Students standing at the reception desk of WePay

The spring E-LAB course focuses on all aspects of building an early-stage company. WePay is one of many start-up companies on last year's start-up tour (photo courtesy of Steven Bennett).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you need another spring semester class?

Students in Professor Steven Bennet’s Entrepreneurship Lab (E-LAB), now in its fifth year, get the opportunity to learn a wide set of skills in a start-up environment.

“I want to expose students to the start-up community, and show them the way to get experience at a young age so they can prove what they can do,” Bennet said.

A big company will encourage each worker to specialize in one hard skill, he says, while a start-up offers the opportunity to wear many different hats, nurturing a broad array of hard and soft skills.


Bennet’s goal this year is to recruit students in the business school and beyond, crossing multiple disciplines.

“We are looking to bring in students from business, design, engineering, science, media, education — kind of everything,” he said.

The three-credit E-LAB course, open to undergraduate and graduate students and all colleges and majors, takes a look at all aspects of building an early-stage company through case studies, entrepreneurial speakers and start-up tours.

Eighty hours of the course is dedicated to students working as interns at the some of the fastest growing Bay Area start-ups. Participants have included Sociogramics, Whodini, Astrid, WaterSmart, The Glue Network and WePay.


Emeka Nwadibia, ’11 Finance — who won third place in last year’s Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition for Entusic, an event ticketing website — did his internship with Appstores in San Francisco.

“I got to get a hands-on feel for the tentative daily schedule of a start-up and saw what they had to do to grow their business,” Nwadibia said.

WePay CEO Rich Aberman has participated in SJSU’s E-LAB program for the past two years. His first student intern, senior business major Stephen Guerguy, ’11 Finance, is now a full-time employee.

“Steve changed the vision for our sales team, which will be 40 people by the end of the year,” Aberman said. “Working at a start-up company is an opportunity to have a level of responsibility and ownership that I think take people careers to build at a larger company.”