“Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.” —Richard Branson
With one of the most diversified economies, Chicago is a hotbed of entrepreneurship. In fact, Chicago has the highest percentage of women-founded startups in the world. Entrepreneurship is a highly competitive and rewarding career path that requires careful consideration and strategy to generate success. Explore everything needed to get a business up and running. From idea generation to market research to fundraising and marketing, conceptualize and design a business that meets one of society’s needs or solves an important problem. Practice being highly attuned to the changing world around you and use your observations to identify emerging markets, find openings for new products, and formulate unique product applications. After embracing your own style of leadership, build a dynamic founding team and work together to create a solid business model. Hone your investor pitch until it’s ready for the elevator. Engage with business leaders and industry experts who have secured investors, launched businesses, and scaled companies. Learn from their successes and (more importantly) from their missteps. With a clear vision and a strong design thinking process, you’ll be ready to navigate the startup scene.
All students will be required to bring a laptop.
Do you always have your eye on the next big thing? This course is designed for creative thinkers who want to turn a business idea into a reality, gain knowledge of global brands and global markets, and build skills in public speaking. Combine your interests in brand development, business, and data analysis as you create, prototype, and pitch an idea.
Tour Startups + Incubators
Some of the hottest new companies in tech, finance, and fashion are right here in Chicago, including Trunk Club, Groupon, GrubHub, and the next new thing. We’ll be visiting startups and incubators to gather advice and speak with successful and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Through a series of exercises that push the boundaries of your creativity, identify what gap in the market your product or service will fill. You will need to determine your product or service’s “job to be done.” View your product development through a lens of “what’s possible” rather than “what’s within reach.”
You have an idea, but is it something society needs? Or, even wants? Market research helps you determine the viability of your idea as a potential business. In fact, lack of sound market research is a common cause of startup failure. Use focus groups, A/B testing, and many other market research strategies to generate data your team can analyze to determine if there is enough of a market for your idea.
Build a Business Model
One of the biggest challenges that startups face is cash flow. Work with your team to create a financial model that ensures your company’s sustainability, scalability, and eventually perhaps even profitability. Balance price and product and create a go-to-market strategy.
Nicole Chang is a branding and global expansion strategist who has served in leadership positions at Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, and Stanford Business School. An entrepreneur in her own right, Nicole has co-founded several companies, is involved in the international art market, and recently produced a short film about Stanford GSB graduates in China.
JD Schramm is a Lecturer in Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business and is an expert in the fields of strategic communication, reputation management, and thought leadership. Prior to Stanford, Schramm was a Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Barry Nalebuff is an expert game theorist and the Milton Steinbeck Professor of Management at Yale School of Management. Nalebuff has been at Yale for 30 years, teaching negotiation, innovation, strategy, and game theory. He has co-authored six books, including Thinking Strategically and The Art of Strategy, which are two crossover books on game theory with over 400,000 copies in print. Nalebuff also founded the company Honest Tea with a former graduate student, Seth Goldman.
Gemma Sole is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Nineteenth Amendment, a designer-direct fashion house, where you can shop for fashion from emerging designers who will create a look just for you on demand. Sole was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the category of eCommerce for her work with the website. Prior to starting Nineteenth Amendment, Sole was a strategy consultant at Booz Hamilton and venture capitalist.
Megan Balch and Jaime Barker co-founded the NYC-based swimwear line, Flagpole Swimwear. The line, named for the founders’ favorite West Palm Beach locale, features beautiful yet functional swimwear that “combines beach life with city style.” Balch and Barker met in high school and reconnected after college to launch their line.
Sima Sistani is the co-founder and COO of Houseparty, “the app winning over Generation Z with spontaneous togetherness.” Houseparty is a social networking app that connects up to 8 people simultaneously through video chat. The app is finding its success in offering an authentic way for young people to connect with one another. Prior to launching Houseparty, Sistani worked at Tumblr as Head of Media and at Yahoo! As Director of Business Development and Strategy.
Sarah Law, named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, founded and serves as a designer at KARA, which launched in 2013 as a line of handbags that quickly became popular with celebrities and Instagram personalities. Law’s is a typical startup story—she started KARA with her own money in her living room and was later invited to take part in the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Incubator, a program that helps to support and grow the next generation of great designers.
Courses are just one part of your day at EXPLO. Electives, activities, evening events… We pack a ton into a single day — imagine what you can do in three weeks.
Choose from 20+ trip options each session.
Culture. Entertainment. Adventure.
Live, learn, and become lifelong friends
with students from six continents.
At EXPLO, we give you the tools to tackle it head on — from college to career to a life of purpose and meaning.