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Twenty-Four by Debi Kleiman, Executive Director, Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship

Debi Kleinman

Excited by the news that Babson’s MBA program, for the 24th consecutive year, has been named No. 1 for Entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report, I got to thinking about what 24 really means to us at Babson. After all, depending on your perspective, 24 can be a lot or not nearly enough.

For us, as the leaders in this field, 24 years is an awesomely long time to be No. 1 at something. In 24 years we’ve changed and grown this field enormously–innovating our educational methods and our programs to accelerate the practice of entrepreneurship. Yet in the larger picture, 24 years is likely only a very short amount of time when we think about how much is still to come for entrepreneurship education and harnessing its transformative power to help improve our world.

I spend much of my day with entrepreneurs racing in and out of my office. The other day, there was an entrepreneur in my office talking about his startup that he is working on while an MBA student here at Babson. He’s only 24 years old. He’s passionate about how people interact with technology and envisions a world where all our daily devices are connected and smart, making life better, healthier and more productive for everyone. He’s so young, yet he can see opportunity in places that others cannot. I know he’ll succeed given his education, his instincts and his willingness to take action.

This year, in our Butler Venture Accelerator program at the Blank Center, where we provide support, resources and connections for our student startups, we have piloted a program of 24 cohorts of entrepreneurs working together. These cohorts of peers meet regularly to share updates and ideas on their startups, give each other advice, and provide inspiration and experience for the group to accelerate their businesses. They relish the chance to be together, so many like-minded entrepreneurs from many perspectives and industries helping each other, to create a truly special community. In this case, I can’t wait for this number to grow past 24 and into the hundreds.

Last fall, we held our annual Rocket Pitch event where our entrepreneurs have three minutes and three Powerpoint slides to present their startup pitch. What amazing energy, what thrilling ideas! The creativity and ingenuity our students show as they practice what they’ve learned about creating new ventures, you have to see to believe. I watched 24 pitches that day (and that was only 1/4 of what was happening). That’s 24 beginnings to ventures that will impact people’s lives. Surely not all of them will succeed, but think about the learning that goes into this process and the experience that comes out.

And then, of course, there are 24 hours in every day. Never enough as we all know, but the Babson methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® teaches our students to make the most out of every hour by taking action, whether it’s pushing their startup to the next level or using an entrepreneurial mindset in a large organization to solve problems.

So here’s to 24 – a huge achievement and we’re only just getting started.