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Startup idea: marketplace for business research and students seeking internships / experience

Drinking Consultant

We’re looking to spend money with a startup business: a marketplace for businesses which want consulting research and students who want jobs, internships and experience.

Specifically, we want a website where we can advertise the research topics that are important to us (e.g., best practices of operational improvement among VCs), along with the qualifications (e.g., consulting experience) required to execute each of them.  As a live example of the outcome we’re seeking, I’m now sponsoring a team of three Columbia MBAs (ex-McKinsey & BCG) on a research study on “Best Practices of Venture Capitalists in Adding Operational Value to Portfolio Companies”.  I’m  providing research materials, guidance, and introductions to interviewees and other experts.  When we’re done, I’ll work with the team to publicize and potentially publish the final research paper.  This is effectively a sequel to my research study on “Best Practices in Deal Origination by Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds”.

In this marketplace, clients benefit by getting high quality work from smart, ambitious students.  Students benefit by addressing real life business challenges, the opportunity to get published, as well as access to a large network of potential employers who gets to see the students in action.  This business model is particularly pertinent to business students, but I could see students in many different disciplines participating in this marketplace, e.g., English students could write a marketing brochure.

Students would review these research topics by topic, industry of the posted topic, and/or by company that posted the topic.  The students pick the ones they like, and execute them as independent for-credit studies and/or as part of a class.  They’ll inevitably produce a better quality product and learn more if the goal is producing something for a potential employer… as opposed to producing something for a professor who gives a grade and then is (typically) no longer involved in the student’s life.

I would be surprised if this were to become a scaleable business of the sort that ff Venture Capital would invest in.  However, I certainly think that this could be a lucrative business, and would be highly beneficial to the universities and students that choose to participate.

To learn more about the process and the research topics for which we in particular are seeking student help, see our topics page.  If you’re working on a startup similar to this model, and/or you’re affiliated with a university which wants to execute this idea on its campus, please contact me.

Image credit: laverrue

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