First-year MBA students a Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business are available to assist entrepreneurial startup firms in dealing with business challenges.

The program is designed to help firms that can’t pay expensive consulting fees. The MBA students receive college credits for their efforts.

The program has existed for more than 20 years, and students have worked with more than 200 companies.

Fuquay cites the following criteria for utilizing the MBA students:

  • Be in operation for at least one year;

  • Be within a one-hour drive of Duke;

  • Have revenues exceeding $100,000 for the past business year;

  • Management is willing to provide financial data (one-year minimum) and operational data to the student consultants;

  • Management is available to meet with the student team at least five or six times during the the consulting engagement (October 2004 through April 2005);

  • Management will pay a $200 administrative fee if accepted into the consulting program.
  • “Students are eager to take their classroom knowledge and apply it to real-world situations,” said William Sax, who begins his 18th year of teaching at Fuqua this fall and is the director of the program. “Companies benefit from the practical advice they receive from the students who average five years’ business experience after receiving their undergraduate degree and before entering the Duke MBA program.”

    Students work in teams and select businesses that have applied to be part of the program. Companies will be asked to provide financial data, according to Sax. “Without complete financial information, it is like trying to decorate a house in the dark,” he said. Students also sign letter of confidentiality agreements.

    Applications are now being accepted for the Fall program. Deadline is Aug. 31.

    Interested companies should call (919) 660-7789 or send email inquiry to