Transparent Learnings— Sharing Nice Data from Q1
Nice Data is one of the 10 initiatives launching in the spring of 2019 at NDSU. Click here to see all 10 initiatives as they launch.
Three months ago, I arrived in Fargo with the task of helping to launch an entrepreneurship center. Three months later, we have our first moment to look back at what we have done thus far and track early successes and opportunities.
For the Nice Center, transparency and open data are essential to our work. Entrepreneurs can learn by looking at the data of the others, and we want to help other centers at NDSU and around the country improve their work by sharing what we have learned.
Measuring What Matters
We are still figuring out how to Measure What Matters. We know every student should be exposed to entrepreneurship, and we want to think about reach as a the first metric to measure to know if we are getting closer to this goal.
In addition to increasing reach generally, we want to increase reach among under-served students. Women are half as likely as men to start a business due to the lack of mentorship and capital, both problems we can help solve. New Americans are twice as likely to be an entrepreneur as life-long Americans. If we want a dynamic and successful entrepreneurship program, we need to make a conscious effort to include women and new Americans.
As we finalize our mission and vision, we will be updating our key metrics. With this warning, we want to start the process today by sharing our first quarter data, including challenges and opportunities.
The Land-Grant Context
First, we took a look at what other land-grant universities are doing with a focus on our peer institutions.
At the Nice Center, we believe entrepreneurship can, and should, be taught and shared. With the institutional mission of “addressing the needs and aspirations of people in a changing world,” we see entrepreneurship as an essential core to our land-grant heritage. I gave an entire talk on it yesterday at the Innovation Challenge (here are the slides)! To that end, NDSU is in the process of launching an entrepreneurship center (The Nice Center!) and currently offer an entrepreneurship certificate with a minor soon becoming available.
We are not alone. Most land-grant universities are engaged in entrepreneurship at some level, and our peer institutions are more active than the average land-grant university. In short, NDSU and the Nice Center are late to the party of entrepreneurship. It’s time to catch up.
NDSU and the Nice Center are late to the party of entrepreneurship. It’s time to catch up.
We found that:
- 83% land-grant universities (59/71) have an entrepreneurship program of some kind while 87% of our peer institutions (13/15) have an entrepreneurship program.
- 52% of land-grant universities (37/71) have an entrepreneurship center while 60% of our peer institutions (9/15) have a center.
- 25% offer an entrepreneurship major (33% at peer institutes), 51% offer an entrepreneurship minor (53% at peer institutes), and 31% offer an entrepreneurship certificate (26% at peer institutes).
In short, we are playing catch up and are almost on par with our peers as our entrepreneurship minor launches. Thus far we have made a decision to pair entrepreneurship with another major, which the majority of other land-grants are also doing.
Q2 Goal: Officially launch the Nice Center and entrepreneurship minor to keep pace with peer institutes.
The Student Enrollment Data
Looking at the past three years of data provided by the registrar, we were able to look at how many students took courses that included entrepreneurship in the title as well as courses specifically listed as ENTR courses, which began in the fall of 2018. The complete data set is here.
- 1086 students have taken entrepreneurship courses the past three years, 77 of those were ENTR courses, which began in the fall of 2018.
- 62% of the students taking entrepreneurship courses were male, with the highest percentage of males being in the engineering entrepreneurship courses (89%-95% depending on the semester) and the highest percentage of females in the music entrepreneurship courses (25%-100% depending on the semester).
- Only 26% of students who have taken an ENTR course are female.
- The addition of the ENTR courses has dramatically increased the number of students studying entrepreneurship.
- The addition of the ENTR courses, which are heavily male, has decreased female participation dramatically, reversing a trend of increased female participation from 2016–2017
Reflecting on the data, we see an opportunity to increase enrollment in entrepreneurship courses across campus. We are near 200 students this spring and that should become the floor for our total enrollment across campus per semester. Adding additional courses or certificates that make entrepreneurship more relevant for students in different colleges can help us achieve this goal.
Increasing entrepreneurship enrollment should not decrease female participation. We aim for growth in enrollment while also increasing the percentage of the students who are female. To do this, we need to show that entrepreneurship is not a man’s game.
However, increasing entrepreneurship enrollment should not decrease female participation. We aim for growth in enrollment while also increasing the percentage of the students who are female. To do this, we need to show that entrepreneurship is not a man’s game. Diversifying the courses by using more female examples, female guest lecturers and female mentors can help. Connecting with female-led organizations such as Women in Business and inviting their members can also help.
We currently do not have a metric for tracking other diversity measures, but look to add those as we move forward. Let us know if you have ideas!
Q3 Goal (Fall semester): Over 200 students enrolled in entrepreneurship courses with over 40% female participation
The Entrepreneurial Event Data
Most NDSU students will never take an entrepreneurship course. The current enrollment at NDSU is around 14,000, meaning we are reaching less than 2% of our students through our entrepreneurship curriculum.
If we want to expose all students to entrepreneurship, we will need to do the vast majority of our reach through programming. This includes speakers, clubs, competitions and workshops.
The first month in the position, I emailed all of the deans and asked what entrepreneurial programming they had in the fall and what the attendance was. Across the board I basically was told that beyond the Innovation Challenge there wasn’t entrepreneurial programming being done.
Now, I know that’s not exactly true. There are Wold Lectures, speakers and book clubs as a part of the Center for Public Choice and Private Enterprise, student clubs and more. What this exercise showed is the difficulty in tracking and aggregating “entrepreneurial” activities, which could include a wide-range of activities.
In Q2, one of our tasks will be defining and systematizing the measurement of programming that the Nice Center and others do across campus. We want to know what works in attracting participation and if students who attend a specific type of event or program are more likely to register in a course or attend a future event. We also want to know if these attendees are more likely to engage in community events such as 1 Million Cups or Startup Weekend. Perhaps most importantly, we want to know if these events help our students either start a project or develop skills that will help them in the lives.
These are big questions, and we would love your help in answering them. For today, we were able to track events that we had a hand in hosting during the first quarter of 2019. Full data set here.
We found that:
- Our events were attended 599 times. This is not unique individuals but rather the raw number of attendees.
- Entrepreneurship Club, which is a weekly event, attracted the most attendance.
- The Wold Lecture series was the most diverse event based on gender.
- Gender balance at our entrepreneurship programming almost exactly mirrored the overall gender balance in our entrepreneurship courses.
Q2 Goal: Define an “entrepreneurial event” and create a system for measuring the number of attendees
Aligning Data with Mission
Excessive data leads to naval gazing. At the Nice Center, one of the most important steps we need to take is defining our core mission and scope of work. In the first quarter, I spent roughly 25% of my time speaking with other centers and directors to learn what they do, how they measure it and what success looks like to them. There are many paths for an entrepreneurship center, and in the coming weeks and months we look forward to defining our mission.
With a clear mission, we will roll up data like this into a few key performance indicators, or KPI’s. These will become our North Star, helping to keep us on track and determine the best ways to spend our time and treasure.
The first three months at the Nice Center have been a whirlwind of learning and activity. As we document the process along the way, we will share as much information as we can so you can help us improve.
We are not doing this work for you, we are doing it with you. Your feedback is invaluable. We look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions.