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Xavier MBA course links entrepreneurs, business students to fuel growth

Entrepreneurship might be in the blood, but success takes more than passion. It also takes a head for business, and there are tried steps that every business should take to go from concept to reality.

An entrepreneurship course at Xavier University pairs the region's startups with MBA students for a partnership of theory and real-world application. The course, ENTR 668, is an extension of the University's X-LAB (Xavier Launch-a-Business) competition. X-LAB was founded by Xavier's Williams College of Business.

"We've learned through X-LAB that 90 percent of our businesses understand their idea, and are passionate about it, but they don't how to take it to market," says professor Joe Carter, X-LAB's Director. "That's a gap we can fill at Xavier."

As part of X-LAB, finalists meet with potential investors and receive training and consulting services during an 18-week process. Once that ends, ENTR 668 students choose a handful of businesses from the finalists for more intense consultation.

"The MBA students, along with a business advisory board, interview the X-LAB finalists and decide which businesses they are going to help," Carter says.

Each business can have a number of students assigned to it, depending on its needs. Some have had up to eight advisors. The businesses that have benefited from XLAB include the 3D printing company 3DLT and Ahalogy (formerly Pingage), a results-oriented content marketing system.

Students work with the business for a semester, but there are plans to expand it to two semesters in the near future, Carter says. There is no cost for these services for the business.

Student consulting work runs the gamut, from developing marketing plans to business model development and verification to market expansion.

"We'll have students working late, on the weekends or after midnight because they are so invested in these businesses," Carter says.

The business owners aren't the only beneficiaries. Students—most whom are older professionals—win too.

"Businesses bring their knowledge and have practical work experience," Carter says. "We see this as a huge way to differentiate our program. Our students have all these business tools, but in this course, they have to know which tool to pull out of the toolbox."

By Feoshia H. Davis
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