Wharton Scale School Workshop Series Strikes a Chord with Bay Area Alumni

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Karl Ulrich Scale School

Nearly 60 Wharton and Penn alumni crowded into a classroom at Wharton San Francisco yesterday evening for a workshop with Bay Area industry executives on alternatives to equity financing. They talked about how companies optimize their capital structure over the various life stages of growth — from grants and accelerator programs to term loans and lines of credit.

It marked the third successful event Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship has hosted as part of the Wharton Scale School Workshop Series, launched in March this year. With three more workshops already scheduled for 2017, it’s safe to say Wharton Scale School is scaling.

As Dean Geoffrey Garrett wrote in his LinkedIn post a week after the first Scale School workshop, “This is Wharton’s sweet spot.”

“While ideas are essential to innovation, it takes real business skills to turn a great idea into a sustainable business that can change the world. Not only to survive but also to successfully compete, companies must be able to grow beyond early stage and scale the venture,” he said.

Attendees at Scale School

In partnership with Wharton Lifelong Learning, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship launched the new initiative to help with that process. Attendees gain insights from cutting-edge Wharton research and from experienced leaders who have effectively scaled their organizations. They are able to ask these experts questions about the challenges they’re facing in scaling their organizations and apply some of the key principles they learn in small group working sessions.

That includes developing business models to attract investors, identifying and developing a talented workforce, finding and maintaining a customer base, managing just-in-time supply chains, negotiating with myriad stakeholders, and navigating complex regulations, taxation, and reporting.

“We have about 7,000 alumni in the Bay Area and probably about a thousand of those alumni are in some way engaged in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Karl Ulrich, Wharton’s Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “We’ve really been able to leverage that alumni base to bring in experts on scaling who also happen to be Wharton alumni.”

Check out this video to hear Prof. Ulrich talk more about how Scale School can guide entrepreneurs who are making the transition from a successful startup to a large enterprise.

— Colleen Mullarkey

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