Earning Curve

Entrepreneurship programs at universities nationwide have capital-hungry business owners heading back to school.

If you're a small-business owner with most of your growth ahead of you, one place you may want to go to finance your expansion is back to school. At least that's the advice of Mark Rice, professor of entrepreneurship at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (RPI) Lally School of Management and Technology in Troy, New York.

Rice, whose staid title belies his contribution to making Rensselaer one of the powerhouse entrepreneurship schools in the country, has seen the same scenario happen over and over again. Young growth companies tap into the activity surrounding a university and find themselves awash in the kinds of resources--capital included--that help turn great ideas into great companies.

"Creating an environment where companies can thrive requires an important underlying fabric," Rice says. This fabric consists of an active angel network, a source of technology or new business ideas, a large number of entrepreneurs, a base of professionals--such as lawyers, bankers, accountants and marketing consultants--that understand entrepreneurial companies and are prepared to assist them, and, finally, a state or local government that maintains a pro-business stance.

Rice says universities are uniquely qualified to promote and integrate these diverse elements, and as a result, they're havens for entrepreneurs seeking capital as well as the technical resources that are often part of a great success story.

David R. Evanson's newest book about raising capital is called Where to Go When the Bank Says No: Alternatives for Financing Your Business (Bloomberg Press). Call (800) 233-4830 to order. Art Beroff, a principal of Beroff Associates in Howard Beach, New York, helps companies raise capital and go public.

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This article was originally published in the December 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Earning Curve.

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