The Acton School of Business, located in Austin Texas, is launching a web-based entrepreneurial training platform called Acton On Demand. Think of it as “CodeAcademy for a contrarian entrepreneurship education.”
The Acton School of Business was founded in 2002 founded by Jeff Sandefer, an entrepreneur and teacher at the University of Texas and two of his colleagues, Phil Siegel, Vaughn Brock, and Jack Long. They wanted to create a different kind of business school–one that focused more on the practicalities of entrepreneurship rather than the theoretical principles that are taught in most MBA programs around the country.
The platform is a web-based application that will offer eight courses to start. The focus is on practical training in several key areas of entrepreneurship:
- Cash & Valuation – as in counting the money at the end of the day but also learning if you're adding value to the company.
- Operations – How do I make and deliver? How do I meet a need and build it for less than I sell it for?
- Customers & Sales – Finding customers with a specific need, and fulfilling it.
- Growth – How do I make this a long term, profitable business?
The platform was created with careful attention to how entrepreneurs learn and how to help them develop a complete tool kit for building a successful, sustainable, business. Two key features of the platform are the “Guide” and the “Running Partner.”
- Guide: a mentor, an established entrepreneur to check in with you from a high level
- Running Partner: a peer, going through the same or similar courses to work together
These two features help maintain a high level of accountability for those enrolled in the course. During beta testing of over 1,500 participants, the Guide and Running Partner helped drive program completion rates of four to five times those of standard MOOCs. The average MOOC completion rate is 3-10%. The Acton On Demand completion rate during beta was over 40%.
Over at Acton, they're also obsessed with data (I mean, who isn't?). Input from course participants is critical to the program. Students fill out surveys and can give constructive criticism of the courses along every step of the way. Also, after every course, students are encouraged to fill out journal entries, with prompts, to help develop a deeper understanding and retain more of the material.
A lot of MOOC courses on entrepreneurship focus on fleshing out a specific idea, or learning a specific skill. The Acton program is appropriate for anyone who is dabbling with the idea of entrepreneurship, but doesn't have a solid idea yet, to someone who already has a running business, but wants to expand their skill set.