As I’ve mentioned before, people often think entrepreneurship is a one-idea, one-shot game: you have a great idea and you pursue it until it makes you rich or makes you run back home. That’s a shame because it keeps people from exploring entrepreneurship as a career. It’s like thinking only rock stars can have careers in music. In truth, most entrepreneurs take part in multiple startups before launching their own, and they play many different roles besides the rock star. Continue reading
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster provides a great example of the educational value inherent in making mistakes. And, since the only thing that comes close to learning from failure is learning from other people’s failures, this is a great interview where he shares the main mistakes he made in his first company. Continue reading
The valley of death is an hackneyed term used to describe where startups run out of money. This can be solved, early earlier-stage investors and policy-makers contend, by giving them more money. I’ve argued before this is misguided. The reason why is a cautionary tale to anyone leading a new venture.
WSJ had a nice section recently on understanding entrepreneurs, Why Washington Has It Wrong on Small Business. In it, Professor Aaron Chatterji from Duke talks about how job growth comes from high-growth, not low-growth startups (companies younger than 5 years old). This insight mistakes hindsight for foresight but, more importantly, it puts the entrepreneurial cart before the horse.
Target Panic. What a great diagnosis. As soon as a read the term, I knew I’d suffered from it. Have you? Looking back, I can now see it in the would-be entrepreneurs and innovators I’ve worked with who, despite promising ideas and heroic efforts, never made much progress.
Albert Szent-Gyorgi, who won the Nobel Prize in 1937 for discovering vitamin C, once said “Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.”
When it comes to innovation, or its cousins invention and discovery, we tend to think of it as a process of discovering solutions. In fact, it is more often a process of discovering the right problems. Tom Kelley, of IDEO, talks so eloquently here about the value of finding the right problem in talking about how IDEO's designers were able to discover a new problem in what was essentially an old and mature market, kid's toothbrushes.
Elevator pitches are a great way to share some of the ideas that have been brewing here at the Biomedical Engineering Entrepreneurship Academy.
One of the first and easiest ways to prototype a potential venture is the well-crafted elevator pitch. With this in hand, anyone can get great feedback from potential customers, mentors, advisors, investors. Sure, you can communicate alot more detail with more time, but that leaves less time to listen and learn. Below are the BMEA2011 elevator pitches—all based on research being conducted in university labs around the country: