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Georgetown Course on “Launching the Venture” Launches New Student Authors

The business world is changing, as more and more college students seem to be steering themselves away from the world of big corporations and big business and opting to start their own business. This entrepreneurial mindset is spreading like wildfire, fueling creative visions and helping create employment opportunities across the country. The term ‘startup’ has become one of the most popular buzzwords in the business world, which is understandable as small companies continue to explode onto the business scene and redefine their industries. Given all this, it is hardly surprising that colleges and universities would be doing their best to create opportunities for their students to explore and learn about the world of startups and entrepreneurship.

Georgetown University is one of those schools. Students with an interest in entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business were recently offered a rare opportunity. These students were enrolled in a course titled “Launching the Venture,” taught by adjunct professor and entrepreneur-in-residence Eric Koester.  

A noted veteran of the startup world, Koester is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He has also founded multiple companies, such as new technology startup Main Street Genome and small business and service marketplace Zaarly, which is dubbed one of the Fifty Most Innovative Companies in the World by media brand Fast Company. In addition, served as an executive at Appature Inc., which was acquired by IMS, and was one of the founders at Learn That Name, which was acquired by Blackberry.

But Koester is not just a businessman. He has published multiple books on entrepreneurship. In this year’s class, his students wrote and published books of their own because he wanted to try something different, Koester told TUN.

I’d taught the Launching the Venture course for the past three years but grew frustrated because it was more theory than practice. That’s why I decided to try something unique this year: I told the students they’d be creating books.

He told TUN that his instruction to the students was simple. “Find something you are passionate about and write a manuscript that teaches your audience something,” he said. “The goal was to have each student demonstrate their purpose.”

It seems safe to say that Koester accomplished his purpose. The class contained 32 students, almost all of whom had never written more than 10 pages at a time prior to the course. By the time the manuscripts were completed, though, according to Koester, the average length was 21,000 words. The quality of the student works was so good that a publisher decided not just to publish 16 of them, but to create a new publishing imprint titled New Degree Press. Of the 16 new authors, one has been signed by a literary agent. The following semester saw these authors work with professional designers to create covers for their books and begin to market them. On April 25th, they are due to hit the shelves.

The books written by these students cover many different fascinating and important topics.

Here is a summary of a few books:
  • Adrian Abrams, author of A.T.T.E.N.D., is in the process of launching a book tour titled “From Homeless to Dean’s List,” where he plans to share the story of his time as a homeless person and the method of studying that he developed for low income/first generation college students.
  • Georgetown baseball captain Nick Leonard discussed the “War on Sugar” in the athletic world and the problems that sugared sports drinks such as Powerade can cause for athletes. Koester describes Leonard’s work as an “incredible story.”
  • For her book, Jaclyn DiGregorio developed a nutrition method for busy members of her generation, which included launching a new nutrition startup.
  • Using her book “Glass Sky,” collegiate sailor Maryn Cannon found a way to break into the outdoor industry, when she interviewed 18 women who are the top of their respective outdoor industry fields, such as Kayaking and Mountain Rescuing.
  • Fellow student Shiv Jhanghani also interviewed many people. His book, titled “1.3 Billion, which Koester describes as a “fantastic read,” discussed the process of finding the next top soccer player from India. Wanting to see India win the World Cup, Jhanghani interviewed top level executives from organizations and clubs, such as US Soccer, Arsenal and Real Madrid, as well as many professional players.
  • Matt Busel’s book “Game Changer” is about “the future of Augmented Reality in sports.” When he discussed the book with business magnate and philanthropist Ted Leonsis at a recent university function, Leonsis, who owns the Washington Capitals and Wizards, told Busel “I would love to buy a copy of your book.”  Busel has since been named a “Top Writer” for Augmented Reality by medium.com.

Needless to say, Koester is quite happy with the results of the course. The students’ published works are already doing far more for them than just earning them a high grade. “The most important outcome is these students are getting jobs they dreamed about,” Koester states. “They are having conversations to be hired as consultants, they have kickstarters… they are real entrepreneurs using their books to launch themselves.” Koster doesn’t plan on stopping there, though. He told TUN he plans to go further with the program. “My goal is to help others leverage this at other schools and I’m speaking to other professors and students to try and spread this opportunity to others,” he said.

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Samuel O’Brient grew up in western Massachusetts, though most of his days are spent at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, New York. His time there is spent studying business communications and serving as editor in chief of the SLC Economic Review. As a writer, journalist, and blogger, he has written for many different online venues on a variety of topics. When he’s not working on his blog, Samuel can often be found sailing, on the golf course, or on the tennis court.