After about a month working on my post-doc research here at Stanford, I thought i try to wrap up what’s interesting regarding the local entrepreneurial practices at this university. The overview turned out rather long, but I am not to be blamed, they just do a lot of very interesting thinks here ;-)
The most remarkable aspect about entrepreneurship @ Stanford is that it seems to be everywhere, from the official classes to the way there is competition on opportunities regarding academic programs & registration for classes as well as the way the entrepreneurial knowledge is applied and marketed:“If you want to request a Stanford MBA student to develop a business plan for your company please see the Experiential Projects section. Please be aware that there is a constantly high demand for this.” (GSB site )
Also research is conceptualized as opportunity starting as early as possible e.g. with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Listing.
Or the way summer internships are integrated in the learning experience by sharing and reflecting upon them in fun outings:”Companies compensate students directly based upon guidelines set by the program. Students also participate in a 1-unit course (E140B). Each student hosts an open house at his or her company. There is a one-day summer retreat with all the MFP students and alumni.” Mayfield Program
d.School & Entrepreneurial Design
Entrepreneurship education as such is mainly located within the School of Engineering as well as the Business School. Both schools collaborate on many offers and since a few years they are offering an innovative inter-disciplinary design collaboratory the d.school (which was founded under the auspice of Hasso Plattner). I really recommend to take a look at their website, as it gives a pretty good impression of the creative „everything goes towards innovation“ atmosphere.During my first weeks here I was able to audit one of their flagship courses entitle „Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability” (by Prof. Patell, & Prof. Beach). I was profoundly impressed by the trans-disciplinary team based hands on approach to learning but even more by the fact that they students were meant to develop real solutions. After some warm up mini-projects – e.g. working to develop a realistic Point of View meant to allow the design of a effectively useful innovation for a given user group (in this case local homeless) – the student teams are challenged to find real solutions to problems they observe at field trips to partnering institutions in Ethiopia & Burma! Several real world products have been brought to the market as a result (one example is dlightdesign.com ). The course website is the place to find out more.
eWeek & Innovation Competition
As you can see, the key aspect of the educational efforts is aimed at fostering entrepreneurial mindset rather than teaching how to fill out a business plan template. Two additional example are the eWeek – a whole week of activities from bringing in successful entrepreneurs as role models to elevator pitch competitions with real venture capital companies, to an innovation competition which since last year is held in several universities around the world. I really recommend watching the informative trailer of a movie that has been made about the last competition where student teams had to create the most value out of a pack of Post-it’s.
Weekly Entrepreneurial Tought Leader seminar (podcast)
On a constant basis this mindset forming approach is pursued by the interview sessions entitled the Entrepreneurial Thought Leader series . In this event (which is available every week as podcast) entrepreneurs, experts, VCs and business angels are sharing their experience in order to prepare the students with the right vision and expectation.
Course on Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Another course that I have heard very good things about (at the business school auditing courses is not allowed) is: Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities. The course website has quite some information and the videos show again how entrepreneurship education @ Stanford means having students work in teams and bringing in experts and entrepreneurs in order to inspire the students to find, refine and pursue opportunities.
Last but not least Stanford has quite an offering for and facilitates building up of a community of faculty teaching entrepreneurship: Firstly there is the Educators Corner bringing together hundreds of videos, textbook references, etc. and secondly they launched and are constantly expanding a global network holding a Roundtable on Entrepreneurship Education.
Note: There are much more courses on entrepreneurship at Stanford, a pdf with a selection made by GSB’s Center for Entrepreneurship is available here
HastaLaVista Max Senges