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Venture Year – A Gap Year Program in Entrepreneurship or Private Equity

With much uncertainly on the university campus, students are unsure if they will have to pause midstream this Autumn, leave campus and go online again. They also fear falling ill from the virus as the incidents of large gatherings in State College will increase along with day-to-day social contact with others. Furthermore, students are unsure if their “face-to-face teaching” professors will stick with the teaching through the coming year, or even turn up for it in the first place. For these reasons, many students are considering taking gap years (leave of absences or LoAs) for a year or even longer. However, unlike in usual times where a gap year could entail travel (in the flesh), cultural immersion, jobs, internships, and volunteer service opportunities, today’s gap year choices are extremely limited, leaving students in limbo. The Covid-19 crisis has changed the international landscape for gap / LoA year opportunities drastically.

Enter the Student Ventures “Venture Year”, an entrepreneurship gap year experience. Launching this autumn, this structured experiential learning program focuses on providing students know-how and skills in business, entrepreneurship, and technology for the digital age. The program is delivered 100% online, allowing for students to socially distance, create and work from wherever they are located on the globe. With a computer, mobile phone, and internet access, students can connect and participate in the program, even while roaming and traveling on their own, should travel possibilities open for them over the next year.

Build a Company or Social Enterprise + Acquire Digital Skills + Learn a Language + Trot the Globe Virtually

What makes the Student Ventures gap year opportunities so compelling, however, is the chance for tangible outputs – real products, services, businesses, and even social enterprise organizations. Participants are guided through the process of taking an idea to market and creating of a new venture (usually in teams). Participants also learn digital skills such as basic software development and programming, design, social media marketing and networking. Each program has a language requirement for either the learning of a new language or the continuation of a current one. Finally, paticipants will learn about the entrepreneurial ecosystems and landscapes of regions around the world, and even beyond our globe as well. Student Ventures seeks to develop global entrepreneurs. It believes that acquiring digital skills and entrepreneurial know-how will bring marketable, usable skills to student-participants that they will be able to use the rest of their lives.

Student Ventures, which is “all about student entrepreneurship”, has partnered with GeeLearn Ltd., a specialized eLearning design and delivery company headquartered in Scotland. Together they have developed a series of unique programs to suit the needs of todays “Gappers” at the undergraduate, postgraduate, and professional student levels. The “Venture Year” spans the typical academic calendar year; and the “Venture Semester” is a 4-month experience. Additional postgraduate (Masters, MBA, Law and PhD student) programs such as the “Seed Fund Accelerator” are planned as well. This program will take students through the process of raising a private equity fund for the purpose of acquiring an existing operating business.

The Student Ventures leadership team are experienced “Gappers” themselves. The Clouser team is led by a university-level entrepreneurship and business professor who has taught at top global universities such as Cornell, Stanford, and Edinburgh. In addition, Michael Clouser, also known as the Academic Entrepreneur, has a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley (Dot Edu Ventures). His roles as an incubator cofounder (TechCube), miniconglomerate CEO (Student Agencies Incorporated), accelerator director and coordinator of transatlantic university partnership (The Edinburgh-Stanford Link) has qualified him with over 20 years of experience in the student entrepreneurship space. Max Clouser, who played junior ice hockey and gained hospitality experience during his gap years, is a Cornell University undergraduate student. He is a Scout-Journalist for Student Ventures, and serves as the President for the entrepreneurship club, known as the E-Club.

Recent research has shown that approximately 19% of incoming university students are considering a gap year; and that 25% or more of current undergraduate students may take a leave of absence, depending on how universities and colleges return to campus this autumn, and if they change their plans at the last minute. Already some changed their minds and gone virtual. The Daily Princetonian reported that in a recent survey “63.4 percent of student respondents said they would seriously consider taking a leave of absence or a gap year if the fall semester were held remotely and online”. A more recent survey of Yale students published in the Yale News found that 52% of students will “likely or definitely” take a year off if the university goes fully online in the Autumn; and if the university goes to a hybrid model, 26% will “likely or definitely”embark on a gap year. This figure or something close to it may represent the sentiment in not only the USA, but Europe as well if not across the globe.

Professional students such as MBAs and Law students are less surveyed, but a recent Poets and Quants article pointed to data released by the Harvard Business School that showed this year’s matriculating class will be about 200 less in size than average, which is 930. This represents a 22% deferral rate. Many students took up Harvard’s deferment offer and delayed their start by one or even two years. The Leave of Absence percentage is yet to be determined, but may be in the 20’s as international students take a break for a year or two. These figures are expected across all MBA programs, in another recent Poets and Quants article, the publication found that up to 93% of MBA programs are experiencing hiring freezes from recruiters.

Once this information is more widely disseminated, the quantity of expected deferrals and leave of absences upon MBA students will rise even higher as the light at the end of the tunnel diminishes, and many will choose to wait until embarking on a two-year commitment and the financial investment that comes with it. In yet another Poets and Quants article, the uncertainty of international students being able to attend or even provided a deferral option was in question, signaling that MBA and other postgraduate programs across the globe may see a large increase in the number of deferrals and leave of absences amongst masters and PhD level students. Likewise, In a recent reunion weekend conference call, the Cornell Law School was expecting few deferrals from domestic students; however, up to 15% of the incoming class is international, and may not be able to make it back into the Country for various reasons to attend classes. The number of students who may seek gap year experiences will likely increase greatly, but the availability of programs will be limited by travel and social distancing limitations. Therefore a rise in the number of students choosing virtual experience will occur over the next year or two.

About Student Ventures

Student Ventures is all about student-led startups from academic institutions all over the world. The team at StudVent perceives that while there is a growing interest and an increase in resources for student entrepreneurship on campuses around the globe, it remains hard to find and learn more about the numerous actual student startup companies founded in the dorm rooms, boot camps, hackathons, accelerators, and incubators at universities. We believe that there is much to be gained by unearthing the thousands of student startups that abound on our campuses. We seek to build awareness of student-started companies by giving them a platform to tell the world what they are doing and what they need to grow their companies. Our mission also entails bringing resources, customers, team members and partners to these student-founded companies. We cover student startups at the undergraduate, masters, MBA, PhD and Post-doc levels from higher educational institutions from around the globe.

About the Student Ventures Academy and its Gap Year Programs

Student Ventures is offering Entrepreneurship Gap Year or “Venture Year” programs of different lengths and levels. Our Venture Years are 100% virtual immersion programs, and do not require in-person attendance. We mix skill development in technology, digital media, entrepreneurship, marketing, and business networking to deliver a robust program where students will start real new businesses. Our interactive program is characterized by a cohort model and is available to learners anywhere in the world. It’s led by a university entrepreneurship and business professor who is an academic entrepreneur and a former venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

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