Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kelley Direct students help launch a start up to cap off their studies

By Kelley Direct Programs

Most graduate students have to write a thesis to complete their degrees. A recent group of Kelley Direct students helped launch a company.

As their capstone experience, a group of six students embarked on a two-phase consulting project for Covinia—a technology start up focused on enterprise social business software.

First, they developed a Private Placement Memorandum (PPM), including a detailed market and competition analysis, a risk analysis, and financial projections.

Next, they initiated the first round of funding, contacting venture capitalists, angel investors, and others who would be interested in financing Covinia.

And they did it all virtually.

“Our team was not only spread from coast to coast across the U.S., but we had a team member serving in Kabul, Afghanistan, as well,” said Ron Gicka, project manager. “But we turned the spread-out nature of our team into a strength. When necessary, someone could be working on the project almost 24 hours a day!”

Shari Abbott, president of Covinia, was very happy with the results.

“I was very pleased with the caliber of the students on our team. I like to think they were excited that they were not only learning, but doing something real,” she says. “The work they’ve done for us will actually help the company get up and running. That’s pretty cool.”

That, says Phil Powell, faculty chair for the Kelley Direct MBA and MS Programs, is the whole point.

“Capstone projects like this allow students to roll up their sleeves and get working, using all the skills they’ve learned at the MBA level to solve a problem,” he says. “ It solidifies the development of their management acumen . . . the only way to learn this stuff is by doing it.”

Gicka agrees. “This project has been an excellent way to end my time at Kelley Direct. The project was real, the customer was real, and most importantly, the deadline was real—this wasn’t a case from the Harvard Business Review,” he says. “I don’t think I have ever been more proud of earning an A in a class as I was in this one.”

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