“Law, Business and Entrepreneurship,” a multi-disciplinary course in the Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy, hosted a pitch competition, in which participating students demonstrated a range of entrepreneurial skills.
Taught by School of Foreign Service professor David Muchow, the class experiments with methods of entrepreneurship that cross the disciplines of business, finance, marketing and law. Nadia Ilunga (GRD ’18) won first place in the competition for her pitch, Cine’ Mobile, a program to provide pop-up movie theaters in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Professor David Wallis, chair of global business and finance in SFS graduate programs; Rosie O’Neil, coordinator for the Landegger Program; and Laura Clark, an entrepreneur-in-residence, judged the competition together.
Natalie Kaliss (SFS ’18) participated in the competition, emphasizing the learning opportunities presented by having an opportunity to participate in the pitch competition in class.
“It was a very good workshop in what you go through in a normal pitch competition, but in a smaller setting,” Kaliss said. “I thought the panel of judges asked really specific and poignant questions which I was impressed by.”
Competition participants pitched a wide variety of products and services, Kaliss said.
“I was surprised by how varied the ideas were, because you had mobile applications for clothing and returns delivery service, and then you have pop-up movie theaters,” Kaliss said.
Professor Dale Murphy, an adviser to the course, said that the intersection of social needs and students’ talents provides an opportunity for entrepreneurship.
“In all of our entrepreneurship courses in the SFS, we get students to try and identify a real societal need, and then to identify their own passions,” Murphy said. “The pitches are a way of getting the students to understand their alternative career paths besides those large corporations who recruit on campus.”
Murphy said he is always impressed with what Georgetown students manage to come up with, and that some students have ambitious entrepreneurial goals.
“I’m particularly interested in those students who were able to identify major societal needs, millennium development goals, and figure out business models that address those,” Murphy said. “That’s where the real markets are, whether it’s environmental, or labor, or social or wealth inequalities,” he said.
Muchow has a background in corporate law and previous experience with a range of industries. He hopes this class provides students with a chance to understand all aspects of the entrepreneurship process, especially relating to how entrepreneurship relates to law.
“What I find with helping clients who are starting up is that even if they have taken business classes or typical entrepreneurial classes, there are still a lot of gaps in what they need to know the minute they leave the classroom and hit reality in the real world,” Muchow said.
Muchow noted that recent graduates and up-and-coming Georgetown entrepreneurs often overlook aspects of the law when creating projects. Addressing potential obstacles, Muchow said, requires more than just business savvy. The “Law, Business and Entrepreneurship” class strives to prevent these obstacles by teaching students how to understand all aspects of entrepreneurship, from coming up with an idea to watching it come to fruition.
“Law schools teach more law than business, although Dean Trayner has been doing more to bring business into the law school. The business schools don’t teach much law,” Muchow said. However, “the world is a seamless web of law, business, finance, perseverance, and [students need] all this in order to create a successful company.”