The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Pre-Flight program allows Vanderbilt students, staff to explore entrepreneurial ventures


Select students, faculty and staff with entrepreneurial plans for a business idea now have a course directed at helping them turn their work into reality.

The Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s new Innovation Center, is hosting 40 people for a seven week course focused on providing the education necessary to run a startup company. The new program is an offshoot of an existing 12 week course that was available to business professionals but not to students. The Nashville Entrepreneur Center is responsible for running the program, including the content of each class.

Peter Rousos, the Director of Economic and New Venture Development of the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, helped bring this program to campus. The CTTC was one of the sponsors, along with the Wond’ry.

“So, what the Pre-Flight program does is to run you through a lot of things that you need to know, and a lot of questions you need to ask,” Rousos said. “It doesn’t necessarily answer the questions for you, but it does tell you what questions you ought to be asking.”

Since a spot in the program was in such high demand, an application process helped determine who would be admitted into it. The course leaders looked for the depth of thought that went into the business ideas but focused especially on how well each applicant expressed his or her project on the application.

The goal over the next two months will be to provide the participants with the proper knowledge of the steps that need to be taken when starting up a business venture. That includes everything from navigating through the patent process to pitching the idea to potential investors.

Each two hour Wednesday class will run much like any other one held at Vanderbilt. There will be lectures and interactive aspects, including discussions to help foster dialogue between people with different backgrounds and experience. This course provides the opportunity for undergraduate students to mingle with graduate students, faculty members and other professionals. In this setting, there aren’t the traditional hierarchies: everybody is going through the same learning process, regardless of their level of education or experience.

“It will create interactions among people who didn’t interact before and will promote successful entrepreneurs because, as with so many things today, endeavors are interdisciplinary more than they have ever been in the past,” Rousos said, pointing out how the Wond’ry helps foster this networking.

The seventh and final class will be a key difference from the Nashville Entrepreneurial Center’s twelve week program. During that time, staffers from the CTTC will teach the class about what steps need to be taken when working with Vanderbilt technology, using funding from the federal government and/or creating products that are regulated by the government.

While the project ideas most people have cover a wide range of disciplines, most of them are some type of technology business. However, Rousos points out that the focus isn’t really on the technology or the product here because that’s only one part of the entrepreneurial process.

“We have people at Vanderbilt who have started and operated successful technology businesses. The reason their businesses were successful is not only because of the intellectual property that represents this technology but that the business executed its business plan effectively,” Rousos said. “That’s what the Pre-Flight Program helps participants to do — to develop a successful execution plan.”

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