Roughly 80-85 Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students convened at the Cool Springs Life Sciences Center to learn about the university’s policies, practices, and support services surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship. The inaugural Entrepreneur Boot Camp, hosted by Vanderbilt CTTC, CSLSC, and Baker Donelson, included eight whole-group sessions that covered everything from building a framework for a new company to considerations specific to Vanderbilt employees.
Jim Stefansic, a former Vanderbilt researcher/professor whose research was the foundation for the successful spinoff Pathfinder Technologies, started the boot camp with an insightful session about his jump from academia to entrepreneurship. Stefansic shared personal and professional accounts of what it takes to start a company. He urged the crowd to know themselves and know what they want before they start.
“I’m not trying to scare you, but it’s pretty hard,” Stefansic told the crowd. “If it was easy, I guess everybody would do it.”
Other topics of discussion included the actual formation of a new company - everything from entity selection to labor and employment issues; FDA regulatory issues; protecting intellectual property, particularly the big three of copyright, trademark and patents; Vanderbilt specific policies including conflict of interest, ownership of IP, and commercialization as a new venture; financing possibilities for new ventures; state support for entrepreneurship; and how to grow once you've started a company.
"Entrepreneurship is alive and well at Vanderbilt," said Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor for CTTC. "It’s exciting to see so many people here, interested in this topic.”