Today was dedicated to a crash course on Entrepreneurship led by recently tenured Professor Michelle Rogan.
During the day, we discovered what makes and drives entrepreneurs and how entrepreneurs identify opportunities and turn them into profitable and sustainable new businesses.
Michelle used a combination of interactive group breakouts, case studies, videos and numerous examples to bring entrepreneurship alive for us.
During the morning, we discussed how successful entrepreneurs think. We learnt about the myths associated with entrepreneurship. For example, did you know that successful entrepreneurs are “risk removers” not “risk takers”? That they combine doing the things they love AND things that people will pay for? That research shows small ideas with proven markets work better than “blue sky” ideas?
We also discussed about our favourite products and services – for a good number of us, it was our iPhones!
We were also introduced to terminologies such as “Product Market Fit” and “Value Proposition” and learnt that after generating a business idea, entrepreneurs need to test their value propositions and achieve product-market fit before growing their business any further.
Michelle said: “There are three main factors that set entrepreneurs apart from the norm. Entrepreneurs think differently; they use cognitive processes and effectual reasoning to achieve a realistic and successful outcome. They make sure to test business ideas – it’s a learning process, and they make multiple iterations before moving the process forward. The most crucial step is achieving product market fit before growing the business any further. This marks the difference between products that succeed and products that don’t.”
We also talked about world-renowned innovators and how they question, observe, network or/and experiment over the course of their entrepreneurial journeys. For example, we learnt that Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, studied calligraphy at university and was able to use this unique skill to completely revolutionise computer design, therefore giving Apple an edge over its competitors.
In the afternoon, we moved to how entrepreneurs act and build successful ventures. Michelle used two case studies of businesses launched by INSEAD alumni to help us understand actions taken by successful entrepreneurs to lower risk and increase the potential for success of their businesses.
First, we discussed Michel & Augustin, a startup that aimed to do for cookies in France what Ben & Jerry’s did for ice cream. Michel & Augustin sells a range of traditional French sablés as well as yogurt drinks, chocolate mousse and many other yummy products.
A bonus at breaktime was that we got to taste the sablés!
Through this example, we were able to understand the risk associated with entering into the highly competitive culinary market, as well as the rewards that careful audience targeting can reap when passion pays off.
The second case study was about the Google Cultural Institute- an illustration of Corporate Entrepreneurship. The Institute is an on-line platform that partners with museums around the world to make artwork accessible for everyone and for free. Want to know more about it, watch this video.
We watched a TED talk by Amit Sood, the spearhead of the Google Cultural Institute, and discussed the advantages for Google, a private company, of providing a completely free resource, encouraging art appreciation, and giving back to the global community.
By the end of the course, it became clear that any one of us has the potential to become a successful entrepreneur. Now, we know that “It’s not magic. It’s not mysterious; and it has nothing to do with genes. It’s a discipline and, like any discipline, it can be learned.” Peter Drucker in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (1986)
It inspired many of us to consider becoming an entrepreneur in the future.
We look forward to visiting Michel & Augustin and the Google Cultural Institute in the forthcoming weeks!
Scarlett, Pasha, Abdullah, Hajir and Taif