5 questions with… economics, entrepreneurial studies professor Scott Shane

Scott ShaneScott Shane, the A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of economics, started teaching at Case Western Reserve University 12 years ago. At that time, entrepreneurship was taught in a classroom with textbooks; there was no think[ box ], Blackstone LaunchPad or IP Venture Clinic.

Fast-forward to 2015, and Northeast Ohio is in the midst of an entrepreneurial boom, with the university at the forefront.

Over the last year, construction began on the seven-story, $35 million think[ box ] project; student Felipe Gomez del Campo V, founder of FCG Plasma, was recognized by the White House and President Barack Obama; and student entrepreneurs have won more than $200,000 in competitions—just to name a few examples of startup success.

This fall, the university will continue to build on its momentum by offering a new, late addition class taught by Shane: Entrepreneurial Finance (ENTP 310).

The class will bring prominent entrepreneurial finance experts from London, New York and Silicon Valley to CWRU—in person or virtually—to speak to students about financing new businesses.

“Each expert takes a different aspect of financing new businesses,” Shane said. “For instance, how does equity crowdfunding work? How do investors value seed stage businesses? How do experts structure a deal for a young company?”

Geared toward real-life entrepreneurial finance activities, class assignments include pitching business plans through PITCH U, the new Burton D. Morgan Foundation competitions that will begin in the fall; attending an Arch Angel meeting to see actual entrepreneurs seek funding; and performing due diligence on behalf of the North Coast Angel Fund.

“What students were missing from previous classroom experiences was seeing how actual investors think about financing new businesses. That’s important if you are a serious entrepreneur who is launching a company,” Shane said. “This class will give students the knowledge and contacts that they need to raise capital for their own businesses.”

The PITCH U aspect of the class is something Shane brought to campus. As the inaugural Research Fellow at the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Shane has been working with the foundation to study how to improve entrepreneurs’ efforts to pitch investors. Part of that study involves four elevator-pitch competitions on college campuses this fall that offer students an opportunity to win $2,500 in prize money. The Oct. 3 competition takes place here at Case Western Reserve.

With the support of university President Barbara R. Snyder, Provost William “Bud” Baeslack and Weatherhead School Dean Robert Widing, Shane is hard at work putting in place additional elements to get student entrepreneurs the financing they need to start companies.

The new entrepreneurial finance class, scheduled for fall term, will take place Mondays and Wednesdays, from 3-4:15 pm. in Kelvin Smith Library’s telepresence room. Undergraduate students of all majors are encouraged to register for the class on SIS. The course has no prerequisites and is open to any student interested in raising money for a business.

“The class is practical for entrepreneurs,” Shane said. “They already have ideas; now they have the opportunity to work on the business aspects.”

Read more about Shane in this week’s five questions.

1. What technology do you think we should have, but don’t…yet?

I’m really sick of air travel, so I’d love to have the ability to teleport.

2. What was the most challenging part of your education?

Definitely passing my comprehensive exams as a doctoral student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania because I failed my first time taking them.

3. What popular icon do you most identify with? Why?

Louis Pasteur. I like his philosophy and famous statement: “In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.”

4. If you could live in any other time period, which would it be?

I would live in Italy sometime during its renaissance (14th to 16th century).

5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?

The student body. They are the greatest group of students I’ve ever taught anywhere.