IDEATE model wins teaching award

The Wake Forest Center For Entrepreneurship’s teaching model was honored for its innovations


Courtesy of Wake Forest

Staff at the Center for Entrepreneurship pose with the award.

Claire O'Brien, Contributing Writer

Wake Forest Entrepreneurship Center’s IDEATE model won the 2023 Excellence in Pedagogical Innovation Award — an honor distributed by the United States Association for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship. 

Created by Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Daniel Cohen and Assistant Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship Greg Pool, the IDEATE teaching method helps students explore original startup ideas. The components of IDEATE — identify, discover, enhance, anticipate, target and evaluate — help students develop quality ideas and hone entrepreneurial skills. Cohen expressed how this method impacts students and the Wake Forest community. 

“This method is an empirically proven method that helps students spot, evaluate and select high potential entrepreneurial ideas,” Cohen said. 

He continued: “The IDEATE method creates this beautiful virtuous cycle on campus where students learn the IDEATE method, then the Deacon Springboard and StartUp Lab help them cultivate their ideas and turn them into businesses. Then they graduate and come back, speak in the speaker series, join our advisory council and become our most fervent supporters.”

Senior Lillian Holland is a student in the Center for Entrepreneurship and experienced the benefits of the IDEATE method.

“The IDEATE method, while seemingly time intensive, proves to be incredibly efficient and enlightening,” Holland said. “I have always had a running list of ideas listed on my phone, but being able to evaluate ‘major-headache problems’ in an organized and active manner has been a game changer. The IDEATE method helps me discern which ideas are worthy of pursuit and gives me the confidence to execute effectively.”

Cohen explained how the rigorous nature of the course pushes students toward gaining long-term skills. 

“Students have to generate 100 ideas,” Cohen said. “It’s rigorous. There are some complaints about the challenge and the rigor, and my response is always: ‘if it were easy, there’d be a lot more millionaires running around developing ideas.’ But the other thing that I hear is that ideation is a skill that you can learn, and this method teaches you how to do it. Once students have gone through the rigor of learning the method, they actually really like it because they say they can’t turn it off.”

This method, the IDEATE method, is a key driver of our whole program.

— Daniel Cohen, Executive Director, Center for

Many student success stories result from IDEATE methodology, one being The Nori Press, a handheld clothing iron that simplifies the process of ironing and steaming. Two former Wake Forest students, Courtney Toll (‘18) and Annabel Love (‘18) developed the idea in Wake Forest’s StartUp Lab — a program that invests in potential entrepreneurs by connecting them with accomplished mentors. The Nori Press has become a huge success, collecting three times the revenue predicted for the first investors. 

“They developed that idea in my class, then they got into Startup Lab,” Cohen said. “They were able to raise $1.4 million worth of venture capital and exceeded $5 million in revenue in 2022.”

By teaching students how to generate quality entrepreneurial ideas, IDEATE helps students develop successful business opportunities on campus. 

“What we’re seeing is that we have a vibrant ecosystem on campus of students starting companies while they’re here,” Cohen said. “This method, the IDEATE method, is a key driver of our whole program.”