The Hatchery (Business Planning for New Enterprises) started in 1997, making it the oldest entrepreneurship course in the United States. Offered both semesters, it is open to students from all schools and levels.

From the University bulletin:
In this course, student teams pursue their own business idea or support community entrepreneurs by researching, writing, and pitching business plans for new commercial or social ventures. Enrolled students can recruit a team to work on their own business idea, or can join a team working on another’s idea. Outside entrepreneurs and scientific researchers wishing to recruit student teams must apply in advance to be considered for student selection. Most of the work is done outside the classroom with the support of mentors, advisors and the instructor. Classes are held once per week for the first half of the semester. Workshops and rehearsals are required in the second part of the term. Students make final presentations to a panel of outside judges including venture capitalists, angel investors, entrepreneurs and people involved with early stage ventures. Prerequisites: Introduction to Entrepreneurship (MGT 421 or MGT 521), Social Entrepreneurship (MGT 500T or S-50-5060) or permission of the instructor. Same as B63 524.

Class Format:

Students form teams around a commercial or social venture idea proposed by a student or community entrepreneur. The deliverables for the course include two presentations to a panel of judges and a complete business plan. The deliverables in the course are similar to the deliverables in the center’s business plan competitions and can be a valuable first step toward competition and funding for a new venture.

Shaping the Plan
Once the team has been formed, the entrepreneur meets with the students and gives them background on the product, idea, and current status. For the remainder of the semester, the entrepreneur needs to be available to answer the team’s questions and requests. The more information provided about the idea, the better the final product will be. The students are a self-directed consulting team. They are not interns and will not report at set times for work. As consultants, their goal is to develop a plan for the venture’s success. The team will deliver a written plan for the venture, the assumptions for its future, financial and other details.

Resources and Expertise
Students can access a variety of high-level experts. Each team receives guidance from Washington University faculty and mentors and advisors from the community. Throughout the semester, students may attend a series of workshops and meet with various practitioners and faculty to help them prepare the final plan.

Investor and Competition Pitches
At both the midterm and the end of the semester, teams present their work to a group of judges including faculty, experienced entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, philanthropists, funding agencies, or other experts. Teams are eligible to apply for funding for their venture either through Skandalaris or community business plan competitions, but are not required to do so as a part of the course.

Community Entrepreneurs are Welcome!

Community entrepreneurs may apply for a Hatchery team by emailing Jessica (Stanko) Weldon, jessica.weldon@wustl.edu, with a complete description of the venture idea, as well as the current status of the venture and what you hope to get out of a student team. If the idea is accepted, the community entrepreneur attends the first class of the semester to pitch their venture to the students and participates in the networking reception to talk to students and potentially form a student team. If a team is formed, the fee for a community entrepreneur in a commercial venture to participate is $3,000. There is no fee for not-for-profit entities. Each student is expected to work a minimum of 150 hours, including classroom instruction. At the end of the course, the entrepreneur has a plan that represents the students’ best estimate of what the future can hold for his or her venture. Final deliverables may include any of the following, depending on which type of project the students are working on:

  • Executive Summary
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Financial Projections for 3 – 5 years
  • Capital Needs and Uses
  • Market Analysis
  • Operations Plan
  • Management Team
  • Social Return Assessment
  • Intellectual Property
  • Investor Presentation