Carol Reeves heads up the entrepreneurship program at the University of Arkansas’ Sam Walton School of Business in Fayetteville, Arkansas. When Fortune named her one of the 10 most influential women in entrepreneurship in 2011, the write-up compared her to a winning football coach (in the South, that should really resonate with people). So it’s no wonder, then, that the University of Arkansas is a great place to launch a startup.
The program, which boasts both graduate and MBA tracks, has launched many successful student-led startups, including BiologicsMD, which is developing a drug to fight osteoporosis, and Cyclewood Solutions, which markets sustainable alternatives to plastic products to consumer and business customers. In fact, since 2009, Arkansas students have launched 18 high-growth startups—in class. In the last decade, students have raised $45 million in funding and grants, and they have won more than $2.3 million in cash prizes during business plan competitions. Nationally, the school has won 20 national business plan competitions, two times more than the closest competitor. Its latest success story is VivImmune, a biotech company that is developing immunotherapy for bladder cancer. In April, the company, along with two other University of Arkansas startups, swept the 2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition. Altogether, the three company walked away with $57,000.
So what’s the secret? Many say it’s the coach herself. Reeves,associate vice provost for entrepreneurship, is said to have an uncanny ability to match students with different skill sets to create so-called entrepreneurial dream teams. That was the case with BiologicsMD, whose founders met in one of Reeves’ class.
The school also helps plant the startup bug into non-business-minded students with the graduate certificate in entrepreneurship, which is open to all graduate students from any discipline. The MBA with Entrepreneurship Concentration, meanwhile, is designed to teach students about opportunity identification and analysis, and the startup funding process. The program is open to both full-time and executive MBA students.