The always stunning view from Mt Cardigan - pictured are Mts. Moose, Holt's Ledge, Winslow Ledge, and Smarts
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A view of a Dartmouth business classroom with an open notebook and plate of fruit.

What if you could hear from successful entrepreneurs with decades of experience? What if you could acquire business skills ranging from spreadsheet analytics to marketing strategy? What if you could bring your idea to life with a series of weekly pitches, each building upon the last and forcing you to dig deeper into your idea?

Well, that's what I've been doing over the last four weeks as a part of TuckLab Entrepreneurship, a program offered as a collaboration between the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship (a resource for undergraduates) and the Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth's business graduate school). It's not a class but a certificate program. Don't count it out—TuckLab involved about as much work as an additional class. I've found it to be quite a rewarding experience thus far. 

Logistically, the program takes place over five weeks—beginning halfway into a term—on the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are used for workshops and sessions for the first two weeks. After that, only Sundays are used. At the very start, participants are asked to submit potential business ideas (preferably ideas that could be viable enough to continue in the future). I worked up the courage to write my idea on the shared spreadsheet and give a one-minute pitch before team formation—I ended up with an awesome team! To avoid getting too specific with our idea, our team is developing a customizable running shoe with modular components for enhanced durability (it turns out most of my team were runners and fit the proposed company well!). 

So, what happens during a TuckLab session? You show up, receive a delicious lunch catered by the Hanover Inn (a nice hotel/restaurant in town), and give your pitch for the day's challenge. The whole goal with TuckLab is to bring you through the entrepreneurial process, so my team had to apply interesting jargon like "lean canvas" and "unique value value proposition" to our running shoe concept. Then, you learn the necessary information for the following week's pitch. 

The learning started with Tuck Professors hosting group seminars and discussions. We talked about case studies in the healthcare industry and the competitive landscape of cameras (think Kodak and bankruptcy). Then, there was time to work with your group and apply the knowledge. Some of the things we did during workshops included writing a mission statement, outlining a financial plan, and considering various forms of a "minimum viable product" (MVP). The afternoons ended with catered dinners that allowed our team to talk over a meal and get advice from TuckLab Fellows—super friendly graduate students who could answer our questions and provide valuable feedback. Some of the Tuck professors who presented earlier even stuck around to jump between dinner tables (the level of support and guidance is phenomenal)!

At this point, my team has advanced to the final round of pitches—a round only four out of fourteen teams advance to. If we place in the top three, we get funding (first place is $1000!). After everything my team and I have been through, we feel ready. I'll write a follow-up post recapping my entire TuckLab experience in greater detail, but for now, that's TuckLab!

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