Teaching Entrepreneurship

You’ve heard it, we all have: In the fractious economy of today and tomorrow, it pays to be entrepreneurial.  Be a self-starter. Be creative, inventive — and, as difficult as it can be to think like this, be unafraid to fail. But how do we do it?

More than concentrating on the practicalities of starting a business, entrepreneurs start by building on their social networks. They become keen observers of the surrounding environment. Independence, tenacity and the desire to innovate are also part of the entrepreneur’s skill set.

But that’s not all: We must disconnect the entrepreneurial mindset from that of the “earner.” And it’s crucial that we recognize the entrepreneurial potential in ourselves. No matter who you are or where you come from, you are able to generate new ideas, develop innovative perspectives and craft propositions – and sometimes those things lead to other chains of thought that result in plans, presentations and products.

Let’s clear up the confusion about what makes an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are doers – doesn’t matter whether they own a business, work for others in a corporation, or make policy. Entrepreneurial behavior is reflected in an ability to identify opportunities, but, more importantly, the know-how to shape, assess and develop opportunities into feasible business ideas.

Looking forward to discussing these ideas with students and observe new companies come to existence this new semester!

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Five reasons to learn Innovation Management.

We’re introducing a new course on Innovation Management starting Spring 2014 as an elective to MBA and MS Innovation Management and Technology Commercialization students. While students take their exams, I’d like to leave you with five stylized facts about Innovation Management.

1. Innovation is not Invention.

While you might think that innovation occurs each time you invent something, this is hardly true. Kodak may have invented the digital camera back in the 1970s but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that this technology was commercialized and became widespread.

2. New products are just one among the many ways of innovating.

While many managers think product is king, many innovations occurs in manufacturing processes, marketing strategies or even when customer’s perceptions are changed. Think about the Toyota Production system, a management philosophy based on continuous improvement and elimination of waste, which combines human and automation practices. This revolutionary process of manufacturing automobiles made possible Toyota’s global expansion.

3. Innovation can be revolutionary or a small improvement.

Not all innovations are completely new products. A common household appliance, the refrigerator, uses the same technology since it was invented – a heat pump. However, few disagree that its basic form has changed quite a bit since then, given the series of small improvements that were made are over the years.

4. Organizations can promote Innovation.

How do companies such as Google, Apple or 3M manage to stay innovative throughout decades? Certain managerial practices, organizational designs, or physical arrangement of office space are ripe for innovation.

5. The outcomes are uncertain, but the process can be managed.

Innovation may depend on creativity and its outcomes unknown. But this does not mean you cannot manage it within your organization. The systematic search of new business ideas is crucial to any company’s long-term survival.

Below a short video that describes this new and exciting course.

Hope to see you in class next semester!

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Do entrepreneurs share a common strategy?

Entrepreneurship researchers have often conceptualized new venture development as a planned endeavor. This view holds that entrepreneurs develop business ideas based on forecasts of market and industry future behavior; they set out a goal, devise ways of achieving it while building defenses against competitors.

Recently, other views emerged suggesting that Entrepreneurship is essentially an emergent process and that entrepreneurs often disregard predictive information in favor of building on their current means and resources. Similarly,  seeking partnerships is preferred to analyzing competitors and seeking market shares.

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Together with Dr. Jeroen Kraaijenbrink, my research shows that there is more nuance than merely opposing views. A thorough analysis of archival business using as means to obtain business support from a Technical University, we see that often entrepreneurs combine forecast with insight, look at competitors as much as they build partnerships, and make do with they have at hand while defining future goals.

We have presented this research in three international conferences and are currently working on an academic publication.

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The Afterlife of Music Awards.

Early November we saw the debut of the YouTube Music Awards Festival. Recognizing that music videos are now essentially seen on the internet, the show was entirely streamed online via YouTube. The best videos were voted by fans, unlike the more traditional awards which are voted by the industry experts.

The biggest innovation however was the live recording of music videos based on the performances of Eminem, M.I.A. and Arcade Fire, among others. “None of us have done anything live before or an awards show — in a way we’re all like amateurs on YouTube ourselves, making our first video. So even if it’s messy, it’ll be live,” reported Spike Jonze, the show’s director to billboard.com.

The results were impressive! I was particularly touched with Arcade Fire’s performance and live video. Check it out below.

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