Sunday, February 15, 2009

2 Guys and the Internet?? Maybe your next business...

This past week, I watched a video from the new Dean of the WFU Business schools, Steve Reinemund. It covered a number of topics:
  • The current economy and its effects on WFU and the business schools (undergrad and graduate)
  • The merging of the undergrad and graduate programs and the vision to improve the school's offerings and ranking.
  • Steps the school is taking to ensure that near-term graduating students will receive additional assistance in finding employment.
One area that interested me quite a bit were his comments about creating new business school models that leveraged the breadth of education that WFU offered, both from the liberal arts of the undergrad departments and the joint activities of the business schools. The main idea being that we need to do a better job of bringing together excellent ideas and people, regardless of their field of discipline. It makes alot of sense to me, considering that very few companies compete in markets which are only taught in B-Schools (maybe banking or consulting?).

Over the weekend, I went to a number of social events and the topic of the economy came up with several friends. We made the obligatory guesses at how long the downturn will last and how severe it will ultimately be. In most cases, we determined that many of the jobs being lost will probably not come back, at least not for large corporations. They will find that productivity has outpaced the cost of the employees, or that buying habits will be changed for many years to come because of this recession.

These two things got me thinking. Why doesn't the school create a "2 Guys (or Gals) and the Internet" program to drive entrepreneurship? It could start as an extension to Dr.Mandel's Center for Entrepreneurship, or it could be much smaller and focused, like Mark Cuban's Open Source Stimulus program. And don't limit it to just the Business school. Begin to leverage the goal to tie in the entire set of skills and thoughts of Wake Forest. Or be really bold, and start expanding the program to include other schools from the ACC, maybe leveraging those that have skills that aren't world-class at Wake Forest. Lots of smart engineers at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and NC State. Amazing things happen when you allow yourself to branch out with small ideas.

So where does the "and the Internet" part come into this thinking? Am I requiring that these new ventures be only focused on Internet technology? No way!! I'm suggesting that since there are so many opportunities these days to leverage the interconnectedness of the Internet to source aspects of a business, that this should be a mandate of the program. These "2 person" operations will need to use all the leverage they can to compete, and that's completely possible with today's Internet. Need business cards - link up with Moo. Need to host your business operations - link with Amazon. Need early market research or advertising buzz - link up with Twitter. These are just basic items, but the ability to pay-as-you-need and grow without all the fixed costs (or people) is there for the right idea and motivation.