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Even with the most intuitive educational material, sometimes the most important thing a students needs is the ability to ask questions. For entrepreneurs, who are often lifelong learners, this is essential to the application of the material to their business. While online learning can facilitate opportunities to learn lessons anytime, anywhere that might not otherwise be available, the opportunity to engage directly with experts creates important connections and discussions.
During my years at the Kauffman Foundation I have seen firsthand the effect that education can have on the development of entrepreneurs and their companies. The entrepreneurs with whom I have worked have taken the lessons they have learned and applied them to great effect in their endeavors as founders. These entrepreneurs benefited from opportunities to learn critical skills, and from gaining an understanding of crucial decisions or junctures that often can derail entrepreneurial businesses.
Last week, we hosted Ice House Facilitator Training here at the Foundation. We had people come from across the country and the international community to be trained in how to facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset to members of their community. I had the chance to sit down with one of the facilitators, Rob Elwood, and learn about his reason for coming to this training, and how he sees it benefiting his community in Annapolis, Md.
I recently returned from participating in the 2nd Annual Rome Forum of the Harambe Entrepreneurial Alliance, hosted by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
You don't need to spend countless hours in a classroom, or have an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs often don't have the time or patience to sit through a semester long class or six-week course in order to retrieve the answer to a question they have now--today. They need help quickly and efficiently. And this is where our idea for Founders School started.
Our founder, Ewing Marion Kauffman, once said: "It's your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed". He was talking to entrepreneurs: those people who create new ventures, building visions into reality. Indeed, entrepreneurs are uncommon in many ways. They create something from nothing. They see problems (and solutions) that others might not. They take personal and financial risks.
At the Kauffman Foundation, we recently announced a grant to a group that is trying to map and track where startups are around the world. The project--Startup Genome--is working "to build the most complete and accurate database of the world's startup communities, present it in useful, beautiful ways and provide tools and reports that community builders can use to gain insight into what's happening in their community. And make better decisions about how to grow it."
Thriving entrepreneurial hot spots do not just pop up overnight. It takes more than a few growing startups to turn a city intro a hub of entrepreneurial activity. This thought is confirmed by a new Kauffman Foundation white paper entitled “Path-Dependent Startup Hubs – Comparing Metropolitan Performance: High-Tech and ICT Startup Density”.
In this installment of my Ice House series, I sat down with Ice House alum Chris Vallee to learn first hand what he got out of the entrepreneurship program. Vallee, an intern at the Kauffman Foundation, attended the program two years ago at Johnson County Community College. Signing up for the class by chance, he quickly found a new perspective on the decisions he had been making in his life, and a renewed, invigorating urge to chase the life goals he had let fall by the wayside.
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