Monday, March 23, 2009

Idea Village, MBA students to work with local businesses next week

Posted by Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune March 20, 2009 5:23PM
Categories: Entrepreneurship

Naked Pizza needs to figure out how to go from operating a single pizza shop Uptown to opening as many as 1,000 nationwide. Flip-flop purveyor Feelgoodz has to ramp up its distribution system to accommodate a new deal with Whole Foods.

The New Orleans companies are two of six that will participate in a week-long workshop that begins Monday and is designed to help them figure out how to meet the challenge of growing their business quickly. Fifty graduate business students and a group of corporate executives will work with them to write business plans and otherwise help with their expansion.

The Idea Village created the workshop, called the IDEAcorps Challenge, with three goals in mind. The primary goal is to grow the local businesses, said Tim Williamson, president of the Idea Village.

But Williamson said the program's secondary and tertiary goals of providing hands-on experience to graduate business students and introducing them to New Orleans in the hopes that they might consider living and working here are just as important.

"Because of the economy, New Orleans is now a becoming a good place to work," Williamson said. "We want to use this as a recruiting tool."

The students, from the University of Chicago, the University of California at Berkeley, Northwestern University, DePaul University and Stanford University, paid their own way to visit the city during spring break. They will get a taste of New Orleans through tours, meetings with officials and dinners with residents.

The students and a team of executives from the California company will each be matched with one local entrepreneur.

The team assigned, for instance, to Don Kelly Productions will help the New Orleans firm devise a plan to pull off the city's first "green" music festival later this year.

The teams will meet from Monday through Friday to help each company craft a business strategy. Also participating in the weeklong workshop are local firms Alternative Housing Support Corp., Sustainable Environmental Enterprises and InSite.

"At the end of the day, we're looking at how to generate the highest impact for the entrepreneur," Williamson said.

1 comment:

  1. At NAKEDpizza we are excited about the opportunity to work with the Depaul University team. As I told someone last night, these guys are scary smart. As a new company we welcome fresh ideas and new perspectives - this is often how new strategies and opportunities emerge. It takes a village (maybe an IdeaVillage).