Governments don’t create jobs – Entrepreneurs do!

Entrepreneurial Education Blog (jan-4-2014)

An entrepreneur is not a randomly selected person pulled from the crowd. They are people who are passionate about an idea. They have a problem to solve. A successful entrepreneur follows a validation process, whether that is consciously or unconsciously. Using this process increases the likelihood of getting products to market successfully.

Our current education system was designed and conceived for a different age and a different culture. Can you imagine if we had entrepreneurship, collaboration and divergent thinking as part of our education curriculum today? What if we created the space and environment for students to solve problems around them and collaborate with one another to build organizations? Think about the economic, social and environment benefits…

At Thousandseeds we are passionate about changing entrepreneurial education. Having spent time in Stanford with Steve Blank (Steve developed the Customer Development methodology) on the Lean Launchpad Educators module, we ran the Launchpad module in UCD, UCC and INSEAD.

In autumn 2013 we ran the lean Launchpad 12-week Entrepreneurship elective in the Engineering Department in UCD. We had 25 fourth and fifth year Engineering students. It was enlightening—a lot of work, but great fun with amazing outcomes! Thanks to the collaboration of Conor Hanley, the UCD Engineering team, our generous mentors for their time and great teaching assistants, we had fantastic outcomes.

Background to key elements of the Lean Launchpad programme:

  • It provides real-world, hands-on learning on starting a company.
  • It’s not about writing a business plan, instead it’s about learning how to create business models to brainstorm each part of a company.
  • custdevIt’s not about how smart you are in a classroom. Instead it’s about getting out of the building and talking to customers, partners and competitors and validating assumptions and see whether anyone would want the product.
  • It’s not an incubator where you build a “solution”. You learn the tools to validate the problem being solved & talk to individual customers.
  • It’s not a theory class. It uses a flipped classroom approach – participants collaborate and work in teams, learning how to turn a great idea into a company. Figuring out “is there a problem to solve?”
  • The goal (within the constraints of a classroom) is to create an entrepreneurial experience with all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early stage start-up.

“StarEntrepreneurial Education (red and blue cycle diagram) (4 jan 2014)tup success can be engineered by following the process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.” Eric Ries
I would like to share some enlightening feedback from our entrepreneurship participants.

“I used to think of entrepreneurship as some idea of grandeur that falls from the sky, hits one lucky person and they become a millionaire. It couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a process. The more you validate your assumptions the higher your chances of getting to market successfully.”

1000seeds - Entreprenuerial EducationThis form of course is rare in Engineering. Actually it’s rare in all faculties. In most courses we do lectures, listening and exams with lots of regurgitation. This was a flipped classroom approach, listening and talking to customers outside the classroom. It was unique!”

Collaboration was something that I never paid any attention to before this course. Now I understand its power.”

Failing an idea is not a bad thing as you can save yourself a load of time, energy and money. Life’s too short to create products that nobody wants. This was a major mind-shift for me”

“To build a successful startup you must “Get out of the building”

“I thought of Entrepreneurship as a risky area for dare-devils. Not true! This course 1000seeds - Entreprenuerial Educationhas opened my eyes. There are processes and frameworks to validate ideas and reduce the risk of startups failing”

“The assumptions we make about customers inside the building are nearly always wrong. Talking to customers is hard! Really listening is even harder however it’s a skill that can be practiced and learned.”

My mind-set has shifted. I now look around me and think – is that a problem I can solve and what-if ……?

Could that be you?