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Can entrepreneurism be taught? A new Babson College study on what influences startup business owners says it can.
Strategic words are out. Personal search is in. This week, the Kauffman Foundation held a seminar on "Online Branding for Startups" with help from Mark Traphagen of Virante, a SEO marketing firm out of Durham, N.C. I learned a number of things in the hours we discussed branding with entrepreneurs and Kauffman associates, but here are my top four takeaways.
"CODE2040 is a unique and dynamic program that creates access, awareness and opportunities for top minority engineering students to ensure their participation and leadership in the innovation economy." CODE2040 places students in internships with top tech companies and provides them with mentorship, leadership training, and network development.
When I read Meg Hirshberg's book "For Better or for Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families" I knew instantly that I wanted Meg to join our slate of Founders School experts. The goal of Founders School is to provide entrepreneurs with crucial skills and knowledge, and to do so with an eye to topics that are important but rarely discussed in typical entrepreneurship education programs. The subject of Meg's book is just such a topic. We all know that entrepreneurs have to juggle a variety of considerations when founding a company: team building, assessment of product/market fit, intellectual property, and how to get that first important customer. What many entrepreneurs and, more importantly, their families, know is that there's a juggle on the family side of the equation as well, but it's one that many entrepreneurs may be reluctant to talk about.
Last week, we hosted Ice House Facilitator Training here at the Foundation. We had people come from across the country and the international community to be trained in how to facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset to members of their community. I had the chance to sit down with one of the facilitators, Rob Elwood, and learn about his reason for coming to this training, and how he sees it benefiting his community in Annapolis, Md.
As Kauffman Labs helps grow and educate the entrepreneurial community through programs, events and workshops, we came across an aspiring gentleman with an idea. Nodir Abdullayev (Bek) has just recently found out about the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City and has made strides to become engaged since finding his first event through Kauffman Labs. Learn how Bek's first experience made him go from an aspiring entrepreneur to lean entrepreneur.
Adam Berk had a vision of creating an online library where neighbors could borrow tools and electronics from one another. Why buy a fancy camera you only needed to use once for a big trip? Why invest the money in physical tools for a home remodeling project if you are never going to need them again? Adam and his best friend Dave spent 5 years creating this utopian community, neighborrow, powered by a new form of currency. Their business model was to eventually white label the product and sell it to large apartment buildings and others who wanted to facilitate a borrowing community. But they never achieved their vision.
Academia is getting ever more aggressive about helping entrepreneurs get a running start. An emerging crown jewel could well be Stanford University's brand new StartX.
Venture capital certainly has its place within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Some of our nation's largest companies (and employers), like Apple, Google and FedEx, have secured this form of funding. But plenty of Kauffman Foundation research tells us that VC funding isn't as mainstream in startups as one would gather based on its common place in startup news. In fact, less than 20 percent of the fastest growing young companies ever take venture capital money.
When considering the optimal number of founders for any new entrepreneurial adventure, the calculus extends well beyond simple formulas seemingly supported by observations of startup cohorts within specific industries. Famous technology twosomes that come to mind include David Packard and William Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple, Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. In these examples, it is widely observed that these buddy teams complemented each other well in the early formative years of their companies.
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