Entrepreneurship Faculty Profile: Lakshmi Balachandra
Lakshmi Balachandra is one of the friendliest professors I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She walks around campus with a smile on her face and an interest in what her former students are involved in now. I know this because she was my FME professor! Professor Balachandra is persistent, dedicated, loyal, and silly, making any conversation with her a memorable one. During the first snow day of 2017, she called me to discuss what she loves about Babson and why entrepreneurs should be less patient.
What is your role at Babson? How long have you been at Babson?
I am an assistant professor of entrepreneurship, and this is my fifth year at Babson!
Why did you come to Babson?
Entrepreneurship is my research focus, and there is no better place to study entrepreneurship than at Babson. I also had known and admired several professors, including Dr. Candida Brush, who is a leader in the field of gender and entrepreneurship, for some time. When a position opened, I knew it was the right fit.
What classes do you teach?
As of now, I teach two sections of FME. I also research entrepreneurial negotiations, so I would love to teach a course on that topic in the future.
What area of research do you focus on?
I have completed several studies and my dissertation on what non-business-related aspects of the entrepreneur’s pitch influence investors. For example, does it matter if the presenter smiles or has a good relationship with the investor? I am interested in the interpersonal factors that happen during a pitch and how they influence an investor’s decisions. While this topic is gender-neutral, another area I research is women and venture capital funding, including what limits women and how they get capital.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Taking a risk and really doing something. Having an idea and putting in effort to see if you can build something with it. This can even include running for office!
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
Entrepreneurs need to recognize their impact on community and society rather than merely thinking of themselves as a “lone wolf.” By starting a venture you are building a community, housed in other communities (such as your office building and your neighborhood). What can your entrepreneurial actions do to make a meaningful impact?
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs?
Pick up the phone! I have noticed that this generation thinks they can get everything done by email and text, but entrepreneurs need to be persistent. This means calling people and knocking on doors to get what you want. Be a little less patient!
What do you think makes Babson unique?
This goes back to the idea of community that I want entrepreneurs to understand. Babson exemplifies this because there is a real ecosystem of support for students, faculty and entrepreneurs-to-be that is so unusual. People here, regardless of their division, are excited to help you and that environment is hard to find. It’s wonderful!
What do you do for fun?
Between spending time with my three young children, I have been reading Robert B. Parker novels every chance I get! I also love to travel.
Anything else people should know?
I never expected to be a professor. I started a business and worked in venture capital, so I never envisioned myself as a researcher or academic. However, this has been an extremely fun and rewarding experience- especially at Babson!