Back-in-the-day, working in corporate healthcare at Becton Dickinson, I didn’t know how to spell the word, “entrepreneurship”. Even though three prior generations of my family had built businesses, that word would have been confusing at best since all that was talked about around the kitchen table was “the stores”. It was the stores, open six days a week and Friday nights where my grandfather, father, mother, and me and my brothers worked. It was never thought to be anything special.
Years later, while climbing the corporate ladder at BD, I stumbled into the MIT Enterprise Forum monthly events, which today we would call “shark tanks”, except that in those early years of MITEF, our events were much more thoughtful, pointed and instructive than anything seen today in today's very superficial and often-time, just plain stupid, made-for-prime-time-media.
And that’s when I fell in love with the concept of learning about, and then the teaching of the underlying tenants of entrepreneurship, taking on volunteer committee roles and becoming MITEF chairman with an extraordinary group of other women and men who merely wanted to give something back. Some of that giving back was to MIT, most of it was directed to the coaching of very early stage entrepreneurs and some of it, and especially in my case, was just figuring out what defines success and, of course, failure, in the practice and science of entrepreneurship.
Over the years at MITEF, I had the experience multiples times of being on all sides of that event table as a coach, as a facilitator and as an entrepreneur. For me, there was no better a place at that time for preparation of my understanding of the fundamentals for entrepreneurial success...and, of course, failure
Two decades later of teaching at MIT and Tufts and being part of the founding teams of nine startups, along with years of being a venture guy in two early stage funds, Common Angels and 100 plus deals, I think of myself still as a student of entrepreneurship. What I do understand pretty well today is …
- The basics of why startups fail
- The math of financials, money and fundraising
- The science of marketing and sales as it applies to startups
- The intricacies of creating a lasting cohesive management team
entrepreneurship can be taught...very well, btw!
I also understand that entrepreneurship can be taught, and that it’s much more a science than an art, even though, just yesterday, I had a well-known Tufts alum in my office strongly arguing against that point.
At Tufts, after 15 plus years of teaching in the department and watching the results of 800 students a year come through the rigorous education provided by 16 real-world professors, I know that:
- 25% of our students are involved in a startup team ranging from "concept" to "business plan"
- Classrooms provide 60-75% of the learning of what it will take to start a business
- 25-40% comes from experiences learned from other entrepreneurs at events and workshops
- 90% + of the successes result from having very close relationships with experienced coaches
- 60% + of successes come from two or three co-founders. Actually, three is the best number.
- Of course, the majority of the startups fail, and yet, the failures will not fail due to the idea.
Today, I have the privilige of running TEC-Tufts Entrepreneurship Center and by returning to my event roots, we are hosting next Friday, the 22nd, an extraordinary opportunity for you to engage, to learn, and to question a wide variety of very successful entrepreneurs, venture investors, and startup coaches.
If you are in any way interested in entrepreneurship, you owe it to yourself to come over, hang out, share your experience and, just as I will be doing, learn about the excitement of what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
And btw, The Founder's Workshop is no cost plus ice cream at lunch provided by Tufts alum, Dan Schorr, CEO & Founder of Vice Cream. Dan has an incredible personal story of founding a very successful company in the highly competitive food market, personal drive and beating the odds as a cancer survivor.
Lunch and that wonderful Vice Cream will come just after you listen to Tufts alum, Art Papas, CEO of Best-Place-to-Work-in-Boston, Bullhorn talk about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur of one of the best companies in America.
Following lunch and Vice Cream, when you will be engaging with our expert panels of six early stage venture investors, you will have incredible opportunity to engage in an interview-format with Tufts-related, Bob Stringer, one of the top leadership experts in the U.S., a noted venture investor and the author of the recent best selling book on just how the best startups make it happen along with exacting specifics on how to find and hire the right startup team. Join in the questions, field an answer or two, and based on those answers, 10 individuals will have an opportunity to leave with a free copy of this highly acclaimed best-seller, Culture.com
See you on the 22nd ! Make sure that you connect with me when you come !!!