Coming into Fuqua, I had many ideas about how to spend my two years. One of them was to pursue entrepreneurship, and business school has helped me tremendously in that regard. There are a lot of avenues to explore at Duke and Fuqua that help strengthen your entrepreneurial experience, so your path just depends on your interests and goals. Here are a few examples.
You can enroll in the New Ventures—a course within the Program for Entrepreneurs—where you work with a faculty advisor on your startup idea. There is the Mentored Study program where you work with a real startup or early-stage firm. There is Fuqua on Board where you sit on the board of a Durham-based organization and help it devise strategies.
During my first year, I participated in the Prodigy Startup Challenge. Many prospective students, especially international ones, are probably aware of Prodigy Finance. They provide third party loans toward tuition, something that I myself am a beneficiary of.
The inaugural challenge was organized in New York, and it was quite an experience. My team was comprised of myself and two other first-year students, Astha and Sailesh. We were selected for the final round out of a considerable number of submissions, and the education we had at Fuqua leading up to the competition played a significant role in our success.
The three of us had been working on a socially viable enterprise targeting developing economies such as India. Our idea was to provide additional income to cycle rickshaw (pedicab) drivers by making the rickshaws an advertisement medium. We worked along with Fuqua’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) on various aspects of our idea including financial analysis, market viability, and a practical approach to seeing it through to fruition. If you talk to a successful entrepreneur, you know that ideas are a dime a dozen—it’s the implementation and sales that matter. CEI has helped us and many others to make our visions reality.
The Fuqua Brand
Apart from these formal entrepreneurial programs, what I have learned is that the Duke and Fuqua brand name is the key that opens a lot of doors. As you might already know or come to know, relationships and access are two things that don’t come easy. Fuqua has an established name and alumni everywhere. It has helped me more than I could have imagined.
If you are looking for a place where you can strengthen your entrepreneurial experience, gain crucial know-how, and build a valuable network, look no further than Fuqua. Getting the support to launch your idea is not so elusive here if you are ready to work hard.