Priorities:Wake Forest University Student Priorities

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Project Pitch Video


The Wake Forest University Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship program exhibits many characteristics of programs at much larger universities. The resources available, programs conducted, classes offered, faculty advisers, and overall desire to change the Wake Forest campus provides students exciting opportunities. One aspect that I believe differentiates Wake’s program is the multitude of classes offered by the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Program. Entrepreneurship classes range everywhere from empowering high performance teams to equipping entrepreneurial scientist with the necessary skills to start a venture. Students start by taking three core courses to teach them basics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and managing a start-up. The wide variety of courses offered captures student interests from across many disciplines. This is purely evident by the number of Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise minors on campus. The ICE program’s positioning within the university is also an explanation for its ubiquitous nature on the Wake Forest campus. The program is not considered a department, nor is it buried in our undergraduate business school. In fact, it is centrally located on campus with beautiful glass room offices providing a “googlesque” environment.

Furthermore, the ICE program provides remarkable ways to inspire the entire student body with events that call students to action. For example, TEDx has become a staple event by the ICE program which has hosted major speakers from the Wake Forest University Regenerative Medicine Primary Investigator, Dr. Anthony Atala to College Humor found Ricky Van Veen. For the past three years, both TEDx conferences have hosted 1000+ people and have brought an inspiring call to action on the Wake Forest campus. Moreover, the ICE program hosts a global entrepreneurship week, Entrepreneurial Speaker Series, and Excellence in Entrepreneurship Banquets.

In a different way, the innovation and entrepreneurship is bolstered on campus through the Seed Grant Proposal projects. Each semester, the ICE program provides students with a four day short series on writing grant proposals. This workshop offers business and non-business students advice on how to successfully write top-notch grant proposals. These students are then able to complete a business plan and submit their ideas to a committee within the ICE program. Students are invited to give 15 minute presentations and can be awarded up to $10,000 for their start-up. This process not only teaches students important entrepreneurial skills such as grant writing, business plan creation, and pitching but also provides them money to move their passion into an action. These points are just a few of the positive aspects I see with Wake Forest University’s Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Program. At the same time, I have identified two sections of WFU’s I&E landscape that need improvement in order to foster higher levels of entrepreneurship on campus.

The gaps I see in the Wake Forest innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem lay within the potential and applied columns. The potential column lacks a larger number of I&E extracurricular clubs, competitions, and start-up weekends which could augment the number of students involved on campus. In addition, the applied column lacks a well-developed infrastructure and team formation avenues. Improving these aspects could enhance student’s ability to apply their knowledge and solve specific problems. Wake Forest’s innovation and entrepreneurship activity is at a plateau; however, with the implementation of minor programs, drastic changes can occur bring innovation and entrepreneurship to the forefront of this campus.

Calling all Students

Informational Session (come hear plans, offer feedback and help expand opportunities for all students)

  • Where: Wake Forest Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship website ]  and facebook ] . I hope to plan meetings coinciding with the E-Society 
  • When: 6th of every month at 4 PM. ICE Program Office 
  • RSVP: You can reach me with questions and responses at

Strategy #1: Potential

Following are an array of strategies that will fully address Gap #1 over a 2-3 year period:

Tactic #1: The Student Venture Capital Fund (Wake Ventures)

  • Description: I believe that this strategy can hit on a number of key points to develop the innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. The immediate problem The Student Venture Capital Fund will solve is the lack of entrepreneurial extracurricular clubs. This will provide students with a way to get involved in the I&E ecosystem on campus while learning and having fun. On campus, there is a similar organization called The Student Fund. My idea was to model this club in a similar mindset. The interesting part about this idea is that it can be twisted and reorganized so that it fits the needs and resources of the campus. The way I see this tactic running would be to gather a group of 20 to 50 students. Each month the group would meet and give presentations about startup companies they have researched and learned about. They would put together all aspects of their business plan and then pitch it to the larger group. We would have a theoretical dollar amount in the fund to give to each company. The students acting as the VCs could discuss pro vs cons and whether they would invest in this company. Student groups could be broken down into sector/industry groups so everyone could learn about different industries as well. On the other hand, instead of conducting the Venture Capital Fund in a theoretical sense we could attempt to raise money through the ICE program or other university resources. This way we could actually invest money into student entrepreneurs and gain a more hands on approach. This could also open doors to invite local venture capitalists to speak, sit in on the meetings, or give advise. I think a club like this could also teach non-business students the "frightening" financial process behind funding ventures.
  • Team Leader: Keshav Daga
  • Milestones: In the process of development. Plan for formal launch in January 2016 by having an information session to gauge student interest.

Tactic #2: Business Plan Competition (Demon Deacon Pitch Plan Competition)

  • Description: This event would solve another large gap within the potential column of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. A competition of some kind is desperately needed on Wake's campus. A pitch plan, business model competition, executive plan, or shark tank type of event are all possibilities. As of right now we have something called the i2i (inspiration to innovation) competition. This gives students a problem and some materials to invent and build a way to solve the problem. This is a great competition! I would also like to see a competition related to pitching ideas for new ventures to a give problem. For starters, this could possibly be incorporated into the i2i competition to spice things up with a new aspect to the competition. Winners of this event now receive $1,000.  I also see a business plan competition as a way to involve teachers from disciplines outside of the engineering and science departments. From this, students can be inspired by teachers in their discipline and find ways to be entrepreneurial themselves. Furthermore, this could also be twisted into an undergraduate elevator pitch competition for students with current or possible ventures.
  • Team Leader: Austin Evers Competition Director and President of E-Society 
  • Milestones: Assess the current competition and how it can be improved Dec 2013, Design another possible competition Jan 2014, test possible competition March 2013, reevaluate competition April/May 2014, hold competition fall of 2014. 

Tactic #3: Wake Forest Start-up Weekend

  • Description: The third way I see to solve the gap in the potential column would be through at Start-up Weekend. Through this event, students could form teams and work on a 54 hr intensitive time span to create ideas, business plans, and prototypes. This competition could be framed in many ways from sustainability themes, social impact, to improving campus in an innovative way. These teams could also be put together according to a survey of strengths and weaknesses prior to attending the event. The goal of this would be to create teams and show students their ability to create meaning.
  • Team Leader: Hunter Dean Program Director
  • Milestones: Assess idea and make improvements Dec 2013, design possible weekend program Jan 2014, test possible event March 2013, reevaluate the event April/May 2014, hold competition fall of 2014.

Tactic #4: Wake Forest Incubator

  • Description: An incubator can help student entrepreneurs take their business ideas to the next level. They will receive formal guidance through experienced faculty/professors and will receive academic credit for their enrollment in the incubator (giving an incentive to be active in the growth of their business). 
  • Team Leader: Dan Cohen, Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Milestones: Take a poll of students to see their interests and make a plan for the incubator based on that. 

Strategy #2: Applied

Following are an array of strategies that will fully address Gap #2 over a 2-3 year period:

Tactic #1: Student Entrepreneur in Residence 

  • Description: A great resource for students on campus is an entrepreneur in residence. In the spring 2014 the Wake Forest ICE program is bring their first entrepreneur in residence to campus to co-teach classes and be a resource for students. I think that having a student entrepreneur in residence would also benefit our campus. The idea would be to have several successful student entrepreneurs act as mentors to upcoming ventures and aspiring entrepreneurs. Student entrepreneurs in residence would have an idea of university resources, contacts, technology, IP, legal clinics, and other support  for students with nascent ventures. This would also fill the gap for students who wish to start a venture but are not sure where to begin. Overall, they would help navigate students and assist in ways the entrepreneur in residence may not have knowledge about.  
  • Team Leader: Alex Gromer (Potential Student Entrepreneur in Residence)
  • Milestones: Assess potential student entrepreneurs in residence (SER) Dec 2013, set up idea for the program and get SERs to commit to the program Feb 2014, advertise SER program with spring semester seed grant rounds April 2014, reassess program and make adjustments for fall semester May-Summer 2014. 

Tactic #2: Wake Start

  • Description: My idea for Wake Start is a combination of both 1,000 pitches and crowd sourcing aspects. I think that bring a website to campus where students can post videos of their venture or meaningful impact ideas would be a great addition to the I&E ecosystem. Furthermore, I think adding a crowd sourcing aspect to the website could be helpful and different. In my mind, students would have short videos on their ideas and other students could watch them, provide funding, offer other resources, or join teams. It would be a combination of funding also team formation for new student ventures. I think this would also break down barriers across campus between science, business, engineering, and liberal arts students. Overall, I think interdisciplinary teams could form and gain momentum with a strong online presence.
  • Team Leader: John Marbach (Program Developer and Project Leader)
  • Milestones: Refine project idea and plan Jan 2014, develop website March 2014, run trials May/Summer 2014, Launch 2015

Tactic #3: Improvement of I&E Infrastructure 

  • Description: My plan for improvement of the Wake Forest ICE program infrastructure has many short and long term goals. My beginning goals would be to assess all of the ways to improve the infrastructure, develop a going forward plan, and develop a step by step process and timeline. This plan would include improvements to the Babcock Demon incubator which is off campus. This would be moved back onto campus with new space and be better advertised to students. Next I will consistently work with leadership in the ICE program and the university to find or develop innovation space on campus. Wake Forest is in need of design thinking, innovation space, and lab space for entrepreneurs. This is a big task but would provide a plethora of resources for student entrepreneurs at Wake Forest. Furthermore, I would like to see the Wake Forest undergraduate school foster a closer relationship with the downtown Biotech Place. This would be an interesting relationship to look into and see the potential for undergraduate students. All of these aspect will take many years to develop but would take innovation and entrepreneurship on Wake Forest's campus to a completely new level.
  • Team Leader: Mike Tantum and future University Innovation Fellows 
  • Milestones: Develop short and long term plan for improvement along with methods "How to" May 2014, Continue with plans/contact ICE leaders/University leadership Fall 2014, refine plans and reevaluate Jan 2015 

Tactic #4: Center for ICE

  • Description: The Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship is the department that issues the ESE minor and sets up activities related to the I&E world. They are affiliated with organizations and happenings on campus including TEDx and the Entepreneurship Society (now Innovate@Wake). We would like the Center for ICE to have more extracurricular clubs under its umbrella, such as a Venture Capital club (discussed above), 
  • Team Leader: Keshav Daga and future University Innovation Fellows 
  • Milestones: Poll students on types of clubs they would like to participate in/learn more about and contact campus stakeholders to see who would be a good fit for each club. 

Strategy #3: Wake in Silicon Valley

Currently the best political science students at Wake Forest are encouraged to complete a semester or a summer at the Washington Center. This is aptly named as "Wake in Washington". While in Washington D.C., students are exposed to the best experiential learning opportunities that a Political Science student could desire, in addition to taking a couple of classes. 

Wake Forest already manages a portfolio of real estate abroad, including houses in London, Vienna, and Venice. Learning the logistical and managerial operations of a house in Silicon Valley would be easy given the school's existing off-campus houses. 

I propose that a house be rented in Silicon Valley, where students could take two classes from a Wake Forest professor, and also intern at a local startup or established company in Silicon Valley. Outreach to companies would likely start where Wake alumni currently work, such as CrowdTilt,, Google, and various others.

This strategy can first be implemented through a week-long trip to visit Bay Area companies over one of the school breaks.

Related Links

Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University Student PrioritiesWake Forest University Student Priorities


Michael Tantum

John Marbach

Keshav Daga