Wouldn’t it be Cool to Teach Entrepreneurship?

There’s no more rewarding work than being able to positively influence young minds.  That’s why the two times that I was able to speak to students at Skidmore College about “entrepreneurship as a career choice” mean so much to me.   Hopefully that hour I spent with them gives them a slightly different perspective to consider when deciding what to do after college.

Now imagine being able to do that every day.  That’s what Dr. Bill Wales, the professor of that class, does for a living.  He is devoting his professional life to teaching entrenreneurship.  Bill is a long-time friend of mine, and we often joke about how we’re envious of the other person – he wishes he could be on the front lines running a company, and I wish I could be molding the minds of future business owners.  It’s a very unique position to be in.  Classes like Bill’s can spur more start-ups, and in turn spur more innovation and help create a better economy for the future.

Much to my delight, Bill has started a blog.  I think the reason that most people read blogs is because they can bring a unique perspective on a particular subject matter.  Bill is a perfect example of that.  There aren’t many under-30 PhD’s in entrepreneurship who blog.  In fact, I’d guess that Bill is probably the only one.  His blend of teaching and business experience combined with the shear amount of research he’s done brings a totally different view of business than you get in most places.

The coolest thing about it is that his classes have already worked.  This past semester he gave two groups of students $100 each with the goal of creating $200 in revenue by the end of the semester.  He essentially seeded two small start-up companies.  And both were successful.

One group, called KD Energy, sells mini energy bars.  They were able to have the bars carried in several local stores and garnered quite a bit of local media attention…all in less than a semester.  The other group is selling a cook book with a twist – they have local restaraunts provide recipes and pay for ads on the recipe page (so a pizza place would provide a pizza recipe) with the guarantee that the cookbook will see X number of eye balls.  After solidifying the recipes and ads, they printed the cookbooks and tried to sell them (pretty successfully from what I hear).  But since there is the guarantee for number of eye balls on an ad, they told the advertisers that they would give the cookbooks out for free if necessary to meet that requirement.

Now imagine if every college offered a class similar to Bill’s.  And we had thousands of tiny college campus start-ups every single semester.  How fast would we jump the innovation curve?  Most importantly though, regardless of the success of the ventures, you’d be putting students into the future workforce that think like entrepreneurs.  I know I’d much rather hire someone who understands what it’s like to run a business, even if it’s something they’ll never do again.

5 comments on Wouldn’t it be Cool to Teach Entrepreneurship?

  1. Jay Lin says:


    I agree with you completely. I’m trying to take as many entrepreneurship classes as I can during my program. One of the professors said he didn’t understand why people would pay $3000 for a class that they’ll never use when they can try and start a company for less than $1000 that can bring in steady revenue.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Great point Jay. Sort of makes you wonder how good of an investment college is sometimes. Like anything else, you get out of it what you put in. I think I got a pretty good value out of my education, and it sounds like you are too, but I also know a lot of people who completely wasted $30k/year.

  3. Gordon says:

    They do something like this at Bucknell University for every freshman taking business courses. Each class starts a company – from HR through marketing and sales. The project lasts all semester, and some of the classes making many thousands of dollars, while others lose money big time.

    A great learning experience either way.

  4. Adam McFarland says:

    Awesome Gordon, I didn’t know that. Learn by doing, the way it should be everywhere.

  5. Dale says:

    Absolutely awesome. Will definitely check out his blog. I’m so sick of so-called Entrepreneurship class that teach you nothing and make you create 50 page business plans full of BS projections in order to get venture capital funding.

    There’s a seed planted in my head for a while now that’s starting to sprout how I can teach a real life entrepreneurship class (actually part of the reason for starting corporateprenuer.com)… I just figure I need a bit of real entrepreneurship experience before I can do it 🙂

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