While Stanford may not offer business as a major, it is far from lacking in entrepreneurial opportunities. In fact, in the four years of attending the school, it doesn’t even seem possible for one student to be able to participate in all the many entrepreneurial options Stanford provides.
One of the best ways to become involved in entrepreneurship on campus is joining student organizations! Not only does this give you the chance to meet people with similar interests, but your involvement has the potential to develop into leadership opportunities.
I’ve found being a BASES member very fulfilling. It’s the largest student entrepreneurship group at Stanford and offers a range of roles and responsibilities, such as raising funding, working with top entrepreneurs in the Valley from Mark Zuckerberg to Joe Lonsdale, running hackathons and startup pitch competitions, event marketing, design, and more. If you want to learn more, please come to Fall Recruitment this week! BASES gives you the chance to make lifelong friends whiles also learning and exploring the world of entrepreneurs. We also work with a recommend other business and entrepreneurship clubs including Stanford Consulting, Stanford Marketing, Stanford Women in Business, and ASES.
Another great way to become involved in entrepreneurship is by taking a class! Not only does this provide a great opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of starting a business, but it also gives you a chance to meet other people with similar interests. One of my personal favorites is MS&E 473, the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series, which is a speaker series offered each week with guest speakers every week who come to talk about their ventures in the entrepreneurship world. Past speakers include Mark Zuckerberg and Meg Whitman, and this quarter’s lineup includes the CEO of 23andme and Zillow Group.The corresponding class, MS&E 178 is a great complement to the class. Not only does this provide an off-the-record Q&A session with the each of the speakers, but it also is a great chance to learn in-depth about valuations, business models, networking, and accelerators. It is offered twice a week for fifty minutes and is a great way to become involved in entrepreneurship in a structured classroom setting, with minimal outside work. If you enjoy classroom participation, this is definitely the class for you! Learn more at etl.stanford.edu.
If you are looking for a more comprehensive class, CEE 246, Entrepreneurship in Civil and Environmental Engineering is an incredible opportunity, which I got to take last Spring. Taught by a team of seasoned venture capitalists and angel investors, this course is solely focused on building a business and takes you from the idea phase all the way through customer acquisition, financial modeling, go-to-market strategies and developing an in-depth pitch to investors. Disclaimer: the class takes about 30-40 hours per week (depending on how much work you put into it) and has presentations every third week. Also, the class is primarily offered for graduate students, but if you email the professors, they are often willing to accommodate undergraduates who are passionate about entrepreneurship! So, if you really want to take the course, I would recommend that you make this your priority class for the quarter. That being said, this class is life changing. It provides you the real life experience and interactions with real investors, which is hard to find in many class environments here on campus. Rather than learning through books, you learn through actually building the business. Many teams that have come from the class have actually received funding! Today, I am still working on the startup that I built through CEE 246, which has raised a pre-seed round and has been accepted into accelerator programs Plug and Play as well as Smart Cities Accelerator.
Other hands-on entrepreneurship classes include ENGR 140A: Leadership of Technology Ventures, ENGR 145: Technology Entrepreneurship, and ENGR 245: The Lean Launchpad (taught by Steve Blank!). You can find more information for all these classes from the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (http://stvp.stanford.edu/) and the Lean Launchpad website (stanfordleanlaunchpad.weebly.com). You can also look out for classes at the Stanford d.school for more design thinking-focused classes! (dschool.stanford.edu).
Finally, Stanford and Stanford student groups are always offering events and workshops to help you learn more about starting businesses and hosting events where entrepreneurs come to share their experiences. The hardest part is just knowing where to find them! Always keep an eye out for posters on campus, and join lists of relevant student organizations that will send this information right to your inbox. Clubs like BASES and SWIB send weekly email digests with event information. But the best part is that, if you already join some of the groups and classes above, you’ll already be on all the right lists and hear about even more entrepreneurial opportunities.