Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum – Information for potential Urban Entrepreneur Partners

Thank you for your interest in participating with my University of Michigan class, “Urban Entrepreneurship.” In this class, we explore the ways in which entrepreneurs can apply innovation and technology to improve the quality of life in urban communities. I created and started teaching this course in 2015, and students have found it to be a rewarding experience that prepares them for a broad range of post-graduation opportunities. Students have indicated that one of the most rewarding aspects of the course is their engagement with real urban entrepreneurs and real urban communities.

The heart of this course is the work that our student teams do in cooperation with our Urban Entrepreneur Partners (UEPs, or Partners). Each team of 4-6 students will work to understand, document, and analyze the business model of the UEP’s venture. Each team will then apply innovation and technology to suggest improvements to the business model. The semester will culminate with the student teams’ presentation of their “new and improved” business model to a group of community stakeholders, as well as to any Urban Entrepreneur Partners who wish to attend. We will of course make the results of the students’ work available to our Partners.

We seek to work with entrepreneurs who are building businesses that serve urban communities in new and innovative ways, and whose businesses could potentially grow to serve many similarly situated communities. We apply a few simple criteria to the selection of Urban Entrepreneur Partners:

  • Provides a product or service that is geared primarily toward urban community customers.
  • Seeks growth driven by innovation and technology.
  • In business for at least one year, with at least two employees (including UEP).

The quality of work done by our student teams depends directly on the quality of engagement they have with their UEP.  We seek Partners who support the mission of the course and find the interaction with students invigorating. We expect that our Partners will:

  • Participate in a recorded interview (approximately 1.5 hours, via Zoom) with student team members to share the business story and business model information.
  • Participate via Zoom in a classroom discussion of the business. This session will give all students in the class an opportunity to know the entrepreneur and the business model.
  • Hold an “office hours” session (via Zoom) with the student team for at least one hour per week. During these sessions, you will respond to team member questions and connect them with additional information and marketplace stakeholders.
  • Respond to e-mail and other electronic inquiries from students, and in general work to support the success of the student team.

Student teams work hard to deliver on the expectations of the Urban Entrepreneurship course. Students are expected to:

  • Participate fully in the initial classroom discussion with the UEP.
  • Research the UEP’s business and the marketplace.
  • Study, document, and analyze the UEP’s existing business model.
  • Connect with marketplace stakeholders to further understand the business model and to validate potential improvements.
  • Apply innovation and technology to devise and suggest improvements to the existing business model.
  • Produce an executive summary and slide presentation to summarize the student team’s work.

Thank you for your interest in working with my U-M Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum class.

You can find general information about the subject of Urban Entrepreneurship at this web site: urbanei.org (Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative).

You can check out the synopsis of the Urban Entrepreneurship course syllabus at this location: https://davidtarver.com/ue-syllabus