Course Spotlight: BUS550 Innovation & Commercialization

BUS550: Innovation and Commercialization focuses on how to successfully commercialize an innovation, inviting students at the graduate level into the world of startups. The course provides a run-through of the complete cycle from idea to market entry, providing students with the tools needed to build a startup using customer discovery and scientific experimentation. Understanding commercialization activities such as pre-product launch planning, market testing, actual product launch, and post-launch follow-up is a major part of this MBA elective course. Well-suited for students with an interest in entrepreneurship, it uses the framework of a “lean” business model derived from American entrepreneur, blogger, and author of The Lean Startup Eric Ries. Students develop ideas and have the option to pitch to an incubator or accelerator as part of class.

Ketaki Desai

Innovation and Commercialization has recently been taught by Ketaki Desai, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a PhD in Biomedical Sciences and also attended Carnegie Mellon University where she earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management. Upon graduation, she made Pittsburgh her home, and has coached and mentored various startups, including the Pitt Innovation Institute and Brainstage, Inc.

Ketaki is the Head of Strategy in Transitional Sciences at UPMC Enterprises. There, Ketaki guides a team that combines scientific, clinical, and investment enterprise to optimize the commercialization path for healthcare product innovations and solutions. The internal focus of this team is to support the commercialization of cutting-edge research by launching early-stage companies. Ketaki has taken her passion for biomedical sciences and her love for innovative technologies to the next level.

According to Sarah Huth (MFA ’18), “Professor Desai infused our semester with real world experience, hands-on group learning and a series of incredible guest speakers. I walked away from this class feeling confident, prepared and thoroughly grateful that I took a chance and signed up for this class.”

Janelle Aslam

This Spring, Janelle Aslam will be taking over the course. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, branding and business development expertise, Janelle received her MBA from the Cornell Graduate School of Management. From there, she managed marketing campaigns for SalonPas (over the counter pain relief patches for muscle pain) and she was also the co-creator of the Dr.Scholl’s kiosks. After two years in the pharmaceutical industry, Janelle became the Director of Marketing for FreshPet, a company that focuses on healthy dog and cat food. She is now the President and Chief Marketing Officer of MKT ABC, which helps to brand, develop and commercialize the ideas of businesses. Janelle will bring her marketing expertise and business development skills to the world of lean startups.

“I’m excited to teach the class and can’t wait to share my 20 years of launching several well-known consumer packages goods products, and my 4 years of helping several local startups, including Adrich, with my students”.

Innovation and Commercialization enables business students to think like an entrepreneur. The structure of this course invites students on a journey of startups with Eric Ries as their guide. Students will be able to explore the innovation cycle using customer discovery and experimentation. The final project gives students the ability to test their potential business idea, market themselves to an actual investor and receive real world feedback from an experienced professional. This course brings future business owners one step closer to  realizing their dreams!

“The innovations and commercialization MBA course at Chatham University is by far one of my favorite courses,” said student Kane Elliot (MBA ’20). “Every in-class meeting was exciting. Professor Desai give me the confidence to thrive in a positive environment and gave me the willingness to learn from my classmates.”

If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, check out BUS550: Innovation and Commercialization offered each Spring term!


Olivia Breen is a second year MBA student with a concentration in entrepreneurship. Olivia will be graduating in Spring 2020, and she hopes to apply her business knowledge to a small business venture. If you see Olivia, talk to her about planning events, traveling, home-cooking, and fashion.


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