Tag Archives: startups

Do College Drop Outs Thrive?

The WSJ ran the headline, College Dropouts Thrive in Tech, a couple of weeks ago (sub required). The article highlights well known dropouts (Jobs, Zuckerberg) and Thiel Fellowship winners, even referring to one as a wunderkind (a concept I reference in my forthcoming research on student entrepreneurs at US colleges and universities).

From the piece ,

Messrs. Weinstein and Kramer live at Mission Control with 10 others, including two women; half are under 21 years old. Three, including Messrs. Weinstein and Kramer, are Thiel Fellows. The house was originally leased by fellowship organizers for grant winners; other young entrepreneurs moved in as some initial residents left.

More dormitory than frat house, there is more working than partying at Mission Control. Residents come from varied backgrounds with diverse interests, but share some common traits: a brush with early success, disillusionment with the education system, an irreverent world view and healthy self-confidence.

The housemates share their schedules through a Google calendar and conduct group chats on Facebook Messenger, alerting each other to events like Wine-and-Cheese Wednesdays, Freestyle Fridays, and house dinners. There are impromptu all-night sessions of role-playing games such as Werewolf, but the most popular activity is tinkering with technology

I pulled the above quote because my research investigates whether the campus offers frontier like attributes that support innovation and entrepreneurship. The picture painted above provides some insight, but the data set — 2 Thiel fellows — is too small and not sure how representative these folks are of ‘dropouts.’

My data, which includes many students in the information industries — ranging from software and saas to e-commerce and search engines, includes notable dropouts, but most of the students that created high growth ventures while in school do in fact graduate.

Interesting commentary on the article over at Y Combinator Hacker News.

More to come. I will be defending my PhD in mid-July.

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?

News from the World of High Growth Student Startups | GrubHub | Packback Books | #Entrepreneurship #Dissertation

Been awhile lots of research and busy with new opportunities at George Mason Universities. The Campus is indeed the frontier. Three items from the frontier…

University of Chicago Booth School high growth startup GrubHub has filed for an IPO. From winning the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge to raising millions in venture capital, Matt Maloney‘s startup has been on the move.

Big celebrations in Chicago and at 1871 as a student startup from Illinois State, Packback Books, appeared on Shark Tank last week. They closed a deal with Mark Cuban. The company, founded Kasey Gandham, Mike Shannon and Nick Currier offers short term, pay per use digital textbook rentals. Kind of like renting a movie from itunes etc. Big changes in #highered #textbook market!

My dissertation, The Campus as Frontier for Entrepreneurship: High Growth Student Startups at U.S. Universities, will be completed in April 2014. The dissertation will include a case study, a database of high growth student entrepreneurs, their firms, and universities. Additionally, the work will propose 5 archetypes of high growth student entrepreneurs and will suggest a frontier framework for evaluating U.S. higher education and its value. I look forward to sharing this work as I complete by PhD from GMU’s SPP.

 

 

 

 

U of MD Birthed Legal River Launches New Products, Covered by NY Times

Great news continuing to come out of Legal River, a firm launched by MBA students at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business. This past week in partnership with General Counsel, P.C., Legal River released two new products for entrepreneurs: a Terms of Service Generator and a Privacy Policy Generator. From the entry by NY Times and Venture Beat contributor Nadia Majid:

Legal River’s tools are meant to keep costs low for entrepreneurs as they set up a business; typical terms of service documents can otherwise cost thousands of dollars. An entrepreneur only needs to fill in some basic information, such as the name of the company, information the company receives from a customer (for the privacy policy), and business structure (for the terms of service). The appropriate document is returned to the user online almost immediately, along with a version in HTML code, and the relevant policy is also emailed to the email address provided. Both tools are hosted on Legal River’s site and were developed by General Counsel, P.C.

Does Entrepreneurship Education Lead to More Start-ups?

NO, according to a new study from the Kauffman Foundation (did you expect someone else to publish an entrepreneurship study? — yes, there is a monopoly in entrepreneurship research, but that is a discussion for another day).

The Venture Capital Blog at the WSJ highlights the research by Dane Stanler and Paul Kedrosky. They find that recessions, taxes, venture capital levels, and entrepreneurship education do little to affect new firm foundation. In fact, they found that during the period 1977-2005, start-up levels remained nearly constant (fluctuating between 3-6% a year). Here is a snippet from the WSJ: Continue reading

Entrepreneurial Intensity at George Mason University

As the fall semester winds down, there has been a flurry of activity for me on the entrepreneurial front. As my course, New Venture Creation, came to a close, we held an in class business plan competition. Our 8 teams (5 members each) wrote business plans, and over the final two sessions presented 15-20 minutes pitches.

A variety of ideas were represented: from a premium day-care center offering unique, enriching after class programs (Tae Kwon Do / Piano Lessons / Languages) to an enhancement beverage startup targeting students, there were some great plans and strong pitches.

Two of the top teams were offered a spot in George Mason Universities School of Management’s 3rd Annual Dean’s Business Plan Competition on Friday December 11. In this competition, teams from various school’s and classes, compete for best business plan and best sustainable business idea.

The two teams representing my class did very well — earning 1st place, 3rd place, and the sustainability prize (the 1st place team). The top prize/sustainability prize winner was Breathe, the aforementioned enhancement beverage firm, and Rent-83, a graphing calculator rental startup targeting college students.

Finally, yesterday, I attended a great planning session for the Young Entrepreneur’s Academy that GMU holds each February. The academy is offered to aspiring entrepreneurs at GMU, other local colleges and schools, and local high schools.  Practical learnings and creative exercises are offered throughout the program and there are opportunities to network and ask specific questions about an idea or a startup.

It is exciting to be a small part of a growing, aggressive community of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators.

Great Advice for Entrepreneurs from Tim Berry

Some much of our time educating entrepreneurs and thinking about business opportunities is spent on trying to develop the next big thing. Trying to find a revolutionary concept to sell.

In his post Startups: Unique and Revolutionary, Or Forget it?, Tim answers a readers email on this topic and writes the following:

You don’t have to be first to be a success. You don’t have to be unique. You don’t have to be revolutionary.

What you do have to do, however, is give people value. Give them a reason to buy from you instead of from somebody else. You have to show up, open the doors, answer the phone calls, solve the problems and do whatever marketing you need so that people know it. How’s that for unique and revolutionary?

What I love here is Tim’s direct statement that you have to ‘give people value.’ This is a basic key to any successful venture. You must provide value.

While my business, Family Fantasy Sports, is the first to offer fantasy sports games designed for family play, we still work every day to provide value directly to our customers, knowing that simply just being here is not enough. It is why we host a radio show for our listeners online each week, why we give kids an opportunity to write about sports for our blogs, provide motivational quotes with our fantasy football results each week, and why we discuss and award college savings prizes each week.

We continue to try to add value through new services and products knowing that each time we do, the bar has been raised. I believe all great entrepreneurs are looking to add more value to their offerings that will have meaning to current and future customers.