an entrepreneur at the ground level to help an early-stage company succeed.”