The Hub Network: How GMAC® Can Get Ahead of the Business Incubator Trend

Submitted by: Chukwuma Nze (Nigeria), Loyola Marymount University

Summary: Graduate programs have changed. A new focus on the “team” has created an environment where diversity and creativity are valued. Included in this change has been an emphasis on real-world solutions to current issues. Private firms have gone farther with Business Incubators. Business schools have mirrored this process with little success, with most success coming from personal networks. GMAC can solve this by creating a web application restricted to students interested in entrepreneurship.

Full Description: Graduate programs have changed dramatically in the last decade. A new focus on the “team” has created an environment where diversity and creativity are valued for their positive impact. Cohorts and Group Projects have become the norm, pushing students to ever increasing levels of productivity. Included in this change has been an emphasis on real-world solutions to current issues. Business magazines and websites have become part of the classroom and the laptop is the new textbook. However, the actual business world has already gone a step further. Today many firms are becoming fans of Business Incubators. Creative teams of experts and enthusiasts come together to brainstorm a new idea nurtured by experienced mentors and industry veterans. Business schools have tried to mirror this process with few exceptional successes, yet most successes still come from personal networks and not cohorts or groups. It appears it is more important for like minded entrepreneurial spirits to make the initial connection toward projects that interest them. Yet, these “likeminded” fellow entrepreneurs may be miles away, with no access to another school’s cohort or group system. No access means less opportunity for creative bonding. GMAC can take advantage of this trend in business schools and the private sector to solve this problem. GMAC can create a Hub Network. A cloud-based social application that is restricted to graduate students interested in entrepreneurial ventures around the world.

GMAC’s new Hub Network will bring together bright and enthusiastic entrepreneurial students and match them with specific projects or Business Incubators with a specific focus. Think of the Hub Network as a dating site where eager suitors are looking for the best mate. The Hub Network will have an initial localized network that will easily expand to more schools and regions, incorporating more businesses and incubators. The limit is … well limitless. A group of MBA’s at the University of Nigeria, working on improving farming strategies in Sub Saharan West Africa can access the expertise of a graduate student at LMU, who has advanced farming experience and all of them can discuss strategic manipulations with another interested graduate student in Brazil who is doing work on Game Theory in Modern Agriculture. GMAC itself, through this Hub Network can target specific areas of interest and through philanthropic incentives. The GMAC Hub Network can be designed to facilitate as much communication and networking among graduate students, business incubators and the entrepreneurially minded as desired and with the available technology today – VOIP, VOD, Video Conferencing, Cloud-Based Document Processing, Online Project Management, etc. – implementation will be not that different from that of any early internet startup. Think of the GMAC Hub Network as GMAC’s Facebook for entrepreneurial grad students.

The GMAC Hub Network will be designed with a database and user interface that incorporates the specific needs of Graduate Students, Project Ideas, and GMAC itself. Students will upload and categorize their interests, education and experience. Individuals, businesses, schools and incubators will submit detailed project ideas with descriptions and categorized requirements. GMAC will manage the site flow, collaboration, administration, and database tools to facilitate the GMAC Hub Network mission: Fostering Innovation by Creating Access. Assuming a $50,000 budget, an over simplified outlay will be 5% for Legal, 10% for Website Hosting & Security, 24% for Rent & Administration Expenses, 24% for a Web Design Team, 20% for Advertising, and 17% for Marketing and Awareness. This cost will be covered by a backend registration fee on Project Ideas and/or a front end registration fee on Students. Through the GMAC Hub Network, GMAC will be able to increase entrepreneurial innovation to W. African and S. America grad schools as well as increase US based interschool access to non-MBA Business Incubators by 20% in the first year alone. Assuming a steady 10% rise in membership (LinkedIn had 189%) in the first three years and at least one marketable success, the GMAC Hub Network can easily become a global staple in the graduate world directly connecting over 20,000 graduate students to the top 10 US based business incubators.