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The Kauffman Foundation recently released a set of papers reflecting on the entrepreneurship activities taking place on campuses around the country. One of the things we have learned from the Kauffman Campuses, a program that encouraged interdisciplinary entrepreneurship education programs to discuss common practices and challenges, and from a group of experts we convened from entrepreneurial campuses around the country is that students are taking the initiative on campuses across the country, creating opportunities for themselves, and others, to engage in entrepreneurial opportunities.
Entrepreneurship is flourishing on campuses around the country. In classrooms and through co-curricular programs and competitions, students on diverse campuses, at universities large and small, representing disciplines across the spectrum, have the opportunity to understand the role of entrepreneurship in the economy, explore innovation, test their own ideas, and learn what they need to know to be entrepreneurs.
In a matter of weeks colleges and universities across the country will be teeming with students. A new school year will bring the excitement of new discovery, opportunities to meet new people, and the anticipation of learning. On these campuses students will also find a vast array of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship.
When I read Meg Hirshberg's book "For Better or for Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families" I knew instantly that I wanted Meg to join our slate of Founders School experts. The goal of Founders School is to provide entrepreneurs with crucial skills and knowledge, and to do so with an eye to topics that are important but rarely discussed in typical entrepreneurship education programs. The subject of Meg's book is just such a topic. We all know that entrepreneurs have to juggle a variety of considerations when founding a company: team building, assessment of product/market fit, intellectual property, and how to get that first important customer. What many entrepreneurs and, more importantly, their families, know is that there's a juggle on the family side of the equation as well, but it's one that many entrepreneurs may be reluctant to talk about.
"No business plan survives first contact with customers," Steve Blank says. What? Isn't the point of planning that you maximize the likelihood of success in the marketplace? Well yes, but perhaps not the kind of planning you might be thinking about. A business plan conceived on paper, powered by a great idea or invention, enhanced by research on the size of the market and a customer profile, has great potential. But it also has a crucial flaw.
Once you've heard the insight--that startups are different from big companies--it seems so obvious. Yet too often entrepreneurs, and those that teach them, approach the building of new companies with the same goals, staff structures and assumptions that motivate the management of large companies. Startup founders build teams to focus on engineering, and on the process of creating a product and bringing it to market.
In today's e-marketplace, allocating a larger portion of the budget to online marketing pays off for Petals, a silk floral company. The author writes about his company's commitment to using the Internet to positively impact sales.
Accenture's Liz Tinkham interviews salesforce.com's Polly Sumner about entrepreneurship that occurs in both large and small companies. They both agree that innovation and risk-taking occur in any-sized company where the culture emphasizes "no idea is a dumb idea." Sumner advises young entrepreneurs to not fear risk: every failure teaches you a valuable lesson, and once learned, success is that much sweeter.
Stephanie Tilenius is vice president and general manager for merchant services at PayPal, an eBay company. PayPal enables any individual or business with an email address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive
payments online. An eBay employee since early 2001, she is responsible for the strategy, growth, and financial performance of PayPal's merchant services group, the business unit providing payment solutions to small and large e-commerce
merchants. Before eBay, Tilenius was senior vice president of sales and marketing for PlanetRx.com, a company she co-founded and took public on the NASDAQ in 1999. Previously, she was vice president of business and product development for
Firefly, a software start-up that was sold to Microsoft Corp. in 1997. Early in her career, Tilenius spent several years as an investment banker at Deutche Bank Alex Brown, primarily focusing on software and telecom. In this capacity, she
worked on the Initial Public Offering for America Online in 1992, and she subsequently decided to join its corporate development group where she managed mergers, venture investments and strategic partnerships. Tilenius graduated with high
honors from Brandeis University where she earned both her bachelor's degree in economics and her master's degree in international finance. She also received her master's in business administration from Harvard Business School. Tilenius
also spent time as a presidential management intern through a two-year fellowship with the U.S. government where she worked for Treasury Secretary Brady and Carla Hills on Japan-U.S. trade negotiations.
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