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Inspiring MBA Students to be Innovators

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Jeff Haessler

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Imagine a mobile app that shows you where all the dog-friendly restaurants, bars, bookstores and grocery stores are located around town.

It doesn’t exist yet, but if Denver MBA student Emily Scott Long can make her business idea a reality, there soon will be an app that can do all that plus connect you with other dog owners. She calls her app Tula.

“If you meet someone at the dog park, it’s really common that you learn the dog’s name, but you don’t necessarily learn the person’s name. So all the dogs who are on Tula can have a profile, and you can connect in that way or maybe start a friendship that way. Or just have your dogs be pals,” Long explains.

She and other Daniels College of Business MBA students developed ideas for start-ups as part of the Enterprise Challenge, one of four core challenges students tackle over the course of the 20-month Denver MBA program. Students are split into teams of five and are given the task of starting their own business. They develop a business plan over ten weeks and incorporate all the things they’re learning with an entrepreneurial mindset. Then those ideas are developed into a business idea.

“We have three veterans on my team, so we really wanted to incorporate some of the really neat experiences that we had in the military,” says MBA student Daniel Kelin of his team’s proposed enterprise. “It’s called BGW. That stands for the big green weenie. And in the military, BGW is a colloquialism for overcoming uncertainty. We want to teach teams and leaders to be more resilient, to communicate better, to have a higher emotional I.Q. to get the job done.”

Dan Baack, assistant dean at the Daniels College and director for the MBA program, sees the Enterprise Challenge at Daniels as part of Denver’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture

“Denver is a hub for entrepreneurship, it’s the fastest growing city in the country. There’s an incredible amount of activity here,” he says. It’s so dynamic, in fact, that Forbes Magazine ranks Denver as No. 2 in the nation for the best place to launch a startup.

In the coming months, Denver MBA students will continue their challenge-based education, in tandem with integrated learning modules and customized leadership development. Next up is the Social Good Challenge in the winter quarter, followed by the Corporate Challenge in the spring quarter and finally the Global Challenge for fall and winter of next year.