Overview of the Entrepreneur Experience Lab

From the Babson Insight for Entrepreneurship Educators article Researching Entrepreneurship of All Kinds:® Snapshots of Five Distinctive Eras, by Heidi Neck

Babson College and Rhode Island’s Business Innovation Factory (BIF) have partnered to develop a pilot research platform for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds in the United States called the Entrepreneur Experience Lab. The longer-term plan is to get the lab running in the U.S., test the methodology, revise as needed, and then replicate the lab globally with partner institutions, recognizing that the experience of entrepreneurship in the U.S. can be dramatically different from the experiences of entrepreneurs in Chile, Thailand, Germany, Pakistan, or Nigeria.

We have two general objectives for the lab. First, we want to conduct design research grounded in ethnographic methods to map the experience of entrepreneurs in order for Babson and BIF to identify, create, and build new support solutions that will help build future generations of entrepreneurs. But, we will extend the boundaries of our research beyond “starting a new venture” toward a more expansive vision of studying Entrepreneurship of All Kinds. Second, as an academic institution, we also want to use the data collected in the lab to contribute to the scholarly conversations and maintain our thought leadership in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education. Our qualitative, ethnographic approach to the lab research requires us to develop empathy for the people we are studying, to really understand how they experience their experience of entrepreneurship. We are proud to say this is a different and compelling type of research.