Blog: 5 Major Takeaways From MBA Venture Projects

Providing a realistic situation of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, Professor Michael Burcham’s Launching the Venture course gives Vanderbilt Owen MBA candidates a practical experience to learn from. Upon developing a product concept, detailed marketing plan, financial projections, and an operational strategy, student groups pitched their ideas to investors. When asked for their biggest takeaways, the following emerged:

1. Gaining Experience in Relevant, Real World Settings

“I had heard this is one of the most exciting classes at Owen, with the most real world relevant experience. Nowhere else are you able to experience such a cross functional dynamic setting in the classroom that is directly applicable to entrepreneurship or any facet of business.” – Blaine R. Davis

“My team had to think deeply about how we would portray our brand, how we would attract and retain customers, and how we would differentiate ourselves in the market against competitors.”  – Collin Costello

2. Practice in Managing a Team and Succeeding in Leadership Roles

“‘Launching the Venture’ gave me an 8-week crash course in what being a CEO is like.” – Erin Campbell  

“As Lead TA, I had the experience to act more in an advisory role, working directly with the teams to accelerate their ideas from first thought up until having business plans they can pitch to investors.” – Blaine R. Davis 

3. Learning Alongside Professionals 

In the end, one of the best aspects of the class was the access to local entrepreneurs and investors. Being able to learn from these experienced and successful professionals provided me with insights that will be pertinent regardless of my post-Owen career.”  – Collin Costello 

4. Learning How to Pitch to Investors 

“Having worked with start-ups prior to Owen, being on the other side of the pitch to real, local investors was illuminating. I look forward to continuing to participate in the entrepreneurial scene and foster connections made in the class.” – Erin Campbell 

“My biggest takeaway about entrepreneurship from this class was how to tailor your pitch to the audience you’re pitching to and in this case, it was a group of Nashville investors from various industries. Learning about how to put your ‘investor hat’ on while putting together our business plan and pitch deck was a key takeaway since an investor pitch deck is very different than other communication presentations.”  – Paige Parker 

5. Recognizing the Challenges Associated with Launching a Business 

“Launching a business is really hard – you definitely need a thick skin to be able to handle the criticism you’ll face and the emotional rollercoaster you experience with the early wins and losses.” 

“It seems so easy to identify your target market but the level of detail you need to hone in on to size your market is incredibly specific and therefore difficult.” 

“Customer acquisition is very expensive and when your business model depends on growing your customer base, it takes a while to reach breakeven. Therefore, it’s important to come up with secondary revenue streams to help support growth.” – Rene Casali  

To read more about the teams’ business ideas and pitch winners, visit our blog on MBA Launching the Venture Projects.