Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Spectrum DNA co-founder Jim Banister talks with MBA students who are in Salt Lake City to pitch a business idea to venture capitalists as part of a program offering them practical experience.

When Kelly McCrystal was earning a master's in business administration at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, she learned plenty of theory but not necessarily a lot of practical knowledge about running a company.

She knew how to write a business plan and complete an analysis of productivity, but she didn't know how to handle day-to-day details such as what accounting system to use, she said.

Now, as chief operating officer of eXtreme enterprise, McCrystal runs a program in Park City to help fill the gap between theoretical and practical knowledge for future generations of Wharton MBAs.

EXtreme enterprise, also called eXe, is wrapping up the first year of its program, with two teams of Wharton students who started "social media" technology companies. Social media businesses are interactive Internet companies, such as eBay or YouTube. The program may expand to business students at the University of California at Los Angeles and Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

EXe is run by Park City company SpectrumDNA Inc., which creates social media technology companies that eventually become stand-alone businesses.

Friday morning in a conference room at the Salt Lake Chamber, two Wharton MBA students pitched their business idea to angel investors and local business leaders from the World Trade Center Utah and the Utah Fund of Funds.

The Wharton students' company was called Sproutlets. It plans to sell digital advertising through devices that plug into electrical outlets. SpectrumDNA requested specifics on the company not be revealed for proprietary reasons. The amount of money the company was seeking from angel investors was not disclosed.

Sproutlets student executives Francis Kim and Angela Arnold worked on the project for two semesters and earned four graduate credit hours. In Pennsylvania, they worked with Wharton adjunct professor Nelson Grayton and SpectrumDNA chief executive Jim Banister. The partnership between Wharton and SpectrumDNA was forged between Grayton and Bannister, who have worked with each other in the past.


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