University students crowdfund their own startups in US’s first experiential course on crowdfunding

By Lisa Walls-Hester on Friday 2 December 2016

Savings and Investment

Students at Suffolk University in Boston are crowdfunding their business course projects as part of a new entrepreneurship course. The university claims it has introduced the US’s first experiential course on crowdfunding. 

Students in the business school class are tasked with creating and launching campaigns to fund their own start-up companies through Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Entrepreneurship professor Jennifer Dinger said "While a few other universities are discussing crowdfunding as part of traditional course content, the real-world approach to this course makes it different. Suffolk students in this class are learning how to turn their business ideas into action, and they are going after the funding to support those enterprises."

Could universities become the incubators of tomorrow’s unicorns? They are certainly a one-stop-shop for producing fundraising campaigns and launching new businesses. In a cross-disciplinary approach the wider resources of Suffolk University were employed and the business students teamed up with the Law School’s Intellectual Property clinic for help with brand trademark applications, graphic designers in Suffolk’s New England School of Art & Design for logo development and RamCam Productions in the University’s College of Arts & Sciences for campaign video production.

The concept for the crowdfunding course came out of conversations between Dinger and Professor Chaim Letwin, a colleague in the Sawyer Business School’s Management and Entrepreneurship department.

Dinger and Letwin both study crowdfunding platforms and how campaign components relate to people’s decisions to contribute money to a particular project. The course looks at factors that lead to crowdfunding success, including the idea, the pitch, and the prototype.

The campaigns launched after the unique startup prep at Sawyer Business School:

  • WarmUp Protein Coffee is a high-protein coffee, to fitness-focused people on the go.
  • The Wicked Fisha is a line of innovative fishing equipment and accessories, starting with a cooler/tackle box combo that eliminates the hassle of lugging multiple boxes to a fishing destination.
  • Buddha Bus Yoga provides traveling yoga classes out of a mobile studio. The business offers on-site classes at workplaces, college campuses, food markets and more.
  • Goliath Gallon makes a reusable, bisphenol A (BPA)-free and easily cleaned gallon bottle for ice, fruits, amino acids or whatever is needed. The Kickstarter campaign will fund the initial production run, including a plastic molding tool for mass production.
  • NEO Miners is a new card game that focuses on resource management and economic principles, with a space-travel theme.
  • Vegitano is a health food brand offering alternatives to people who follow a vegan diet or are allergic to dairy and/or gluten.

Dinger said “Small business and innovation are critical to the health and vibrancy of the economy. “Experiential courses like this are aimed at accelerating the startup launch process and increasing the rate of startup businesses among our most promising young adults.”

More information about the campaigns can be found here.


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