Grant will allow entrepreneurs to gain free insight from Kelley MBA students

INDIANAPOLIS – The Kelley School of Business at IUPUI and Indianapolis-based company The Startup Ladies are beginning a new partnership that will connect local entrepreneurs with Kelley Evening MBA students. 

Evening MBA students will use a grant from the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council to conduct customer development research for entrepreneurs working to build a scalable company, providing insight that typically would cost an entrepreneur thousands of dollars. This includes interviewing future potential customers to understand what they want, what they need and what they’re willing to pay for.

“Many companies fail because they don’t do this research: Determining if the market truly needs what your company believes they want,” explained Kristen Cooper, The Startup Ladies CEO and founder. “One of the reasons The Startup Ladies exists is to help eliminate barriers for women who are first-time business owners. This new partnership provides an additional resource that allows entrepreneurs to save time and money, which will help them go to market faster. It also helps these women entrepreneurs better understand their customer needs and business model.”

This new partnership provides an additional resource that allows entrepreneurs to save time and money, which will help them go to market faster.

Kristen Cooper, The Startup Ladies

The Startup Ladies mission is to identify, educate, connect and increase investment in women entrepreneurs starting up and scaling businesses.

“This partnership will be mutually beneficial for our students and the businesses in the Startup Ladies community,” said Kim Saxton, clinical associate professor of marketing at the Kelley School. “Our MBA students will have the chance to work with entrepreneurs to gain hands-on experience in marketing, specifically focused on early customer development research. Our students will also have access to the company’s programming, including Startup Study Halls and monthly meet-ups.”

Saxton serves on The Startup Ladies Advisory Board and as an executive mentor for several of The Startup Ladies events, known as Startup Study Halls, which provide structure and accountability to move an idea forward.

“Women as founders have additional or different needs than their male counterparts, and The Startup Ladies works to address them,” added Saxton. “For example, the importance of understanding if the hopeful entrepreneur is looking to start a small or lifestyle business, versus a scalable business that can be expanded beyond the local community or a single store to a larger commercial entity. Moreover, women struggle to obtain outside funding at the same level as men. This kind of rigorous market research to validate market interest will make these women-founded ventures more fundable to local investors.”

Our MBA students will have the chance to work with entrepreneurs to gain hands-on experience in marketing, specifically focused on early customer development research.

Kim Saxton, clinical associate professor of marketing

For the past decade, Evening MBA students enrolled in the Discovery, Innovation and Venture Enterprise (DIVE) have provided hands-on consulting services to local startups working to help grow a new business. This new program will provide another connection between Kelley students at IUPUI and local entrepreneurs.

New ventures can apply now to be part of this program through The Startup Ladies. Entrepreneurs will pitch their projects to MBA students in November 2017. Projects begin December 2017 and continue through the spring of 2018.

About the IU Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council
The IU Women's Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC) was convened by the Indiana University Foundation Board of Directors in 2010. The council's mission is to lead efforts that inspire women to give of their time, talent and resources to Indiana University and to develop women leaders in philanthropy. The WPLC awards grants on an annual cycle to students, faculty, and staff on all IU campuses, whose proposals advance the work of IU in areas that align with For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign. Learn more about the WPLC grants program here.

About the IU Foundation
Founded in 1936, the Indiana University Foundation maximizes private support for Indiana University by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses and units across the university. Today, the IU Foundation oversees one of the largest public university endowments in the country, with a market value in excess of $2 billion. Learn more about the IU Foundation here.

About the Kelley School of Business on the IUPUI campus
The Indiana University Kelley School of Business has been a leader in American business education for more than 95 years. With nearly 110,000 living alumni and an enrollment exceeding 10,500 students across two campuses and online, the Kelley School is among the premier business schools in the country. The Kelley School at IUPUI is home to a full-time undergraduate program and four graduate programs, including master’s programs in accounting and taxation, the Business of Medicine Physician MBA and the Evening MBA, which is ranked 11th in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Learn more here.