How BYOBiz Works
You are the CEO
In Champlain's BYOBiz program, you are the CEO of your company. As your business develops, you will assemble the team and make the decisions to move your company forward. BYOBiz will help you, but as CEO, you will set the pace and make the decisions.
Is BYOBiz Right for You?
BYOBiz exists to help Champlain students explore entrepreneurship in a hands-on way. We will work with any student with an interest in entrepreneurship. Many students come to BYOBiz with a business that has already been operating at some level, but more often students come with nothing more than idea, an insight about something that interests them, that could potentially become a "big" business—or maybe just a fun business that could make some money. It doesn't matter where the idea came from but if you are truly interested in pursuing the idea, BYOBiz will help. First, we will help you find answers to three important questions:
- Is the idea a good business idea?
- Is it a good business idea for you?
- Is it a good business idea for you - right now?
If you find affirmative answers to these questions you may want to move forward, at a pace of your choosing to develop the business idea into a business. Even if you decide not to pursue that particular idea, you will have gained important skills and insights that will serve you well when the next "big idea" comes along—and it will. We have had students in BYOBiz who over several years may have evaluated numerous ideas before going forward—or not.
Each school year starts with a "strategic audit" of your business. You will answer a series of questions, then meet with the BYOBiz Director to assess where the business is in its development, identify your key objectives for advancing the business in the next year, and determine the specific resources you will need to help you meet those objectives. Then, you—with help—will develop an action plan to get you there. Maybe you will decide you need to do some consumer research, competitive analysis, explore supply chain options, refine product design, find a partner or write a business plan in preparation for raising capital. It's just like the real world because it is the real world.
The other important outcome of the strategic audit is to identify opportunities for classroom integration and to assess your short term objectives for the business in the context of your classroom commitments and workload.
Your Board of Advisors
At some point you may want to create a board of advisors. We call it a board of advisors because it does not have the legal and financial responsibilities of a true board of directors, but your board of advisors can fulfill an important role for an early stage company by providing advice and guidance to the CEO and monitoring the company's progress toward its goals. Many successful ventures have utilized a board of advisors to propel their early development.
We start your board with one member: BYOBiz Program Director Robert Bloch. Bloch is a seasoned business executive and successful entrepreneur. From there, you may add people to your board as you see fit—faculty members, industry experts, and personal mentors. After all, you are the CEO.
An informal BYOBiz network of faculty, local entrepreneurs and business people, lawyers, accountants and financial professionals is available to suggest ways you can best meet the objectives you have set for your company.
Vermont has long been an important small business incubator. As such, a network of nonprofit and governmental agencies and economic development offices has been in place for years and is ready to provide you with valuable guidance and support. Where appropriate, BYOBiz will help you enlist the support of these resources.
How Do I Get Started?
Applications to BYOBiz will be considered on an ongoing basis. Prospective or incoming first-year students and transfers should contact BYOBiz Director Robert Bloch by email or phone to discuss their interest in entrepreneurship, your business idea (if applicable) and to get your questions answered. Although every situation is different, we encourage new students to focus on their studies and getting acclimated to Champlain during their first semester here and to tailor their short term goals for their business venture accordingly.
Students already on campus should schedule a meeting with BYOBiz Director Robert Bloch to discuss their goals and plans for their business and to develop a course of action.
Facilities and programming supporting student entrepreneurs include:
- Personalized, proactive mentoring from BYOBiz staff and associated faculty plus access to community leaders and entrepreneurs
- A full slate of business related courses in the Stiller School of Business, including MGT 123, an innovative course for non business majors providing an introduction to business and entrepreneurship. Some prerequisites may apply
- Incubator space: BYOBiz operates a small incubator space, which, if you qualify, can provide on campus office and meeting space and office services (printer, company address and mail delivery, etc.) for your business
- On-campus management seminars, workshops and fun educational events, such as The Elevator Pitch Competition
- Speaking from Experience: A year long lecture series featuring prominent entrepreneurs, business executives and others discussing topics important to entrepreneurs who are starting and growing a business
- College credit: through internship opportunities and independent study, you can earn college credit for taking your enterprise to a higher level and successfully dealing with key business challenges.
- Assistance gaining access to capital resources, private investors and local service providers
- Assistance accessing Vermont and federal resources such as VTSBDC, Community & Economic Development Office (City of Burlington), VT Dept. of Economic Development, and Small Business Administration (SBA).
- Social events and networking
We believe that successful entrepreneurship takes ability, passion and commitment. Our goal is to help all students develop these qualities that are necessary for success as entrepreneurs. In concert with your chosen academic program, BYOBiz will help students build the foundation for their entrepreneurial careers, while hands-on mentorship will help them gain the business know-how they need to make their ideas work. The program is designed to allow students to control their commitment based on their academic workload.