Educating entrepreneurs - a man with a plan

Bill Aulet, Senior Lecturer and Managing Director of Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, was with us last night for our weekly meetup at TechHub Bucharest, together with Marius Ursache (Founder and Chief Design Officer Grapefruit) and Andrei Marinescu (Co-Founder and CTO of Appscend), in a panel moderated by Ioana Hreninciuc (Commercial Director of Bigstep).

The talk developed around Bill's recently published book: �Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup�, whose focus is a proposed framework that can teach entrepreneurship in a rigorous and applicable manner. Bill emphasized that there is an urgent need for education in entrepreneurship and that this professional direction should be considered as any other career orientation and be taught as such.

Bill told us that there was no specific place to learn entrepreneurship when he started his first business. He learned mostly from experience and then he started to work on a method that could ease the knowledge transfer towards other young entrepreneurs.

Bill emphasized the need for more rigorous, long term learning. He also supports innovation driven entrepreneurship (IDE), which tackles global markets, prepares products for export, and is based on a sustainable competitive advantage. In his perspective, innovation is something that creates value for someone. It could be an idea, an invention, a type of technology or a patent. And it's important to remember that the people or companies that can commercialize innovation are regarded as the source for that innovation (the company that created the mp3 was not remembered, the iPod was).

Ideas are easy to produce, but difficult to apply and sell.

People at MIT know how to identify good inventions and how to commercialize them, Bill told us. "Statistically, if you have a PhD you are less likely to become an entrepreneur", he added. He also believes strongly that "if you�re a serial entrepreneur, you learn and become better at it �* entrepreneurship can be taught*". This is especially important since one third of US college students want to become entrepreneurs.

In Bill's perspective:

  • entrepreneurship needs to be regarded as a profession
  • the supply of quality entrepreneurship education today is very limited
  • entrepreneurial education is contextual, so it�s difficult to teach
  • entrepreneurship is experiential, it's mentor-intensive
  • the objective of education is to teach people how to fish, not how to catch a fish
  • it�s easy to fail at doing education in entrepreneurship (Donald Trump has an entrepreneurship institute � storytelling and shark-tanking � now he�s being sued for that)
  • you have to have the right spirit, to think differently, to be motivated
  • you need to foster an environment of creative irreverence, like they do at MIT (hacking)
  • hacking is about taking on Goliath, about swimming against the current
  • we need not to make entrepreneurship sound easy
  • we need the execution skills of a navy seal and incredible self discipline
  • you can�t just have practitioners in an entrepreneurship education program; you also need researchers and hard date people
  • if we want to make this a profession, we need the data to back it up.

Don't forget that you can see last night's recording of the live stream and draw your own conclusions.

Remember to stick around for more insightful meetups!