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RocketLab: New school for aspiring entrepreneurs launched in SA

A new school for aspiring entrepreneurs is opening its doors in Cape Town, South Africa. Launching in September this year, RocketLab offers three month courses that aim to transform its students’ ideas or enthusiasm into fully fledged businesses — or at very least the potential to set up a business — by the time they graduate. Instead of a graduation ceremony however, students are given the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of potential funders and business partners.

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Co-founder of RocketLab, Diane de Villiers, likens the experience to a mixture between TV shows The Apprentice and Shark Tank. “We believe that the most effective way of learning to be an entrepreneur is through experience, and for that reason all activities will be based on practical assignments. But the Course Directors as well as a range of external mentors and specialists will be on hand to guide our students every step of the way,” says de Villiers.

De Villiers and co-founder Charles Bryant started RocketLab in response to the dire unemployment situation in the country. They also observed people who have good ideas and technical competence, but lack the knowledge of how to set up and successfully run their own businesses.

Bryant believes that provided there is a passion and desire, anybody can acquire the skills to start their own business. “Our course is aimed as much at school-leavers and University graduates as it is at mid-career corporate employees looking for a change and entrepreneurs who already have their own businesses,” says Bryant.

Like the Awethu Project, RocketLab doesn’t require applicants to have an educational qualification to apply, as it values what it calls “entrepreneurial DNA”, but a wireless-enabled laptop, reasonable computing skills and good command of the English language is a must.

Successful RocketLab applicants who are unsure of what business they would like to create, will be exposed to a range of possibilities and business opportunities that match their particular skills and interests. Once students have hit upon a potentially good business idea, it will be subjected to a validation process designed to assess the needs of the market and the acceptability of the idea to potential customers.

Students will receive advice on how to obtain funding as well as training in accounting, marketing and the legal aspects involved in running a business.

The course ends with the pitch to a panel of businessmen that will include angel investors and venture capitalists.

Following the initial course in September, a further three courses are scheduled for 2013, while plans are in place to set up RocketLab schools in the other major centres of the country in due

Anyone interested in the RocketLab course is welcome to attend RocketLab’s Open Day on 8 August 2012 at 6pm.

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