For those of you who don’t know, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies (ELS) department has many different classes to cater to different types of students. There are classes for marketing, finance, and leadership in general; however, most people get to know ELS via ELS 101, Entrepreneurship and Business Planning. What few students know is that the ELS department offers another class called ELS 101-03. This isn’t simply a different section of their into class: ELS 101-03 is a class aimed for graduate students.
While undergrad students are required to get permission from the professor teaching the class (Josh Wiesman during Fall 2014), ELS 101-03 is different from any other class I’ve ever taken at Tufts. The class is has a very free-flowing attitude, as students simply move through the materials by asking questions and having their questions challenged by Prof. Wiesman. While this may sound a bit cliché, the class is structured in such a way that students also get to learn skills that can help them in the real world. Assignments such as perfecting a 30 second elevator pitch about what a student can bring to any table is crucial to ELS 101-03.
One of the overarching themes of the class is the group project. People are assigned to groups randomly, and what makes the group project even more interesting is the fact that by the end of the semester, each group has to create a pitch deck, have their “CEO” present the idea, and have an “X-factor.” Prof. Wiesman doesn’t want the groups to make generic 20 page business plans, but rather modern pitch decks, with an X-factor, which shows that the groups are genuinely interested in their idea.
However, what is most valuable about this class are the students who are in it. Even though this is a class intended for graduate students, most students who are currently taking it are undergrad students with a genuine desire to learn about and break into the startup world, whether they are sophomores trying to run their own startup, or seniors wanting to learn as many useful skills as they can before they graduate.
What’s great about this situation is that everyone who is in the class is there because they want to be there, and the results of this are huge: everyone has something valuable to add to the table, and everyone is genuinely interested in what everyone else is doing. It is because of this that I would recommend anyone who is genuinely interested in working for a startup, genuinely interested in meeting incredibly initiated people, or genuinely wants to put in a lot of hard work to come up with a startup idea in an academic setting, to take ELS 101-03.