It’s a constant refrain in entrepreneurship classes: What’s the customer pain you’re trying to solve? “It’s not a random question,” says Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. “I’ve had to answer it myself several times, in relation to the new programs and competitions we’ve started at the Center.” Bourassa-Shaw had one customer pain that she’d been thinking about for some years: How could the center respond to the needs of early-stage entrepreneurs who know that they’re missing business skills and knowledge, but won’t take two years out of their lives to complete an MBA (which often isn’t a good fit)?
The solution is now a reality: a new 12-month, daytime University of Washington Master of Science in Entrepreneurship degree beginning June, 19 2017 at the Foster School of Business. The program, which will cost $24,900 in tuition for in-state students, takes an innovative approach by combining intensive entrepreneurship education with time for students to work on their own startups and ongoing mentoring from an impressive group of Seattle entrepreneurs.
“We call this program Year Zero of Your Startup,” says Bourassa-Shaw, who will serve as the co-director of the program, along with faculty Ben Hallen, assistant professor of entrepreneurship. “We’re looking for recent engineering or science graduates who’ve fallen in love with their senior capstone projects or people who’ve been out of college for 5 to 10 years who want to jump ship and start working on the ideas they’ve had in their heads for some time. There are no GMAT or GRE scores required to apply to the program, but neither will there be career services. You’re here, after all, to create your own job!”
The real strength for the new Master of Science in Entrepreneurship is Seattle. Serial entrepreneur and angel investor TA McCann is entrenched in the community and will be a mentor for the MS in Entrepreneurship program. “Having very large companies like Amazon or Microsoft, mid-sized companies like Zillow or Expedia, and lots and lots of small companies creates a really good dynamic for people to be attracted to Seattle,” says McCann. “It’s also a damn good place to live.”
“It’s about turning a spark into a business,” says faculty director Ben Hallen. “We want you to come in excited about something, having seen a problem. We’ll work with you on how to figure out the solution to that problem and then how to turn that into a viable, ongoing, high-impact business.”
The application opened in early January of 2017 for the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, and the next task, Bourassa-Shaw says, will be “admitting students who have the determination, passion, and self-awareness to be successful. Ours isn’t a standard graduate application—and this program isn’t for everyone. We’re looking for prospective students who can’t wait to get going on their ideas.”
Coursework mimics the startup process (from ideation and formation to execution and scale) and incorporates lean thinking. Students will attend workshops with a peer group that is similarly focused on the startup experience. The relationships forged in this program will open up opportunities to compete in Buerk Center competitions and join the ranks of previous student teams who’ve gone on to raise nearly $400 million dollars in investments.
“I’m confident that the students who enroll will quickly acquire the vital business skills that many entrepreneurs typically only learn through trial and error,” says Liz Pearce, CEO of Liquid Planner. “Seattle is the perfect place for this program and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Those interested in the program can sign up for regular updates and find additional detailed admissions information right now. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship blog and Instagram page feature additional reasons why the program might be the right fit for you.