The trade show; everyone in business knows how important they can be. For entrepreneurs especially, it's a gilt-edged opportunity to bring a new product or service to market, road test it in public and solicit vital feedback.

For the Steven Grossman Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, Associate Professor Erik Monsen, it was a chance to see the fruition of ideas borne from his "Crafting the Entrepreneurial Business Model" class. He was joined by David Aronoff, General Partner with Flybridge Capital Partners, who is not only a venture capitalist, but also a UVM Trustee (and former member of the GSB Board of Advisors). David also joined Professor Monsen for a debriefing session with the students.

For the eight Sustainable Innovation MBA teams, it was all part of the class. A chance to set up a booth and hone their business idea and elevator pitch skills to all who passed through. 

Students presented their business ideas and models as part of his class, which ranged from a tiny house community, to dissolving coffee pods made from algae, a purveyor of reclaimed materials for construction, natural skincare and health products, gap year college preparation service, workspace venture and an location based app to match consumers interests.

Studies suggest that experiential entrepreneurship education that guides students through the process of starting their own firm, as opposed to more theory-based curriculum, increases confidence and the likelihood they will become entrepreneurs. “People become entrepreneurs because they think they are good at it and are going to be successful, but students don’t always feel that way when they graduate,” says Erik Monsen.

Monsen, a former aerospace engineer and entrepreneur, was hired to teach entrepreneurship to undergraduates and graduate students in UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA (SI-MBA) program. Part of his hands-on approach involves students working on commercialization projects and as consultants for researchers on campus needing help bringing new technologies to market.


John M Turner