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Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Challenges and solutions for women entrepreneurs

In a recent report from The Daily Finance, Dell had successfully launched its first female global entrepreneurship and development index, or GEDI, created to measure high-potential female entrepreneurship based on individual aspirations, business environments, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. According to the female GEDI, the U.S. was ranked the best country—number 1 out of 17 countries indexed—to be a female entrepreneur.

According to Professor Fiona Murray of MIT Sloan, however, women still have a long way to go. In an interview with Rob Matheson of MIT News, Murray expands on the specific inequalities in female entrepreneurship and what businesses and higher education can do now, to build a better future for female entrepreneurs.

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Entrepreneurship at MIT

In late January 2014, the Boston Globe ran a feature in its business section on MIT’s role in local entrepreneurship. In “MIT Retools to Aid Students in Startups,” Boston Globe reporter Michael Farrell asks “Is it possible MIT is feeling inadequate—insecure, even?” He points out that MIT is “facing increasing competition from around the corner and across the country,” citing Harvard University and Stanford University. The article goes on to detail a campus-wide initiative, led by MIT President Rafael Reif, to “make the school the unquestioned leader of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in the 21st century.”

It’s important to first point out that MIT is world renowned for its legacy of entrepreneurship. According to a Kauffman Foundation report, more than 25,000 active companies founded by MIT alumni have generated about 3.3 million jobs and $2 trillion in annual revenues. If they formed a nation, these companies would constitute the world’s 11th largest economy. US News & World Report also recently ranked MIT #3 in its college rankings for entrepreneurship.

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What’s really driving academic entrepreneurship

The last two decades have seen a rapid rise in innovation-driven entrepreneurship ventures born in academia. And while the path from classroom to commercialization is a long and winding road, a common-held belief in academic entrepreneurial circles is the assumption that faculty advisors are most often the primary traveler on the road to entrepreneurial success. New research suggests, however, that student innovators—who have more time and flexibility than faculty— drive the momentum of successful entrepreneurial ventures outside of school. (Learn more about the drivers of innovation-driven entrepreneurship in this innovation@work webinar with MIT Sloan Professor Bill Aulet.)

At the same time, studies show that these student innovators are heavily influenced by their faculty advisors, and the success of the academic entrepreneurial venture is largely determined by the students relationship dynamic with their faculty mentors. Lastly, studies also show that the relationships students form in competition greatly influence the success of their venture outside of academia.

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Launching a successful start-up #3: The beachhead market

This is the third and final post in a series on launching a successful startup. Read the first and second posts here.

In his book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, stresses the importance of searching for the holy grail of specificity: market opportunities where the target customer will meet, buy, and adopt your product or service. In the first post in this series on successful start-ups, we stressed the importance of the discovery stage—time spent brainstorming about product and service ideas, defining potential customers, and identifying industry matches. In the second post in this series we focused on finding the start-up sweet spot where your product or service meets not only a potential customer, but a targeted end user—the customer who will buy your product or service and become a loyal brand ambassador, persuading others to buy it, as well.

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REAP: A global program that addresses the intricacies of entrepreneurship

What makes regions more or less successful when it comes to entrepreneurship? What about Kendall Square has made the area such a powerful entrepreneurial hotspot?  These questions and others like them are considered during the new MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), currently offered as a joint program between MIT Sloan Executive Education and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Created in part to address the concerns of organizations that want to emulate the entrepreneurial spirit encompassed by MIT and the surrounding area, REAP is a multi-year program designed to help regions promote economic development and job creation by teaching participants how to implement a more robust, innovation-based entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, during the REAP 2012–2013 pilot program, cross-functional teams from Hangzhou (China), Finland, New Zealand, Veracruz (Mexico), Scotland, Andalucia (Spain), and Turkey conducted an action project focused on assessing the current state of entrepreneurship in their regions.

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