Redefining a Word: Revealing Students’ Entrepreneurial Spirit

When Babson launched in January 2012, no one could have guessed that the site would draw visitors from all 50 states and more than 140 countries around the world. But, it did.

“Entrepreneurship is looking at the world with opportunistic-colored glasses.”

— Ross Simons ’13

The site, part of the Mission: Redefine Entrepreneurship campaign, is the hub of the effort to redefine the conventional dictionary definition of entrepreneurship. Babson always has believed that the word is a mindset, not a job description, and, now, on this crowd-sourcing platform, the school is inviting the world to share their beliefs about the word. In just a few months, thousands of people have rewritten the meaning of entrepreneurship, affirming the message at the core of the campaign: The World Needs a New Definition of Entrepreneurship. It’s Being Written Here.

Recently, Babson decided to up the ante, running a weeklong contest to see which definition of entrepreneurship was the crowd favorite. Members of the Babson community were asked to vote for their top pick. As added incentive, the winning definition was promised a spot in an ad in Babson Magazine, and the winning writer guaranteed an iPad.

This sent the highest vote getters into action. Using their brains and their networks to curry favor with voters, a few undergraduate students proved the entrepreneurial spirit and competitive drive is alive and well at Babson. Contestants raced around the library late at night asking friends to favorite their definition. Some pulled all-nighters to reach their networks through social media. A few even visited the marketing office to generate buzz about the competition. The entire campus was following the contest as if it were a major sporting event.

The top three definitions each received hundreds of “favorites,” but racking up the votes wasn’t an easy task. “I knew other people might have larger friend networks than me,” said Ross Simons ’13, “but I knew they didn’t have a larger network than me plus a number of my friends’ networks.” So, Simons picked several friends whom he knew would help him out and asked them to copy and paste a message on his behalf to all their online friends.

Jake Shaver ’15 offered up one of the more concise definitions: “Entrepreneurship is that insatiable drive to create a dent in the universe.” He says it was inspired by one of his idols, Steve Jobs. “In the film Pirates of Silicon Valley, the actor portraying Jobs is talking to Ridley Scott during the filming of the famous 1984 Apple ad, stating that their purpose is ‘to create a dent in the universe,’” he explains. “I believe that the nature of a true entrepreneur is to inspire and create change.”

Shaver says his definition aligns with his personal goals in becoming an entrepreneur, “which is to go to Detroit and drop the auto industry on its head.” Similarly, self-described serial entrepreneur Daquan Oliver ’14 says his definition is how he lives each day: “Entrepreneurship is the way you live life. Approaching obstacles with ambition and hunger. Ready to go through, around, under, or over everything in your path. When you haven’t eaten in days, No is not an option.”

“Anything I’ve deemed worth having, no matter how big or small, I’ve had to go and take,” elaborates Oliver. “So hunger and ambition are essential to me, and it’s those qualities I bring to my company Day Oli Promotions, a one-stop source for promotional products and creative services.”

In the end, the winner was Simons, who penned: “Entrepreneurship is something fundamental to the way a person looks at the world.” Unlike a typical person whose thoughts remain just thoughts, an entrepreneur “thinks a thought, turns it into an idea, and then an opportunity. Entrepreneurship is looking at the world with opportunistic-colored glasses.” With more than 475 votes and counting, Simons’ definition appears in the Summer 2012 issue of Babson Magazine, while Shaver’s and Oliver’s definitions will appear in future marketing collateral. “I held a pizza and ice cream party to thank everyone for their support,” Simons said.

Think you have an even better definition? Add it now at