I recently toured the GSB's new Stanford Venture Studio, which opened this past summer. Created by the GSB's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the Venture Studio is a place for graduate students across Stanford University to practice the entrepreneurial skills and concepts they are learning in the classroom. Early-stage entrepreneurs often complain of isolation, and the Venture Studio provides an instant community where teams can share skills, test ideas, and get feedback and inspiration. In addition to peer-to-peer interaction among the teams, the Venture Studio offers practical workshops, peer feedback sessions known as Start-up Mob, small-group Q&A with company founders, one-on-one advisory sessions, and practice pitch sessions. The Studio serves as both a hub for the entrepreneurial community to participate in events open to the entire student body and as a dedicated workspace for graduate student-led teams from any school at Stanford. There is an application process to use the Studio, and student teams are then given 24/7 key card access. The Venture Studio is not an incubator; it does not take an equity stake in return for services and does not accept teams who are currently selling products or services.
During the summer, 17 multidisciplinary teams (about 50 students) worked on ventures spanning multiple sectors, including healthcare, education, hospitality and tourism, media and entertainment, financial services, big data, real estate, consumer products and service, energy, and agriculture. Katie Fifer '13, an entrepreneurial student who worked in the Studio this summer, commented, "I've learned a tremendous amount not only about tactical things (user interface design, SEO, etc.), but also, more importantly, about managing team dynamics. We're all figuring out day-to-day how we build our teams and all the most interesting challenges come from trying to get those teams to operate at a high level. I know I'm learning far more because I'm surrounded by people trying to figure out the same things."
Besides all the amazing projects going on in the Studio, what also amazed me was how quickly this space was created. The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies started working on the concept last spring, and within a couple of months, a pilot of the Studio was launched. But that's pretty much how things work around here.