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Kauffman Foundation gets big response to request for education ventures – Kansas City Business Journal

July 18th, 2010 7 Comments » Filed under Acknowledgement

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation this week sent a call out to aspiring entrepreneurs who have ideas for high-growth companies that will transform the education market.

The call has been resounding.

Since its Wednesday announcement about the Education Ventures Program, Kauffman has received more than 50 applications for the 20 slots and seen its message flit across the Twitter universe in thousands of tweets.

“We’ve had very, very strong early interest in it,” spokeswoman Barbara Pruitt said Friday.

In part, that’s because Kauffman is offering to take some risk out of the entrepreneurship equation through the six-month program. The Kansas City-based nonprofit intends to pay the entrepreneurs competitive wages so they don’t need a full-time job and can devote their work time to their concepts, Pruitt said. Kauffman also plans to teach participants how to find financing, putting the entrepreneurs in touch with mentors and advisers who know what investors are looking for. That’s in addition to training and education about the various facets of running a business and about marketing their specific ideas.

The program is through the nonprofit’s Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation initiative.

“This program is the opportunity of a lifetime for high-potential entrepreneurs who don’t have the resources to quit their day jobs and take the leap of faith to start their businesses — businesses that they think will grow fast and transform education in a powerful way,” Bo Fishback, Kauffman’s vice president for entrepreneurship, said in a release. “Education is a more than $1 trillion market where innovations can produce massive benefits to the world and also create huge change in the lives of individuals.”

This is the first time Kauffman has done a program like this that’s focused on a specific industry, Pruitt said.

The timing is right, Sandy Miller, Kauffman’s director of advancing innovation, said in the release.

“The rapid pace of change in the education field in terms of technology, the growth of charter schools, new demands for post-secondary education and shifting priorities provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to catalyze their ideas,” Miller said.

The program is available to candidates at least 18 years old, either individuals or teams of as many as three people. The business ideas must offer products or services that help people learn and could change education. Applications are due by Sept. 20.

The program will mean entrepreneurs coming to Kansas City, the site of the training.

More information about the program is available online or during two teleconferences: Aug. 9 at 11 a.m. and Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m. Call-in details haven’t yet been announced.

The Kauffman Foundation has about $2 billion in assets.

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