Students collaborate on a project while receiving feedback from a professor.

Pitch Week sparks innovation in MGMT 3015

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

By Claire Lanahan, '27 BSB


By the fourth week of MGMT 3015: Intro to Entrepreneurship, the students are ready to pitch.

MGMT 3015 taps into students' creative nature as they learn how to foster entrepreneurial habits and hone problem solving skills. The course focuses on the early stages of start-up companies, and is open to both Carlson School students and students from other UMN-Twin Cities colleges.

The students spend the first four weeks of the course learning about what it means to be an entrepreneur. They develop skills in thinking critically and creatively. Using “idea journals,” students jot down problems they personally experience as well as those they observe around them. The course requires students to be in an entrepreneurial mindset not just during class time, but while going about their daily lives. The ideation phase leads up to finalizing and developing their most inspiring and compelling venture ideas.

Professor Sandy Yu, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship department, has been teaching MGMT 3015 since 2018. While “the core of the class hasn't changed,” the class is constantly evolving with the world. “There are always new technologies and new problems to be solved.”

The biggest indication of this fast-paced evolution of the markets was how quickly the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we knew it. 

“COVID was definitely a big shock to how students think about interactions between customers,” Yu said. “The pandemic widened the possibility of the products they pitch."

After a couple of weeks of brainstorming, students create a Concept Statement. They combine their creative passions with the sharp skills of business to persuade their classmates to “invest” in their ideas.

Pitch Week challenges students to convey why their idea is something that others should believe in and is one of Yu’s favorite weeks of the course.

“The pitch is a very defined format: 90 seconds, give me the most important things that as an investor and as a potential user I need to know,” Yu said. “The pitch is really a practice on persuading the audience to buy into your idea. It pushes the students to focus on just the most important things that the audience should take away.”

This course, and the skills gained from Pitch Week, are valuable even if a student never launches or works for a start-up.

“Even if you don't start a company, you will be in a position where you need to convince a teammate or a manager to get on board with a project,” Yu said.

Based on the 90-second pitch, students vote on which ideas and presentations were most compelling. These projects will be worked on in teams for the rest of the semester, so students can learn about the next steps in preparing to launch a company.

The initial excitement and curiosity that grows from the pitch engages the students in the ventures they work on and drives the project's visions forward. All while students gain firsthand experience with working on a startup, a team, and getting a taste of entrepreneurship.