Entrepreneurship Faculty Profile: Diane Mulcahy
Diane Mulcahy is an adjunct lecturer for Babson’s MBA program. Her class “Entrepreneurship and the Gig Economy” was named by Forbes.com as one of America’s Top 10 Most Innovative Business School Classes. Professor Mulcahy is a consultant and advisor to Fortune 500 companies and startups looking to succeed in the gig economy. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation and the author of three books.
What is your role at Babson? How long have you been at Babson?
I am an adjunct lecturer in the Entrepreneurship division and have been at Babson for 8 years.
Why did you come to Babson?
When I moved to Boston, Provost Patricia Greene introduced me to Babson and invited me to participate in events on campus. I was a venture capitalist so initially got involved at Babson by judging business plan competitions. I was interested in Babson because its focus on entrepreneurship meshed with my background in the VC industry, and I was interested in teaching.
What classes do you teach?
I created and teach a class called “Entrepreneurship and the Gig Economy” in the MBA program.
What area of research do you focus on?
I’m a practitioner. My experience and expertise is in venture capital industry, the gig economy, and the future of work. In 2016 I published a book called The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want. The book grew out of the class I teach and its focus is on helping individuals figure out how to navigate and succeed in the Gig Economy.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
To me, entrepreneurship has to do with taking initiative. My definition is broad and includes people who start a company, as well as individuals who strike out on their own as an independent worker and employees who create businesses and products and services within a larger company. Startup teams, solo-preneurs, intra-preneurs – they’re all entrepreneurial in my view!
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
More innovative solutions to persistent problems in society. We need to do a better job educating children by leveraging technology, and we need a better healthcare system (and services and devices) that focus on keeping people well, not just treating them when they’re sick. We need innovation to help us create a healthier food system, and reduce food waste, and we need more creative ways to finance and build infrastructure. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs today are good at solving small problems and finding incremental improvements that improve our daily lives but have demonstrated less success at innovating to solve the truly systemic problems in our economy and society.
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs?
Just do it! There is so much opportunity to start doing whatever you’re interested in. Don’t wait. Starting a venture or a side gig as a student is a low-cost, low-risk way to pilot, experiment, and gather information. In my class, I encourage students to get out from behind their computers and start taking action.
What do you think makes Babson unique?
The entrepreneurial students it attracts. Babson students come to campus and already have the mindset to take initiative and action.
What do you do for fun?
I love to travel, particularly to Ireland and Europe. I enjoy yoga, cooking, throwing dinner parties, running, and reading. A rainy Saturday afternoon spent tucked up on the couch reading a book is amazing. I also love the beach – in all seasons. I live in the city with my husband Kevin, who is also an adjunct lecturer at Babson, and we enjoy all the usual urban pursuits – theater, film, museums, and exploring neighborhoods.
Describe yourself in four words.
Direct, open, curious, and an introvert.
Anything else people should know?
I haven’t owned a car in over a decade. It’s so liberating! In my book, I talk about the idea and benefits of accessing rather than owning. In real life, I choose to access my transportation (by using the subway, walking, taking Lyft, or renting a Zipcar or Hubway bike), rather than own it!