Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught
Chuck Eesley and Jack Liu have very valid points. I am from the school of thought that everyone is at least partially entrepreneurial.
Let me attempt to organize seemingly disparate entrepreneur opinions found here by disc jockeying together Chuck Eesley, Jack Liu, Paul Graham, Steve Blank, Tom Kosnik , Mark McCormack and Yusef Celik.
Starting with Mr Celik.
Teaching street smarts in the classroom is entirely possible. He recommended the book, “Good Artists Create but Great Artists Steal”. He was a TA inside of a class I took, ENGR 145. I think he went to University of Virginia where he shared methods to leapfrog those ahead of you.
Moving on to Mr McCormack.
Sales, reading people and entrepreneurship were things he advocated. I paid particular attention to his entrepreneur practice of doing sequels. In my expert opinion, the concept of sequels can be taught in a classroom. For example, the Senior Golf Tour. Same sponsors, same distribution, same business model. Slightly older “employees”. Net was a $700,000,000 business that required zero VC. For example, Apple. It is a sequel to Xerox. For example Microsoft #DittoApple. For example Pixar, Oracle, SalesForce, HereSay, Sun, Intel, Fairchild Semiconductor, AugustCapital, Benchmark, NEA VC was a sequel to American Express.
In every example, the sequel was started by people who left people that said, “Ok, you’re quitting. Take a mill of our money or a million in resources. Good luck”
On quoting Tom Kosnik.
Teaching entrepreneurship involves letting people hear it, do it, teach it.
And then repeating.
On quoting Steve Blank
“No business plan survives first customer contact.” Teaching the art of rolling with the punches reminds me of another mentor. Mike Tyson.
Mr Tyson said to me in the hot tub at Village Health and Racket: “Everyone has a plan until they get hit”. Going back to Mark McCormack, doing sales of something you didn’t sell helps. Promoting something you are not emotionally tied to helps you later when you are selling something you engineered.
Back in Tom Kosnik’s version of ENGR 145, we would actually promote and sell our startups at TechCrunch, VentureBeat and GigaOm. I also heard a team even left class to attend a conference in Los Angeles that Variety hosted.
Paul Graham mentored me to, “Do things that don’t scale”. The majority of those ‘things’ are sales-ie in nature. Which leads me to Jack Liu’s point: Selling li’l things is critical.
For example, there are ways to teach what Jack Liu is talking about. See “Braun power cord arbitrage party” and ‘Live Action Business Case Study 3366, Uber’. It’s where you promote app downloads of Uber.
Pay particular attention Chuck Eesley’s statement: “There are always innovations at Stanford”. One such innovation inside of ENGR 145 is where an entire class focuses on one vertical. For example “Employment placement”. Future verticals might be financial services, health and wellness, mobile payments, etc. The reason this is a critical development, is that it focus-constrains-hones a pre-founder to do a sequel business outside of their passion area. Instilling and insisting ENGR 145 students to focus on an industry vertical causes particular benefits to entrepreneurship education in the classroom:
– Students follow their effort, not their passion (to quote Mark Cuban) – Students practice entrepreneurship versus perfect their passion project.
– Students practice engineering up a business model (quoting the sequel post to the popular “Business Model Generation” book. It’s a Harvard Business School magazine article).
– Students practice pitching VCs ideas that students hate, but that the VCoght love. Sometimes the public loves an iteration that you, yourselves loathe.
I wish you lots of luck teaching entrepreneurship!!! What is your name?!?