Twenty – five cents or fifty cents? -- How many lemons are we really using in each glass? – Should we start delivering? These entrepreneurial questions mark the genesis of my passion for entrepreneurship. While my experience as a lemonade salesman remains far less complex than that of those I have engaged in through the USC Marshall School of Business, my affection for a hands-on learning style remains the same. Due to this affection, I decided to take the leap and enroll in Dr. Elissa Grossman’s pilot course, Gaming the System.
To say the least, I was not disappointed.
Pioneered by Dr. Elissa Grossman, the course is most aptly defined by its narrative-style flow that emphasizes a hands-on learning approach and game style culture that galvanizes passionate USC students to perform as seasoned business veterans. Throughout the course, students interact with a fictitious entity, “The System”, which drives course culture and instills a sense of professionalism required to succeed. The course expands well beyond the walls of the classroom to reach into real-world examples of entrepreneurship; students are frequently participating in game-style activities that draw on nuance topics of functioning in an entrepreneurial environment such as trust, relationship management, and organizational structure.
Throughout the semester students could frequently be observed scurrying around to form strategic relationship to succeed in structured gameplay while Dr. Grossman was solidifying plans for what she coined, the ‘most ambitious endeavor of her academic career’. As with many of the projects throughout the course, it was steeped in secrecy -- tinges of nervous excitement began to build. After years of preparation, Dr. Grossman divided the class into specific teams to announce a business plan competition for the rights to our own food truck operation. Students were challenged by the project only to find out weeks later that every group would be opening their own food truck! In partnership with Roaming Hunger, a well-accomplished industry player, my team and I gained invaluable insight into the entrepreneurial grit required to execute a food truck operation. The project required students to participate in end-to-end processes that took teams through menu building and tastings, creative marketing strategy and financial analysis. As I handed a plate of buffalo chicken bites to my USC colleagues, I knew I had encountered a truly remarkable course.
Now entrenched in an internship with First Republic Bank, I could not be more appreciative of the entrepreneurial approach Grossman takes to instructing her class. Topics and readings regarding organizational structure continue to help propel my understanding of financial systems and continue to allow me to excel throughout my summer.
Dr. Grossman has always claimed, “an opportunity is an idea for which there is demand”. Gaming the System at the USC Marshall School should rightfully be considered a great opportunity for any budding entrepreneur as there is great demand for the well-calculated approach Grossman takes to instructing her students.