Kothari says Pulse may not have even existed if Gupta and he had not attended the Launchpad class, where some of Stanford’s most lucrative entrepreneurs cut their teeth. Introduced in 2010, in its first semester, 11 products and services were launched, collectively earning over $100,000 in revenue by the last day of class!
“The whole point of the class is to launch a product within the 10-week course period. In fact, we all signed a paper saying we wouldn’t pass the course if we didn’t launch. The beauty of the class, taught by Michael Dearing and Perry Klebahn, were the short exercises that we did every week. The two professors nudged us to think about everything–distribution, marketing and finance,” says Kothari.
It was believed that entrepreneurship was something genetic, that it couldn’t be taught. But B-schools over time have started getting better and better at ‘creating’ entrepreneurs. The idea that entrepreneurship could be taught in a classroom was championed by a few maverick professors who introduced entrepreneurship classes more than 20 years ago. The issue is being revisited, as entrepreneurial ventures or businesses that capture the benefits of uncertainty are being seen as the need of the hour.
Instead of teaching entrepreneurship in business schools using a planning- based mindset, which works well in teaching managers, leading universities are opting for an entrepreneurial mindset to nurture entrepreneurs.
In Harvard’s i-lab, some student teams will work as part of established courses while other student teams will work independently. For example, interdisciplinary student teams from Harvard, MIT and Tufts University, with backgrounds in business, government, law, medicine, engineering and science, will be part of a course that will be jointly taught by HBS and SEAS (Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences).
Entrepreneurs say they learn from their mistakes, and what better place to mess up than in the relatively cozy cocoon of a university? “Most importantly, I think I learned that creativity is always in hindsight,” says Gupta. “It’s not about just coming up with the one genius idea that solves the problem, but trying and failing at 100 other solutions before arriving at the best one. And the Stanford d.school [Institute of Design] taught me to fail fast.”
Creativity is indeed often hindsight, especially for beginning entrepreneurs. For veterans it may not be, because creativity accumulates so they can bank on the earlier successes/failure to come up as forward seeing creativity.
Two more things agree with what I have been preaching for IMBA: multi-disciplinary and cross breeding between business and engineers