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VentureBuild: Tools for Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs

USC Marshall School of Business and USC Leventhal School of Accounting

Self-paced, rolling admission.


Instructor(s): Adlai Wertman

Program type: Short Courses
Format: Online

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The VentureBuild Online Course is a university-created 10-week program that prepares budding social entrepreneurs to assess the feasibility of their social impact projects. The course uses best practice business education on entrepreneurship, and adapts it specifically to the unique needs of organizations looking to create financially sustainable organizations with strong social, environmental and health missions.

The Course teaches state-of-the-art techniques offered to business students on feasibility and concept development. Those tools are taught with a focus on an audience that may have little or no business training and who are facing the unique challenges inherent to the creation of a mission-based for-profit or non-profit entity. The engaging Course guides an individual or a team through each step in a feasibility process, led by a Marshall professor and featuring leading social entrepreneurs who serve as 'guest lecturers' throughout the process. Topics include: writing a mission statement, industry and stakeholder analysis, concept testing, and how to build a financial model.

Related Faculty and Instructors

Adlai Wertman is a Professor of Clinical Management and Organization at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. In this position, Professor Wertman originated and spearheads the Marshall School's efforts in the growing fields of social entrepreneurship, social enterprise and corporate social responsibility. He is also the founding Director of the Society and Business Lab at Marshall – a center focused on using business education and resources to address global social, environmental and health challenges.

Prior to joining the faculty at Marshall, Adlai spent seven years as President and CEO of Chrysalis - the only non-profit in Los Angeles devoted solely to helping homeless change their lives through employment. As part of its award-winning program, Chrysalis ran one of the larger social enterprises in the country - Chrysalis Enterprises – with annual revenues over $4.5 million and employing nearly 1,000 clients each year. During his tenure at Chrysalis, the organization doubled in size, opened a third facility and acquired a permanent home. Adlai and his team dramatically increased the fundraising profile of Chrysalis, adding over 1,000 donors, creating premier events and raising it visibility in the greater community. He was also integrally involved in policy-making in Los Angeles regarding homelessness, workforce development and poverty.

Prior to Chrysalis, Adlai spent 18 years as an investment banker. His last position was Managing Director and Manager of Prudential Securities' West Coast Public Investment Banking Group. During his career, which included positions as at Bear Stearns and Chase, Adlai served as the senior banker on nearly $25 billion of financings throughout the United States. He also managed offices in Miami, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Adlai was a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Affairs where he spent two years teaching non-profit management, fundraising, finance and social enterprise to Masters in Social Welfare candidates, He is also the subject of a UCLA published case study. Adlai is also a Wexner Heritage Fellow.

Adlai earned his BA in Economics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his MBA in Finance, Public Policy Management and Strategic Planning from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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