Free business course helps student entrepreneurs build successful startups

Florida State University students looking to start a business will have a shot at a free seminar in business development through a startup “boot camp” hosted by the university.
The FSU Office of Commercialization is offering enrolled students a free, six-week course introducing participants to the world of startup ventures.

“We’re teaching a systematic approach to building a successful business,” said Farhood Basiri, one of the course facilitators. “This helps aspiring student-entrepreneurs understand there is a process to finding out if their ideas are of value to customers.”

One unique aspect of the course is that applicants don’t need to have a business idea to be accepted. The program is designed to teach participants how to identify potential business opportunities, perform customer discovery, and build a profitable, scalable business model that can help ensure success.

Basiri, along with Florida State Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development John Fraser, helped organize the course, called Startup Gauntlet. The highly successful program was offered for the first time at FSU over the summer and drew 75 applicants for 60 slots.

FSU’s Startup Gauntlet is a lean version of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps, which was originally developed to teach professors and doctoral students how to commercialize their research. The summer program was open to students, faculty and staff, but the fall program is specifically targeting student entrepreneurs.

“The idea is that we want to give our students an environment to learn the ins and outs of how to build and scale a company,” Fraser said. “This is a no-cost opportunity for our students to learn a proven and systematic approach from people who have shown success in the business world.”

The free, non-credit course runs from Oct. 21 to Nov. 18, with participants meeting Tuesdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Florida State’s main campus. It is open to all students at the university, but space is limited.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of applicants from summer. We ran out of physical space and had to turn many away,” Basiri said. “We realized immediately the student body’s desire to gain hands-on experience regarding entrepreneurship and startups, and we’re excited to offer the Gauntlet once again.”

In recent years, Florida State has introduced entrepreneurship education through programs and initiatives designed to encourage students and faculty to transfer their ideas from the campus to the marketplace.

Such initiatives include the hiring of several entrepreneurs in residence to teach students how they can use their talents to create a business, as well as the funding of several technology-focused initiatives and innovation spaces open to students.

For more information or to register for the course, visit the Startup Gauntlet website. An information session is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Oct. 14. Check back on the website for updates on the location.