• Suffolk University teaching tech for 21st century business funding

    By: Elizabeth Hopkins

    Updated:

    BOSTON - For business students looking to start a company, cash is king.

    Finding that financing can mean taking on debt, or giving away a piece of the business.

    But at Suffolk University, students are looking to another option and the school has become one of the only places in the country to teach the technique.

    When Suffolk business student and Warm Up Coffee founder James Testa came home and told his mother he'd be launching a company, funding it with a Kickstarter campaign, she wasn’t impressed.

    “When I came home the first day, she told me, ‘keep your day job,’” Testa said.

    But this is a new era of business financing. 

    Banks and investors were once the primary resource for entrepreneurs to raise capital. But they can say no.

    So increasingly, new businesses are turning to the internet to appeal to the public for money.

    Testa and his classmate, Chuck Gibson, are students in a brand-new course at Suffolk University.  It's called Crowdfunding the Venture -- one of only two such college courses in the country. 

    “The whole crowd funding thing is awesome, because, as students, we don't really have any money,” said Gibson.

    He’s behind the company Wicked Fisha.

    The course teaches students how to use a financing concept so new, most have to explain it to friends and family.

    "Crowd funding really came about in the last 9 or 10 years as an alternative source, and so it's basically opening it up to the masses and asking for small amounts of money,” Professor Jenny Dinger explained.

    Professors Dinger and Chaim Letwin say crowd funding allows investors to buy-in to an idea they're excited about, with the potential to become a customer. 

    Unlike traditional financing, the business owners don't have to pay back the money, or give up equity in their company when they take it.

    Testa hopes learning how to capitalize on it, is the road to success.

    “Hopefully you'll be seeing it on every shelf, every store you walk in,” he said.

    To learn more about Warm Up Coffee, click here.

    Or Wicked Fisha, click here.

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