Betaspring model is paying dividends on Bryant campus
THINKING AHEAD: Sandra Potter, director of the global entrepreneurship program at Bryant University and Bryant Ventures adviser, says the program was founded because students need a chance to learn the basics of how to think about innovation.
COURTESY BRYANT UNIVERSITY
By Patricia Daddona PBN Staff Writer
In 2012, Sandra Potter founded Bryant Ventures – originally called Entrepreneurs on Campus – an entrepreneurial component of the global entrepreneurship program at Bryant University. She became director of the global program in February 2013.
While not yet available for academic credit, participation in Bryant Ventures is high and student startups are emerging from an accelerator modeled on Betaspring.
PBN: What is the global entrepreneurship program?
POTTER: The program was founded in 2009 for two reasons. One was [that] students need a chance to learn the basics of how to think about innovation, so the program coursework allows them to get some time learning about the structure of how to think about opportunities, evaluate and seize them. In addition, they need a way to practice, which is what Bryant Ventures is about. Bryant as a university is committed to fostering a culture on campus of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. Bryant has been entrepreneurial since its inception 150 years.
PBN: How is the global entrepreneurship program connected to Bryant Ventures?
POTTER: Bryant Ventures was started to allow anyone on campus regardless of what they’re majoring or minoring in to have a chance to pursue a dream to start a company. It’s important if you have an entrepreneurship program at a university that you also have a way for students to practice their skills. You can’t read about being an entrepreneur; you have to try it. You have to get out there and swing at the ball.
PBN: How has your own experience with startups informed the teaching and advising of students in entrepreneurship?
POTTER: My entire teaching team is a team of practitioners. We all come from what’s called the real world outside of academia. So, in addition to having the academic credentials to teach we are also entrepreneurs ourselves, so we can bring the war stories from the trenches right into the classroom to reinforce lessons.