On Business Schools and Venture Capital...what we teach

Recently, I've been following with much interest the discussion taking place over on Sramana Mitra's site. In the past three weeks, she has facilitated a rich dialogue about the extent to which business schools are teaching the right stuff regarding entrepreneurship. Normally, I don't jump in to these discussions, but I've felt compelled to on two occasions. In this trackback I include what I posted in reply to her question: "What DO B-schools and E-programs teach about venture capital?"
"I read through these responses and found most interest in what Scott Lenet wrote above. In particular, I wholeheartedly agree with his call for the “primacy of market validation.” Just yesterday in class, a student told me she’s been working on her idea for six years and is just now feeling like she’s getting to the stage where she can talk about it enough to pitch it at our campus Quick Pitch Competition. I encouraged her (okay, maybe I was a little stronger than just encouraging) to get out of the workshop and onto the street to see if her idea has any legs.

From my research on nascent entrepreneurs, I’ve found this recurring theme over and over again: entrepreneurs who haven’t gone through a business school get to the street faster than those who are *unfortunately* burdened with the idea that before you can get your idea out, you have to write a 40+ page business plan. The reason I say, unfortunately, is due to my realization that they’ve often learned this under the tutelage of my colleagues in business schools across the country.

Scott’s other call for more and multiple idea generation is well-reflected in what my students do in their “3 for 3 Presentation.” They have 3 minutes to present 3 new product or service ideas. Simply put, the focus is on idea generation and not idea refinement. I like to think that this directs the students away from “painting lipstick on a pig” and more toward “making something”, “adapting to feedback”, seeing how it fails and iterating quickly."
We have to get their ideas out there. So many times, would-be-entrepreneurs fiddle and faddle with their idea and lose the spark that originally set them on their way. Try, test, revise...that's the key!

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