Merging Interests

The Graziadio School of Business and Management embarks on a partnership with a business powerhouse on the heels of being ranked one of the most entrepreneurial universities in the nation.

By Gareen Darakjian

In June 2011 the Wall Street Journal published an article about the failure of small businesses to raise capital. Using data from the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project (PPCMP), the article showed that banks had denied about 60 percent of small-business loan applications since January of that year, indicating the slow growth of small businesses and an inability to secure bank lending and capital.

Intrigued by the study, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.’s CEO, Jeff Stibel, reached out to then associate professor of finance and PPCMP director John Paglia. With a reputation for helping small businesses obtain financing and capital, he was interested in the potential for a partnership with Pepperdine and the promise of the PPCMP.

After just one meeting with Dun & Bradstreet, “lightbulbs were going off all over the place,” Paglia recalls. “The data in our research perfectly melded with their mission. We ended that meeting promising to partner on something … anything.”

Dun & Bradstreet agreed to provide the PPCMP with access to their small-business database
for the survey, which they helped distribute to millions of businesses, and co-branded the report. Thus, it became the first comprehensive, ongoing, and simultaneous investigation of the major private capital market segments (those that fund privately held businesses, such as private equity, venture capital, angel investment, and bank loans), saw the “small business” survey segment increase in sample size from roughly 1,000 to over 15,000. Dun & Bradstreet and the PPCMP then partnered to launch the Private Capital Access Index, a quarterly barometer of the demand for and access to capital among the nation’s small and mid-sized businesses, launched in 2012.

Last year, when Paglia became associate dean of the Graziadio School, he once again reached out to Stibel to pick his brain about furthering the University’s excellence in entrepreneurship and how to leverage the top 10 Forbes ranking Pepperdine University received for “Most Entrepreneurial Universities.” Paglia and Stibel spent much time discussing and brainstorming new curricular models for higher education, ones that focus especially on entrepreneurship. They emerged with a new endeavor: a program that incorporates the strengths of both entities in an innovative “Entrepreneurial Vision Partnership,” a comprehensive collaboration that promotes an entrepreneurial approach to galvanize the emerging business community.

“The economic research that has come out of Pepperdine University recently is some of the best in the country, so it was natural for us to want to form a partnership. In particular, the research efforts led by Dr. John Paglia on private capital markets have been innovative,” explains Stibel. “Through our original relationship, we focused on developing research to provide objective, ongoing data on the sentiment of American businesses. The new agreement that we just signed furthers our combined commitment to thought leadership on issues surrounding small business’ access to capital and entrepreneurship.”

As part of the collaboration, the Graziadio School will work with Dun & Bradstreet (formerly known as Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., which merged with Dun & Bradstreet in May 2015) to conduct economic research and develop a specialized curriculum that focuses on the needs and success metrics of entrepreneurs in the 21st-century economy. The partnership will also combine resources for teaching opportunities, promote specialized executive education options, and provide immersion opportunities for Graziadio students, including paid internships in Dun & Bradstreet’s corporate programs.

“We are developing leaders who are entrepreneurial in spirit, global in orientation, and ethically focused,” says Paglia. “This partnership is in alignment with our founding vision and funding from George L. Graziadio, who had entrepreneurial roots, similar to George Pepperdine. That history provides the foundation upon which we can excel in our entrepreneurial initiatives. I see the collaboration as a springboard to provide better entrepreneurial training and resources for our students in the long run.”

The Entrepreneurial Vision Partnership

  • Dun & Bradstreet executives will serve as guest lecturers at Pepperdine courses, seminars, and presentations related to the program.
  • Dun & Bradstreet provided a gift that will be used for research grants (up to $20,000 per year) and will be made available for faculty to work with the data provided by Dun & Bradstreet. Currently, Nelson Granados, associate professor of information systems, has been utilizing the database to develop a social media index.
  • Graziadio School students will have access to 10 paid internships (totaling up to $100,000) per year, where they will gain hands-on, real-world experience.
  • An annual entrepreneurial competition will offer approximately $10,000 in grants to qualified Graziadio School students and alumni interested in starting new businesses.
  • Faculty involved in the program will have access to Dun & Bradstreet’s rich business database, which includes information on over 17 million businesses. This includes current data that will allow Graziadio faculty to develop research and other related initiatives to carve out a niche in the marketplace in line with the University’s entrepreneurial heritage.

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