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Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurship


The Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurship is specifically created for entrepreneurs looking to grow their existing ventures, as well as for new ventures that have demonstrated sufficient progress in their early stages. Admitted individuals will work on their business concepts from new perspectives and develop executable business plans designed to promote business growth and obtain start-up and expansion financing.

The Certificate is underscored by key partnerships and resources, highlighted by JFK University’s Business Accelerator, making it the most comprehensive entrepreneurial certificate program in the region. Individuals admitted to this advanced track must have a clearly viable venture idea or be an existing business owner so that student-entrepreneurs can apply their coursework directly to their own business pursuits.

Since using IEL’s significant focus on helping me revise our Executive Summary and Business Plan, they’ve played a vital role in helping us raise over $800,000 in our Series A Round of funding. We’ve also implemented the course’s training on the “Blue Ocean” strategy to advance some relationships with key industry leaders in our market before even having a product to sell to them.
— Steve Douglas, CEO, DataPhysics Research, Inc.

Program Components
Individuals enrolling in the Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurship will receive six months of expert training in classroom and experiential settings and in-depth one-on-one advising and consulting services throughout the program.

In addition, this unique training includes:

  • Six months of expert training in classroom and experiential settings
  • Scheduled, in-depth one-on-one mentoring and advising throughout the program from JFK University faculty, business leaders, and other IEL partners
  • Access to cubicle space and conference rooms at the IEL
  • Access to partner meetings and regional business pitch competitions
  • Access to IEL resources, partners, and mentors

Class topics include:

  • Strategic business plan guidance
  • Developing a financial plan
  • Understanding investors and lenders
  • Marketing research and strategy
  • Financial elements of business planning
  • “Elevator Pitch” business presentation skills
  • Creating the BEST product or service

Business Accelerator
The Advanced Certificate provides its student-entrepreneurs with a full-service Business Accelerator, located in Todos Santos Plaza in downtown Concord. The Accelerator will provide space, shared office services, access to basic administrative equipment, conference room space, and expandable space to new and existing small businesses in the County that meet basic screening requirements for suitability, growth and job creation.

Mentorship and Advising
One of the most important components of the Advanced Certificate is mentorship and advising. Each emerging entrepreneur is matched with at least one strategically-chosen mentor. Mentors, who represent a variety of IEL partners, including Keiretsu Forum, Small Business Development Corporation, JFK University MBA faculty, and others, work closely with the emerging entrepreneurs throughout the program sharing their expertise, insights, assessments and recommendations.

Mentors will assist the emerging entrepreneurs in a variety of areas including, but not limited to:

  • Defining value propositions and offerings
  • Offering feedback on target markets, market sizing and competition
  • Providing insight into company formation and structuring
  • Assessing business models and strategies
  • Developing financial assumptions and models
  • Business analysis
  • Government contracting
  • Technology
  • Access to capital
  • Sharing presentation feedback

Mentors and advisors expect to spend considerable time with emerging entrepreneurs over the course of 15 weeks after the completion of the certificate program. This may involve meeting in person, but a significant amount of mentorship can take place remotely between the emerging entrepreneur and their mentor.

Financial aid and scholarships are available.  The Certificate program is approved under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and on the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL).

Gainful Employment Information
For information about certificate program costs, financing option, student success/completion rates, and job opportunities related to this program, click here.

Program Learning Outcomes

Program Outcomes
Student-entrepreneur success will be measured by the completion of a business plan and the execution of a plan to finance the venture. Specific learning objectives of the certificate program include (1) development of a marketing plan, including a competitive assessment and properly pricing the service or product student-entrepreneurs will endeavor to produce; (2) prepare a business and internal management plan and execute its goals; (3) develop a sales strategy for the venture; (4) establish a basis to finance the venture; and (5) execute the financing step to start the venture.

Mentorship Outcomes
Principal metrics to be measured at the end of the mentoring phase will include: (1) successful class performance, (2) execution of key milestones in the business plan, and (3) completion of Schedule A (Initial) funding.

Venture Growth / Accelerator Outcomes
Within a year of completion of the mentoring phase of the program and for four years thereafter we will tabulate the following data: (a) Annual revenue of the business; (b) Amount of capital (equity) raised; (c) Amount of debt.


The Certificate is cohort-based and covers two academic quarters. The first quarter consists of an 11-week classroom-based session for a total of 70 class hours. During the first nine weeks, the class will meet twice per week for three (3) hours each. During weeks 10 and 11, classes will meet for four (4) hours each. The class schedule is designed so that existing business owners may continue to operate and grow their business during the instruction period.

The second quarter consists of 15 weeks of mentoring course taken the quarter after the first course for the maximum benefit to the student.