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New Class Offers Practical Experience

Shidler College of Business at University of Hawaii at Manoa has created a new summer class for students, professionals and any aspiring entrepreneurs with the goal of offering a crash course in the real world of crafting a business.

The class, Entrepreneurship: Business Remodeling & Fundraising, runs during UH’s second summer session from July 7 to Aug. 14. It will cover topics related to developing and fine-tuning a business and securing financial resources.

“It’s taking students through the entire process of working on a project and going out and getting funding,” explains Alice Li Hagan, director of custom executive programs at Shidler’s Executive Education Center.

Wilton Chau and Bee Leng Chua will lead the business course PHOTOS COURTESY UH

Wilton Chau and Bee Leng Chua will lead the business course PHOTOS COURTESY UH

Led by veteran entrepreneur Wilton Chau, who also teaches entrepreneurship at Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Hawaii Business and Entrepreneur Acceleration Mentors (HiBEAM) executive director Bee Leng Chua, the course will discuss theoretical aspects of business planning, venture evaluation, negotiation and creating a proposal.

But beyond that, the course also provides a forum for students to step outside of the textbook and give these things a go in a practical manner. Students will be working with real business proposals — and helping propel these ideas. It also will connect them with angel investors and venture capitalists, with the goal of trying to earn funding.

“Eighty percent will be hands-on experience — how do you come up with the business plan, how do you pitch it, how do you go out and get funding,” Hagan says.

It’s that practical aspect that Hagan feels is the true crux of the course.

“I think, very often, students are exposed to the theory, but entrepreneurs really have to go and do it to experience both the success and failures,” she says. “I think what sets this one apart is this practical aspect — the fact that they work very closely with some of these investors.

“It’s an experience of actually working on a business idea and taking it to the level of where you have investors who would say yay or nay,” she continues.

From there, students must then determine how much investors would contribute, or how they can make the project better.

The course is geared toward students who have graduated college or currently are enrolled in graduate school — and ideally those who have had some background in business or management. But its reach extends beyond that, too: Hagan says that it’s really for anybody who wants to explore what it’s like to start a company of their own.

“I wish I could take the credit for (creating the class), but very often these things come about because I get to meet very interesting people through the university,” Hagan says.

Last fall, Hagan met Chau at a conference, and later, he stopped by UH to talk to students about his work. What struck Hagan was the out-ofthe- box approach Chau had to entrepreneurial education. While many courses may zero in on successful companies, pointing to tech Goliaths like Facebook or Google, they can tend to overlook the lessons that come from failures, or the nuts and bolts of how to garner investor interest.

Chau has been involved in venture development and investment throughout Asia for nearly three decades. He launched a platform to guide students in developing technology ventures, and also currently serves as vice chairman of two other organizations: the Hong Kong Biotechnology Organization and Hong Kong Business Angel Network. Plus, he is an adviser with HiBEAM.

As executive director of HiBEAM, Chua created the Hawaii Tech Asia program, which connects local tech startups with prospective partners or customers in Asia. Previously, Chua also was executive director of the Entrepreneurship Center in the College of Business Administration at Hawaii Pacific University, as well as director at the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Entrepreneurship: Business Remodeling & Fundraising costs $2,406 and is worth three credits. For more information on the course, contact Masa Yamaguchi at my@hawaii.edu or call 956-6587. Registration is open now.