University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Acara Spring Institute – Making Change

Have you heard the term “business model” but you think it sounds like Heidi Klum in a business suit? Do you have an idea for an innovation but don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur? Do you want to make a change in the world and make a living doing it? If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then the Acara Spring Institute is for you. This starter series of three short courses is for anyone with an idea for social or environmental change, whether that idea is on the back of a napkin, in a detailed business plan or already running.

photo (17)Course Schedule and Content:

March 15, 2014 – 8am – 4:30pm – Who Cares?: Intro to design thinking and ethnography, business model canvas, social value proposition and customer segments, defining your action plan for market research.

April 12, 2014  –  8am – 4:30pm – Do the Math: Refining your solution, creating business model canvas, establishing financial and social value proposition, defining and measuring metrics for a social venture.

April 26, 2014    8am – 4:30pm – Tell me a Story: Structures for social ventures, creating compelling elevator pitches and presentations, getting started with impact investors and crowd funding.

Pitching Your Venture – April 29, 2014 Acara Impact Venture Review: Selected participants will be invited to present their venture at the Acara Impact Venture Review on April 29, 5-8pm at IonE. Teams will pitch to an invited audience of entrepreneurs, business owners, engineers and other professionals who will provide critical feedback. Presenting at the Acara Impact Venture Review is at no cost to the pitching entrepreneurs.


Course Details:

Prerequisites: You must have at least an idea for a social venture in order to participate in the sessions.

Register hereRegistration to is open to anyone. The sessions will not be webcast. Participants will not earn credit at the University of Minnesota.

Fee: Sessions are $80 each. Attendance is limited so don’t delay! Scholarships available if the fee is not affordable.

Location: Institute on the Environment Seminar room (R380), Learning and Environmental Sciences Building, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108.

Instructors:  Fred Rose and Brian Bell of the Institute on the Environment will lead the course. In the last 18 months, they have taught more than 300 budding social entrepreneurs in four countries. Fred has two engineering degrees, spent 30 years in industry in various technical and innovation roles globally, and has started several nonprofits.  Brian has degrees in Civil Engineering and Sustainable Development, and extensive on-the-ground experience in Uganda, Kenya, Nepal, and India. Both have been involved in helping to launch a number of social ventures out of the Acara program. Guest speakers will also be featured each session.

Questions: Inquiries may be directed to Fred Rose at

Acara is the impact entrepreneurship program of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management.

January 23, 2015:
Acara Challenge Applications Due

January 26, 2015:
Apply now for Acara May-Term India Study Abroad Course!
More info: CE 5570: Discovery India

February 26, 2015:
Acara Challenge 2015 Competition at McNamara Alumni Center, 8am-4pm

Acara Challenge 2015 Reception and Award Ceremony at McNamara Alumni Center, 5:30-8:30pm