This past Fall, Miami University in Ohio formed the first cohort for its Master’s of Entrepreneurship + Emerging Technology degree (MEET). Glenn Platt, C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Network Technology & Management Department at Miami, was the driving force behind the development of the new online degree. We spoke to Platt about why the degree is important and what it consists of.
How many credit hours are involved in the degree?
Platt: It’s actually a one year master’s. You can do 30 credit hours in one year, but a lot of folks are taking more than that and just doing it part time. It kind of depends on how much bandwidth you have in your life. In theory, though it can be completed in one year, two semesters and a summer’s worth of courses and internships. It requires either an internship or an externship. So if you’re already employed and are going to work on an entrepreneurial project within your organization, you can run that as your project.
Is it geared toward people who want to launch their own businesses?
Platt: When we first set up the program, we were imagining a lot of people who have graduated from college and are in that gap in between college and their first job, and this would be a way basically to just kind of get a foot in the door to a Bay Area company or a company here in Cincinnati. But it turns out where we’re getting the most interest in the program is from people who are already in jobs, are looking to job hop, or level up at the company that they’re at. In those cases, going to San Francisco just doesn’t make sense, right? They’ve got jobs and families here. So we have ended up emphasizing more of this externship project than the semester-long internship.
What is the curriculum?
Platt: There are two groups that make up what we do. On the tech side, we’re actually teaching them tech development so that they can learn how to produce an MVP, you know, even if they don’t want to be an engineer. In fact, none of them really typically want to be engineers, but they learn how to be able to create a prototype of their ideas, so we actually teach them hands-on tech. We teach them digital marketing, growth hacking, all of the things involved in tech. We teach them usability and user experience, design, that type of thing.
What about the entrepreneurship side?
Platt: On the entrepreneurship side, there’s kind of an introduction to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. What makes up an ecosystem? What are the things that stakeholders are looking for in entrepreneurs that they work with? We have a specific course in VC and funding. That goes fairly deep into understanding how the funding world works in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. And then we have a Creativity course that would be most focused on thinking about the kinds of new ideas that you would want to start for yourself. The idea is that we don’t want to intimidate people out of entering a program like this by saying, ‘Hey, you already need to know something about tech or know something about entrepreneurship.’ We’re going to start you at the ground level and you kind of make your way up. If you want to start your own business, then the internship or externship part of the curriculum can focus around that. In a sense, your internship would be your business.
People who work for existing companies in the Cincinnati area also like the program?
Platt: You can’t throw a rock here in Cincinnati without hitting a big company that has some kind of innovation center. Fifth Third Bank, Procter & Gamble. They do some really innovative entrepreneurial work. But the degree is also for people who have jobs and are looking to get out of them, too and get into an existing startup.
You have a bootcamp coming up in Silicon Valley. How was that connection made?
Platt: Miami University, interestingly, has an exceptional representation in the Bay Area. There are quite a few Miami University alums. Our network out there is really good — we want to kind of bring a lot of that back to Ohio.
How are the interns received in the Bay Area?
Platt: One of the things that we found–just to speak to the Flyover emphasis of your publication. We consistently hear how much the Bay Area companies love our students, because they walk in the door without thinking they already know the answers to things. They bring that Midwest humility. We hear from everyone that hires our interns that they’re so hard working and humble and open to learning. It’s really refreshing.