At the core of this program, we want to empower people with lifelong entrepreneurship skills. It’s not just about exploring an idea and seeing whether or not it succeeds. It’s about learning how to start companies and growing with each venture, regardless of the outcome.
Enter With an Idea
A unique part of this program is that you are expected to develop your own startup. This startup will form the basis for many of your student projects. In essence, this takes the place of the thesis you would write in other master’s programs. This startup can be based off an idea you come in with, or an idea you develop based on the opportunity discovery frameworks you will learn in the program. This idea can–-and should–-change over the course of the program as you engage in real-world customer discovery and lean testing of your core assumptions, applying class content and working with expert mentors. Entrepreneurial learning is accelerated through the application of these frameworks and concepts. Thus, we expect all students to research and attempt to launch a viable entrepreneurial venture during their time in the program. You keep 100% equity of your idea (unless you license IP from UW).
A Typical Week
In order to fulfill your ambitions, this is a serious time commitment. Each week you will spend roughly 15 hours in classes, workshops, mentor meetings, and weekly check-ins which are scheduled at varying times Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Additionally, students dedicate a minimum of 25 hours outside the classroom to homework, team assignments, fieldtrips, and time to work on your own startup. Weekends and most evenings are all yours–-with the expectations of: events you may want to attend and winter quarter you will have one evening course on Tuesdays. Since you are passionate about your idea, you’ll most likely spend additional hours developing your startup.
Team Homework vs. Individual Work
Some classes are case based where you’ll work on assignments in study teams. Other classes are highly practical and you’ll apply what you learn directly to your startup.
A Social Network
Regardless of your age or work experience, embark on your entrepreneurial journey with a close-knit cohort—these are your people. Through social outings, team formation nights, and networking events, you have the chance to interact with a diverse group. Build your network both on and off campus. Interact with the Seattle entrepreneurial community and meet people through mentoring, workshops, fieldtrips, at meetups, and special events. Harness the power of community, and share this entrepreneurship experience with a peer group as focused as you are!
Entrepreneurship is both challenging and rewarding. Through this program you will receive the skills necessary to launch a company. We know that not every idea launches, and some companies take more time to get off the ground. By the end of this program you may find you are on a trajectory to incorporate and raise funding, or you may want to work for an early-stage startup for a couple of years first before starting a company. And while we hope for you an eventual launch to the company you work on in the program, both of these outcomes are a success.
Outside the Classroom
Hear experts talk about how they overcame entrepreneurial challenges and leveraged opportunities. These are real entrepreneurs telling it like it is. Workshop topics include: ideation and validation, the Seattle startup ecosystem, prototyping, metrics, bootstrapping, and more!
We’re strong advocates of the role mentors in a startup’s success. We’ve recruited fearlessly candid mentors who are serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, and attorneys. You will work with these subject matter experts both one-on-one and in small groups. Learn about our mentors. These are the people you want to know!
Now that your ideas are starting to take shape and gain initial traction, there’s great value in talking about your successes, challenges, and goals with each other. Starting autumn quarter, we introduce Weekly Check-ins. These are casual, one-hour sessions where you meet in groups to briefly share updates. Check-ins are intended to provide a safe outlet for peer-to-peer interaction about everything you’re dealing with as an entrepreneur.
Each quarter we venture off campus to explore co-working spaces, labs, startups, or venture capital firms in a Seattle neighborhood. Go behind-the-scenes and get your questions answered on these fun tours.
Numerous entrepreneurship events are held at UW and in Seattle. From UW team formation networking nights–with cross-disciplinary, entrepreneurship-minded students–and the UW Startup Job Fair, to EntreFest, DubHacks, Seattle Startup Week, and more. These events are great opportunities to mix and mingle with a variety of people. You never know where you may find a possible co-founder or a great new hire!
In spring quarter, you will apply to the annual UW Business Plan Competition (BPC). The BPC provides you the opportunity to tell your story to the Seattle startup community, the visibility you need to get going, and feedback from experienced judges. $85,000 in BPC prize money alone is awarded each year! Also, if you are pursuing an idea in health or clean tech, you may also choose to apply to the UW Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge and the UW Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, and possibly receive prototype funding.
Jones + Foster Accelerator
One month after the MS in Entrepreneurship program ends, students have the opportunity to apply to the 6-month Jones + Foster Accelerator. Companies accepted into the program receive mentoring from a committee of entrepreneurs and investors, guidance creating measurable milestones, workshops, connections, and up to $25,000 in follow-on funding if milestones are met.
Why Seattle? The local Seattle network embraces student entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship and innovation run through Seattle’s veins. Amazon started here, as did REI, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Blue Nile, Real Networks, Redfin, and two now-legendary start-ups—Microsoft and Boeing. Google and Facebook have opened offices. PATH is here too, as is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
So, what makes this city a magnet for entrepreneurs?
- There’s an Entrepreneurial culture, with a 200-year history of scrappy start-ups.
- UW is a Research power houses. The UW is regularly on the list of the top 25 universities in the world. Research funding tops $1.5 billion and the UW boasts 2 major medical centers, more than 7,000 faculty and research scientists, and 270 specialized research centers.
- A talented pool of workers. Seattle’s in the top 10 “most educated cities.”
- A strong media to tell start-up stories. Such as GeekWire, TechFlash, Xconomy
- Sources of capital. 20+ active venture capital firms and angel groups, including the Alliance of Angels, the most active angel group in the country.
- The Business climate. Washington state is “#5 in the best tax systems in the country for entrepreneurs.”
- Seattle has a lot of “Anchor tenants.” Big draws. Everything from retail to biotech and clean energy.
There’s Support for early-stage entrepreneurs. There are literally dozens of groups, networks, and meet-ups in Seattle, including TechStars, Founders’ Co-op, and Startup Weekend.