Interesting article in Forbes that highlights the perspective of the professor as students engage in entrepreneurship on campus and years after graduating. The piece focuses on some Wharton Profs and also mentions that the professor who helped Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their early days has ended up with a net worth of $1.6 billion. Not bad. Professors, are their billionaires in your midst? What can you do to help them realize their dreams. How can you and your school guide them as they attempt to lay the foundation for something great.
From the article by Keren Blankfeld:
Professors often get unique insight into how budding entrepreneurs work and strategize and sometimes they’ll also get a preliminary glimpse of an idea with great potential. Many business schools have entrepreneurial programs geared to those students, but sometimes a student who makes a mark might get personal attention from the professor outside of school.
In 1996 two students came to Reibstein with a business plan they were developing based on an idea that Reibstein had kicked around during a class lecture. The day after the students graduated he sat down with them and helped them develop a business plan that evolved into Bizrate and Shopzilla.
Students who are visionaries, are passionate about their business idea and have a good pulse in the marketplace have a good chance to succeed, says Reibstein. The two entrepreneurs who approached him had all those traits.
“Another thing is not trying to conquer the world,” said Reibstein. “People often think of the million customers they might get–but not of the first one. The first customer is really critical and the first five customers are very important.”