Living the Entrepreneurial Experience
I am on my way back from Elsinore, Denmark which is the home of the Kronborg Castle, thought to be the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I attended a conference with the theme of “Understanding Small Enterprises”. The topics included ways that small firms could ensure a healthy and safe lifestyle for their owner/managers and their employees. For the conference, we stayed at a retreat called LO Skollen, a site owned by the Danish trade unions. The Center was architecturally designed to showcase the lovely landscape that looks across the channel to the Swedish Coastline and, it houses an exquisite art collection of more than 1000 pieces. For three days we “lived” the Danish culture- the landscape, the smorgasbords, the medieval music, the art, and of course, the discussions about company culture and healthy lifestyles in entrepreneurial businesses.
This is reminiscent of how we think about entrepreneurship at Babson. A goal for our entrepreneurship program is to have students experience entrepreneurship as well as study it. For instance – our undergraduates may take a class “Living the Entrepreneurial Experience”. Students write business plans an execute on these during the semester- talking with customers, lining up suppliers and developing their products. A similar class at the MBA level, “Entrepreneurship Intensive Track” is designed the same way- students frequently launch their businesses before graduation. This past summer we launched a new Summer Venture Program. Students from 27 venture teams lived in the dorms, and worked in our Entrepreneurship Center incubator space for the summer. In all cases, the “living” experience enhances and speeds up the development of the ventures. One of the reasons we have been able to do this is the Entrepreneurship culture here at Babson College. Company culture is defined as a pattern of norms, attitudes, and norms across a social unit (Schein, 1983). At Babson, entrepreneurship is a learning objective for every student, it is embedded in our strategy and it is how we think about solving problems. But, the living experiences can take it to the next level. While we may not have medieval music and Danish Smorgasbords, entrepreneurship is a “lived experience” at Babson College.
Candida G. Brush, Professor of Entrepreneurship
Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurship
Chair, Entrepreneurship Division