NY Times Special Feature on Campus Entrepreneurship

Was alerted by NDE to a special section on entrepreneurship in a recent NY Times Education Life. Many interesting articles and examples of campus entrepreneurs and the issues they face. From the feature story, Dreamers and Doers, by John Schwartz:


“We’re really a dorm of dreamers and doers,” says Prinya Kovitchindachai, who is hoping to market a vile-tasting pill, imported from Thailand, that he touts as a hangover treatment. “College students are the largest group of binge drinkers,” he says, quietly gleeful at the prospect of such a large market so close at hand. Friends have helped him bone up on the basics of international shipping, of securing shelf space and — in a consultation with a neighbor who was wearing a towel and still dripping from the shower — of creating Web sites.

“Any school can teach entrepreneurship,” he says, “but at Babson, we live entrepreneurship.”

Now, let’s not get carried away: as a reporter and as a parent, I find myself on plenty of college campuses these days, and many of the students I meet are indistinguishable from the dull-eyed slackers I went to college with (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Pluto was still a planet). But then there are those who have this . . . THING, this go-getting excitement to start something, make something. They want money, sure. But the overwhelming desire seems to be to carve out something of their own.

That  is very Schumpterian no? The desire to ‘oversee a private kingdom’ is one of the three non-monetary reasons that entrepreneurs according to Schumpeter (1934). (One of the other reasons is to ‘exercise one’s creativity’)

The article makes use of Babson and Kauffman, and while they continue to innovate, smaller less well know schools and funders may now have advantages in creating new entrepreneurship programs. The article does offer critics who don’t see the importance of entrepreneurship. From the article,

The entrepreneurship movement has its critics, especially among those who see college as a time for broad academic exploration. Daniel S. Greenberg, author of “Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards and Delusions of Campus Capitalism,” finds the increasingly fervent campus embrace faddish and narrow. “I just don’t think that entrepreneurship ranks so high in terms of national need, or in terms of what can effectively be taught in the limited time available” in the college years, he says. “What aren’t you studying because you’re studying entrepreneurship?”

This guy Greenberg appears clueless, though his question does get at a more important question: Do we need more entrepreneurs? In my mind, as long as we desire sustainable growth and improved quality of life we will want more people acting as entrepreneurs. Many will fail, but the cream should continue to rise to the top and benefit all of society. 

BTW, here the Education Life feature on campus entrepreneurship offers 23 innovations from students in a wide variety of areas and an article by Samantha Stainburn that asks, Who Owns Your Great Idea? (when you are on campus).


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