Top Business Schools and MBAs Respond to Ongoing Need to Support Small Business with the 2nd Small Business School Challenge

: August 13, 2020

Aug 13th, 2020–   The Small Business School, in partnership with MBA students from 15 top universities nationwide, are responding to meet the needs of small businesses devastated by the current crisis by hosting the second Small Business School Challenge, a 48-hour virtual design thinking workshop to help strategize and guide small businesses during this pandemic.

What started as a grassroots effort to help connect small business owners reeling to adapt and make changes to their business to stay afloat has turned into a nationally coordinated campaign and nonprofit-in-formation bringing together hundreds of MBA students and business leaders to team up with small business owners and put their collective business acumen to work on their behalf.

Commitments of support have already come in from more than a dozen institutions such as Harvard, Georgetown, and Yale SOM. The MBA students are being challenged to focus on preparing these businesses to thrive through the coming downturn, not just survive. The students are in competition to create the most viable and innovative strategies for their business owner clients, but it’s the business owners who truly benefit from awarded prize money, resources from corporate sponsors, and personalized support over the 2-day event.

“A future without small local business, where only the large chains survive this crisis, is a very bleak future indeed. As a former small business owner, the people struggling right now are my friends, my colleagues, my favorite locals, the people who make our communities so vibrant. We couldn’t be more excited to continue to bring targeted and timely support to those owners in need with our fall event,” shares SBSC Executive Director Katrina Cobb.

The first SBSC event in May hosted 150 small business owners who were supported by 450 MBA students and 100 business leaders and mentors, including a keynote from Seth Godin. The individual case studies and strategies that resulted from the first event are available publicly on the SBSC website at

Elisa Spurlin, owner of Peabody Fine Art and Framing, who participated in the May event had this to say about the support she received from her MBA team- “The suggestions they made will not only help my full client base during the COVID19 impacts, but they are a sound model that will be useful permanently to grow my business in a sector that I have not been very successful in engaging and converting to clients. I’m very happy with my team and their solutions.” 

The SBSC-II is scheduled for October 15-17 and plans to host 200 new small business owners from across the country. Applications are open through September 25th. Learn more and apply at, or nominate a small business in your hometown that you want to see receive free support to succeed. 

For more details about the challenge or to explore participating as an MBA student competitor or small business client, visit the SBSChallenge website at, the SBSChallenge page on Facebook ( or follow @TheSBSChallenge Instagram and Twitter.

About The Small Business School Challenge

The SBSC was conceived to support SMBs in crisis due to COVID-19 and the associated economic fallout. The SBSC team and events are designed to connect SMBs, MBAs, mentors, and sponsors in a 100% virtual environment to maximize opportunities for impact.


Katrina Cobb
The Small Business School Challenge