SOM builds new curriculum

Kyle Jensen, the new Director of Entrepreneurial Programs, is also a mentor at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.
Kyle Jensen, the new Director of Entrepreneurial Programs, is also a mentor at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

The School of Management is setting its sights on teaching entrepreneurship starting next fall.

The SOM is launching a formal Entrepreneurship Program, which will expand the current course offerings in the field of entrepreneurship. The program will be structured and designed by its newly appointed director, Kyle Jensen, a mentor at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Jensen said he plans for the courses to be open to the entire Yale community.

“When you look at the current economy it is rare that our students will go on to work at [a single company] for 50 years,” he said. “They will likely have to be entrepreneurs, change jobs a couple of times, even start their own activity.”

The Entrepreneurship Program at SOM will ideally comprise eight to 10 courses in a variety of subjects, Jensen said. Examples include courses on medical ventures, entrepreneurial finance and communications for entrepreneurs, which includes business plans, pitching and social media strategies.

SOM Associate Dean Anjani Jain said that although the school has offered some classes related to starting businesses, they lack a comprehensive program aimed at preparing students for all aspects of entrepreneurship. The new offerings will build upon the solid foundation provided by the MBA integrated core curriculum, he said.

Startup companies have the potential for global expansion, so these new courses coincide with SOM’s mission to be a global business school, Jensen said. Furthermore, because entrepreneurship draws on interdisciplinary skills, the new courses will help integrate SOM with the rest of Yale, he added. SOM Dean Edward Snyder added that attracting students from other parts of the University is a chief aim of the program.

“One of our hopes is to have these classes be open to the students in the sister professional schools and really draw people into Evans Hall,” he said.

The school has raised seven million dollars for the program, but that they are still working towards their goal of 12 million, Snyder said. SOM will also be hiring new faculty for the program, he added.

Jensen said that teaching entrepreneurship successfully requires experiential-based, practical leaning, so the program may bring back Yale graduates who are successful entrepreneurs to teach classes part-time.

SOM professor Barry Nalebuff, who founded Honest Tea, said that learning entrepreneurial skills is important for postgraduate careers.

“The difference is that at Yale you can get nine out of 10 things rights and get an A, but in entrepreneurship the one thing that you get wrong can kill you,” Nalebuff said. “All of this can be taught — you can go out and do it and lose a lot of money and time and wish you had learnt it ahead of time.”

The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute will have an advisory role in developing the program, in addition to providing non-curricular resources to complement the SOM’s strong curricular basis, Jensen said.

James Boyle, Managing Director of the YEI, said the institute has gone from a couple dozen teams of aspiring entrepreneurs to over 80 in only three years.

“It’s really high time that students have a robust curriculum before they start their own ventures,” Boyle said.

David Spett ’14, who serves as academic chair of the SOM student government, said that some students requested more support for entrepreneurship and more coursework on innovation. However, he said this program is not a top-priority issue for SOM students.

“While it certainly seems like a good idea at face value, we don’t believe it was at the top of the list of most students’ academic concerns,” he said.

The Yale School of Management is located at 165 Whitney Ave.

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