Universities are our Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Everyone is looking for them. We have them already… They function pretty well. My recent paper: The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. From the abstract:

One question that immediately comes to mind when studying ecosystem performance is what the proper unit of analysis is: the country, the state, the city, the region, or something smaller, like an incubator or accelerator? This paper suggests that the open, innovative American frontier that closed at the end of the 20th century has reemerged in the entrepreneurial economy on the U.S. campus. The contemporary campus entrepreneurial ecosystem offers the characteristics of Turner’s frontier: available assets, liberty and diversity while creating opportunity, and fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. A case study of the University of Chicago explores governance of the campus as an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the output produced by that campus ecosystem.

Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: the University of Chicago

Even though the University of Chicago does not have a school of engineering, it has become a leading startup university. Groupon, GrubHub, Braintree Financial and other high growth, student created firms have come of of the University of Chicago in recent years and the end is nowhere in site.

Check out my new paper: The Campus as Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: the University of Chicago to learn more about Chicago and how the US campus has become the hottest entrepreneurial ecosystem around. Here is a snippet:

In March 2016, Forbes Magazine released its list of the world’s billionaires. Simply perusing the 100 richest people in the world suggests that student entrepreneurs from US colleges and universities have impacted the world as much as any cohort on the list. The outsized impact of students that began the firm formation process on campus is glaring. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is #1 in the world, with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at #6 while the Google founders come in at #12 and #13 (“The World’s Billionaires,” 2016). Just a short leap away is Phil Knight of Nike at #24 and Michael Dell at #35 with Paul Allen, who left Microsoft in the early 1980s after co-founding the firm with Gates, at #40 spot globally (“The World’s Bilionaires,” 2016). There are many others on the list that trace their wealth to student created firms at US universities. While there is a diversity of founders and fields of studies from a range of years and universities, their ventures were begun on a campus entrepreneurial ecosystem in the US.

 

Some @PeterThiel Content | Videos and Articles

Like many, I’ve been fascinated by Peter Thiel for a few years, really hitting my radar with his Thiel Fellowship a few years back when he asked innovators to leave the campus and pursue their innovations (here are all the fellowship winners). I was fortunate enough to Peter-thiel-paypal-historysee him in Conversations with Tyler at George Mason University in 2015.

His background, from founding PayPal (PYPL | NASDAQ) and funding Facebook (FB | NASDAQ) to his fellows and Zero to One (his book), its clear this guy is one of the most intelligent and insightful people out there (at least among those sharing their thoughts publicly) so it’s no surprise that he has been so successful. Here is some Thiel content.

I share the The Competition Myth by Peter Thiel with all of my students.

Excellent long video interview with Bill Kristol. Really covers a diverse set of topics from Facebook to the major problems with higher education – really going after the ‘racket’ of higher ed with some incredible truths (last 25 minutes or so). Really great long interview (I watched it over 5 sessions)

Video of Peter Thiel discussing Mark Zuckerberg’s impact in specifics. Good short video (6:30).

Well? Pretty thoughtful, insightful guy huh? Feel free to send any great Thiel content you come across.

BTW, interested on my views of higher education, founders and innovation? Check out Campus Frontier: High Growth Student Startups at US Colleges and Universities.

 

 

 

Campus as Frontier: High Growth Student Startups at US Colleges and Universities | #highered #entrepreneurship #startups #ecdev #TTO

Yes, I defended by dissertation in mid July, all the paperwork has been processed and the degree conferred. My dissertation, Campus as Frontier: High Growth Student Startups at US Colleges and Universities is now available via the Mason Archival Repository Service.

Here is a bit of the abstract:

This dissertation explores the complex social phenomena of students at US colleges and universities creating high growth firms and investigates the role, if any, played by the campus during the firm formation process. This dissertation employs mixed methods to better understand student entrepreneurs, their firms and the institutions where opportunity identification and firm formation processes began. Given the gap in the literature surrounding high growth firms created by students, no hypothesis is proposed or tested.

Feel free to email any thoughts, ideas, or questions.

PhD Update: Entrepreneurship, Students, and Universities

I am in the final month of my dissertation at George Mason University. This blog grew out of my early research, as did the twitter handle Campus_Entre. I’ve learned a great deal and am happy with the database of high growth student entrepreneurs, their firms, and schools, as well as the case study of the University of Chicago. cover_frontier_quote

I also developed basic campus ‘pathways’ based on themes that emerged from the qualitative and quantitative data collected.

The question of whether the campus offers frontier attributes (liberty, diversity, and assets) is the center of this research. This portion of the paper uses the ideas of Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis.

Moreover, if the campus does in fact offer frontier attributes and supports ‘frontier outcomes (new norms, innovative products, new organizations, and socio-economic change), how can we replicate these attributes in other organizations, institutions and sectors?

The Rise of the Hacker Space | Update on 3D Printing Venture Camp @GeorgeMasonU

This evening, I was able to work with Arlington Economic Development and Amplifier Ventures in putting on a 3D Printing Venture Camp event at GMU’s Arlington Campus. Dan Wilson of TechShop and Brian Jacoby of Nova-Labs, both hacker spaces, exhibited and sat on our panel.

Turns out that the NY Times published a piece on maker spaces today. Wonder if I can talk someone at Mason into funding maker spaces on our campus? Can we evolve MCSE coworking space and our Startup Mason curriculum into a maker space. We already have innovators from business, liberal arts, comp sci, electrical engineering, physics and design hanging out in our space.

Venture Camp tonight with multiple displays of printers, scanners, and exhibitors talking of materials sciences, rapid prototyping and the evolution of design and manufacturing. Its time for Mason to get into this emerging space.

From Steven Kurutz of the NY Times in The Rise of the Hacker Space:

Hacker spaces like MakerBar — where people gather to build or take things apart, from rockets to circuit boards to LED displays — are hives of innovation, real-world communities made possible by the emergence of virtual communities.

Businesses like Pinterest and MakerBot have grown out of hacker spaces, which have become networking venues for engineers and inventors. But at their most basic level, the 200 or so hacker spaces across the country function as a modern stand-in for the home workshop, especially in urban areas.

It’s no accident that some of the earliest and most popular hacker spaces, like Noisebridge in San Francisco and NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, are in cities where living spaces tend to be small, real estate is expensive and having a home workshop is a pipe dream for all but the very lucky or very wealthy.

“The 1950s version of tinkering was doing it in your garage,” said Dale Dougherty, who as the founder of Make magazine and its popular get-togethers known as Maker Faires is a patron saint to the hacker community. “A lot of people in urban settings don’t have that.”

“Sometimes these hacker spaces are not much bigger than a garage,” he said. “But people can’t organize their home into a workshop.”

via The Rise of the Hacker Space – NYTimes.com.

Venture College @BoiseStateLive Launches in August

Received a thoughtful email from Greg Hahn at Boise State University the other day telling me about their new Venture College. Sounds very exciting and it seems they have buy in and support from the entrepreneurial community in Boise. Can’t wait to hear about their incoming class. From Venture College’s homepage:

Venture College prepares students to launch businesses or nonprofits. This new, non-credit program is open to all full-time students in any major , especially non-business students. Students who successfully complete the program receive the Boise State University Venture College Badge.

Start-up is Fall 2013. While the application deadline has passed, we are accepting applications for the wait list. If you would like to submit an application and be added to our wait list click here to apply. We expect to notify wait list applicants on May 15 as to whether or not there is room in the program.

Interestingly, when you visit the Why Venture College page you read this…

Boise State is taking a leadership role in developing models to teach the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.  We are challenging traditional educational strategies and piloting new methods for superior, relevant education. One of the new models is Venture College, a skills-based program that will prepare our students, especially non-business students, to launch enterprises of economic and social value, some while they are still students.

Venture College will provide self-paced, on demand access to knowledge, intensive mentoring and an opportunity to compete for resources needed to start a business.

Venture College is a unique university-wide initiative independent of any academic college and structured as a concurrent, non-credit program for degree seeking students.  This independence from traditional course, credit and accreditation requirements frees Venture College to deliver an innovative and rigorous non-traditional experience for those students, regardless of discipline, who have a passion for starting their own businesses or working in new ventures.

Pretty exciting, glad to have learned about Venture College at Boise State and we’ll see what the Broncos come out with and what the playbook looks like in August 2013 when the first class begins.

via Venture College | Green light your dreams.