My Startup and a Typology for Campus Entrepreneurs

I was not able to post anything over the weekend because life got in the way. You see, in addition to blogging as a component of my PhD, I am also a launching a new business and am married with a young child.

My wife works full time as an ER doctor and was working on Sat/Sunday. We are in the process of moving, so I was packing up boxes and moving things around, preparing for the floor repair guys (who arrived this morning at 7 am).

Moreover, the beta site for my startup was given to us on Friday so we were testing it, playing with/learning Joomla and working with the programmers over weekend. While this meant I wasn’t able to post anything or attend the finals of Mid-Atlantic Business Plan Competition, it had me doing a lot of thinking about life as campus entrepreneur.

One of the early comments that Richard Florida made to me when we discussed the idea of campus entrepreneurship was that I needed to start with a basic typology. What he meant was that the experiences of campus entrepreneurs are so varied that I had to begin categorizing them.

For example, the undergrad selling t-shirts to pay tuition is totally different from the PhD candidate (living on their research assistantship salary) patenting compounds and working with (or without) their school’s TTO group in trying to commercial lab work.

There is also the MBA candidate who teams up with the Law School Prof to launch a consulting firm and the undergrad who builds a cool tool that mushrooms into a billion dollar business (Facebook).

My experiences over the weekend (when I was also supposed to be writing my final paper for my advanced methods course) reminded me that my current experience as a campus entrepreneur is so different from my first two experiences (an internet startup as a full-time MBA student and consulting with some Profs as a PhD candidate) and from those campus entrepreneurs I have been interviewing, researching, and covering.

These varied experiences is what makes researching this topic so interesting, but it is the commonalities that I am looking for that will bring insights into entrepreneurship and economic trends, the university’s role in economic development, and the evolution of learning. All of this will hopefully lead to more effective and productive entrepreneurship, universities, and individuals.

I have a basic typology that I am working on — listing entrepreneurs according to basic characteristics: ie their role on campus (undergrad, grad, prof, staff, alumni); the type of business they are involved in (service, technical, retail); whether technical expertise/institutions of the university play a role (ie labs, TTO, research grants, etc.); whether campus entrepreneurship institutions play a role (ie classes, clubs, business plan contests).

I will publish more on this topic as I get a little further and will post it under my research page. If you have any thoughts or guidance please share. I am also looking for opinions.


3 thoughts on “My Startup and a Typology for Campus Entrepreneurs

  1. Hi David … fascinating, thanks for sharing, I’ll be looking forward to more … my thoughts lead to another variable, one that would try to deal with the “time of life” or maybe “age and experience” variable. I was 31, married, 3 kids and completely needing fulltime income when I started my MBA. My once-a-year class in starting a business, for undergrads at University of Oregon, reminds me that I sometimes deal with outriders who are in their 30s and even 40s who already have businesses established, married, children, and a lot of experience; but they are still in undergrad classes.

    Just a thought; I hope it helps.


  2. Tim thanks for the note. Absolutely age/experience or time of life is crucial. I was think about something along the lines of goal in starting new venture — ie just b/c (ie class bplan or comp); in order to make big $$$ (maybe gates or dell or smith from fedex); to have fun (ie facebook); to show technical or intellectual superiority (google?, fedex?)…. just more rambling.
    thanks again for your thoughts.


  3. Pingback: — GMU « Campus Entrepreneurship

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