Attention, startups looking to scale: UNC has an opportunity to help you take your company to the next level. This fall, the UNC Eship Center—which is part of the Kenan-Flagler Business School—is launching Scale School, a program for startups looking to grow and build leaders.
Jill Willett, the Assistant Director of Eship Programs at the Eship Center, said that over the past year, they noticed there weren’t as many resources for startups in UNC’s backyard who were past the initial launch phase and were now looking to grow both rapidly and intelligently.
“It requires a different set of skills to grow a business in that phase than it does when you’re launching,” Willett said. “So we recognized that there’s a need, there was a gap, for that type of support.”
Every Scale School course includes weekly virtual instruction in a cohort-based model with support from the larger UNC entrepreneurial community. All courses are open to the public.
The three courses available this fall are “Introduction to Scaling: An Organizational Plan for Growth,” “Sales and Marketing to Drive Growth in Startups” and “Leading a Successful Launch: Bringing New Products and Services to Market.” All start in October, with “Introduction to Scaling” commencing one week from today (Thursday, Oct. 8). The “Sales and Marketing” class begins Oct. 14, while the “Leading a Successful Launch” course starts Oct. 27.
The cost is $749 for the four-to six-week courses focused on taking ventures to the next level. But those who are worried about their ability to afford Scale School can apply for a scholarship.
Eship Center Executive Director Vickie Gibbs said diversity and inclusion is very important for the center, and they want to make sure Scale School is available to all types of entrepreneurs. Minority entrepreneurs who may not have had access to funding are especially encouraged to apply for the scholarship.
The courses are designed to have plenty of live instruction along with feedback from peers. They are not merely lectures on topics; Willett said the courses were built to be rooted in action. Community-building through accountability teams will also be a focus within the cohort.
“You’re coming here because you want to learn, and turn that into action immediately for your company,” Willett said. “So all of the lessons and activities and work are designed with that in mind. You’re going to learn something one day and be able to put it into practice in your company the next day.”
Scale School hopes to target companies that are beyond the launch and gearing up for a period of rapid growth. Likely they are bringing in revenue already or just received funding and are looking for the smartest, most impactful way to build the company, Willett said. Founders, Co-Founders and other leaders within startups are encouraged to apply.
Adds Gibbs, “We see ourselves as being a partner and a catalyst, and we want to be seen as an ongoing resource for these companies and the leaders within them.”
While Covid-19 has changed the format of how Scale School courses were originally planned, the virtual nature may open up the opportunity to entrepreneurs beyond just the Triangle. Gibbs said it is also a unique opportunity for Scale School to really experiment.
“I think you have a really great opportunity with Scale School to be on the leading edge,” Gibbs said, “and using this as our beta test and the students as our feedback loop to really help us come up with what that new model will be.”