Root master: How a Durham graduate made a business out of planting trees

More and more MBA students want to learn how to go it alone

Is entrepreneurship the new banking? With the finance and banking sectors frozen or in a holding pattern, business schools are responding to students clamouring for lessons in how to make it in business on your own.

Schools everywhere report increased interest in what makes the perfect pitch, and are responding by drumming up courses and establishing business hub centres. Here, entrepreneurially minded MBAs can learn about what it takes to set up your own business, or even better, get a kick start into a venture from the very beginning of their course.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business was renamed two months ago after entrepreneur and visionary marketer David G Booth. Here, classroom or hands-on courses in entrepreneurship are among the most popular in the school; and the subject is the second most popular major (finance still pips it).

Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the university, says students get a chance to apply what they learn in the classroom with internships at local venture capital and private equity firms, and involvement in a business angel network of alumni and friends of the school known as the Hyde Park Angels (HPA). HPA has funded three companies and grown quickly, with Booth students serving as associates and helping run due diligence on companies that apply for funding.

And at the London branch of the school, students gathered in their hundreds recently to hear Dr Riaz Agha, a young entrepreneur, pitch his idea for a new comparison website to a panel of hard-bitten investors – and to hear their revealing feedback on the proposal. One business angel, for example, said that she wouldn't invest in anything without evidence that a venture capitalist might be interested later.

Contact with such investors is vital to MBA students. At the Saïd Business School's annual "Silicon Valley comes to Oxford" event, this season's panel included the founders of LinkedIn, Twitter and Second Life – all inspirational entrepreneurs who are also investors.

And "hubs" where students can gain support for their own ventures, or vital experience with local businesses wanting to benefit from innovative thinking, are taking off. In Edinburgh, at Napier Business School's Moffat Centre, students get advice on setting up their own business right from the start of their course. Nottingham University Business School MBA students use the university's Ingenuity Centre to work with medium-sized businesses, researching for them on campus or taking on projects in house. And Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, which has just launched an MSc in entrepreneurial practice, runs Innospace, a skills centre that has attracted more than 70 young businesses since it opened a year ago, with links to the school's MBA programme.

These centres have a ripple effect out into the community. Lancaster University Management School (LUNS), for example, sees its "New Venture Challenge", which introduces students to entrepreneurs or business start-up operations right from the first term, as an opportunity to deliver a service not only to its students but to small and medium sized business all over the North-west.

Nationally, too, schools are playing a lead role in disseminating cutting edge thinking. Judge Business School's Centre for Business Research in Cambridge and Imperial College Business School join forces this month to establish a new "virtual" national research centre aimed at giving the UK the edge in innovation – bringing together leading academics researching in both the private and public sectors.

But in these straightened times, where is the money for new ventures going to come from? Undoubtedly, says Kaplan, seed funding will be harder to find and more expensive. On the positive side, he says that the opportunity cost of doing a start-up has declined, and it is also easier or less expensive to create the infrastructure for a start-up than ever before.

Creating your own investment fund is also a way forward. A pioneer in this field is ESSEC Business School in Paris, where Julien Morel, the executive director responsible for entrepreneurs has run a seed fund for projects incubated at the school for four years. With the help of co-investors, ESSEC's seed fund money cushions its budding business enthusiasts from the worst of the current crisis.

"Around 20 start-ups emerge from the school every year," says Morel. "But this activity pre-dates the current financial situation and springs more from the increasingly individualistic and network orientated mindset of young French students now. They don't necessarily want to work in a big company – they want to do what they want."

It's clear, though, he says that the current crisis may push the trend for entrepreneurial activity forward. It's one that looks set to be ever more popular as the year progresses.

'I didn't rush into it'

Recent Durham Business School MBA graduate Stephen Prior has made good use of his dissertation: he used it as the basis for his own business. His company Forest Carbon offers carbon offset management and advice for companies such as Marks & Spencer, The Green Insurance Company and Hallmark Cards, and is, he says, the only offset company in the UK specialising solely in forestry. It covers bare British hills with trees bought by its clients, following the Kyoto Protocol's "additionality" principle, to act as carbon sinks.

"The dissertation was about the fundamental principles of environmental economics and how UK forestry could fit into offset markets", he says. "But although I had always wanted to work independently, I didn't rush into running my own business. It's not always an easy thing to do straight away – if you've never worked on your own it may take you a while to even begin to see yourself as an entrepreneur.

"I got to know the market first by doing consultancy work and it took more than two years running the business in parallel with that before I took the leap. This also gave me time to develop good, solid relationships in the field.

"If running your own business is something you want to do, you tend to know when the time has come to take the plunge".

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Learning Support Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experienced Learning Sup...

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a flexible inspira...

Graduate Accountant - Banking - Bristol - £140pd

£100 - £140 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Graduate Accountant - Banking - Bri...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried