Crummer Student Opportunities: The Entrepreneurial Scholar of Distinction Program

The Entrepreneurial Scholar of Distinction (ESD) Program is a unique opportunity for students to learn about the venture capital space. The program, sponsored by the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship, accepts two students for the year-long program where they work one semester with DeepWork Capital and the other semester with one of its start-up companies.  

The faculty sponsor for the program is Dr. Kyle Meyer, Executive-in-Residence for Accounting. “This program gives a full spectrum view of what the venture capital space is all about,” he said. “The students get a great first-hand education in what VCs look for when making investment decisions, and the advantage is they get an entrepreneurial mindset that will help them wherever they go.” The ESD program is different from an internship in that the students have deliverables, and they get grades and college credit.  

Resumes are accepted for the program and potential candidates are interviewed before a panel makes the final selection. For the 2023-2024 year, the two students chosen for the program were Marissa Faris and Angelina Khourisader.  

Marissa is interested in working in the venture capital space post graduation, so this program was particularly interesting for her. “Having this experience has allowed me to build upon the skills I’ve been gaining in the past couple years,” she said.  She also appreciates how it is catered to her interests and allows her to develop the skills that she needs more practice with. Working with DeepWork Capital showed her how to better analyze the viability of startups to make better investment decisions. Seeing how they valuate companies and being more exposed to how VC firms structure investment deals has also been extremely educational for her. Another positive side effect of the experience? She’s gotten more confident. “I started asking questions and learning that I’m asking the right things and thinking the right things.” 

Angelina started her ESD experience on the startup side with bundleIQ. It has created an AI product that allows a user to put thousands of papers and documents into a bundle then use its search function to analyze the content. Angelina started out assisting them with social media but then pivoted to helping them figure out who their target customers are. She saw great value in using the product herself as a student and helped to spur some case studies where PhD students agreed that the program allowed them to be more efficient. She also assisted with restructuring the first set of emails from its new customer drip campaigns. “Crummer is great with experiential learning,” she said. “We talk about things in class, and I actually got a chance to see what it means to be part of a startup.” 

The ESD Program doesn’t just benefit the two students selected to participate. Ken Hall of DeepWork Capital confirms this. “The students are helpful, especially when it means having more people involved and getting smart, MBA-level input on opportunities and research.” He discussed how Orlando has a true opportunity to become more of a leader and a tech hub and how important it is to get the next generation of leaders more interested in tech and innovation. “This program is a lower risk way to get exposed to innovative things happening in our own backyard.” Overall, he thinks of the ESD Program as a win-win.  

This is one opportunity everyone can get behind. Dr. Meyer agrees: “All the participating students have remarked that it’s really helped them in their careers.” Marissa and Angelina will surely be taking the skills they learned during their experience with them in the next phase of their journey. And it’s almost time for the next two students to be selected. Applications for the 2024-2025 ESD Program are now open and can be completed here. All applications are due by May 10, 2024. You won’t want to miss this chance to learn about the venture capital and startup spaces.