Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®—Innovation & Creativity: Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® best describes the mindset and behaviors of entrepreneurs who can think and act not only as a rational scientist, but also as someone who can lead and navigate creatively in uncertain environments. Entrepreneurs understand that the traditional scientific method of analyzing and then acting does not always work when faced with business problems in an environment that has high levels of uncertainty. It requires a mode of thinking long popularized by serial entrepreneurs and innovators—to act, learn, and build. This is the essence of ET&A™—to act your way into tackling unknown problems with unknown solutions.
The Entrepreneurial Journey—Start to Scale to Exit: Globally, the most common forms of financing entrepreneurial ventures are family and friends. While those are great starting points, these forms of funding do not really bring in other key resources—access to talent, business networks, and mentoring. Moreover, the ability to raise external financing often validates the idea and converts the idea into an opportunity. Most importantly, this sets the entrepreneurial team on a disciplined path toward growth and perhaps an eventual exit. Understanding this journey is key to building scalable businesses.
Innovation Dynamics and Disruption: Innovation is very democratic. Startup firms with very little resources are able to disrupt incumbent firms with lots of resources. We have seen this happen across almost all industries. Understanding the nuances of this phenomenon is very helpful for entrepreneurs to enter and grow inside even the most challenging industries. In some situations, the incumbents may respond vigorously to new entrants. But, for the most part, entrepreneurs have the ability to either stay under the radar or outwit the incumbents.
Business Model Innovation—Borrowing from Other Industries: One of the most prevalent forms of innovation is cross-industry pollination of ideas and solutions. Yet, business school students are very reluctant to copy and replicate successful business processes and models. This usually stems from their academic training and obsession to find “unique” business value propositions and to constantly innovate and change things.
Growing Pains—The Challenging Path to Increase Valuation: This session explores the challenges and opportunities associated with entrepreneurial management and growth. We will focus on the decisions of high-growth owners/managers in recognizing and choosing opportunities, obtaining and allocating resources, challenging and directing personnel, and adapting personal goals and corporate strategies to changing personal business conditions. There are a myriad of important issues for rapidly growing companies, including building leadership capabilities, forming early-stage strategic alliances, learning how to compete in a complex marketplace, establishing and communicating vision, cash planning, and maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit in a growing organization.
Digital and Agile Marketing for Startups: Over the last decade, the landscape of marketing has shifted significantly toward digital tools and agile methods. Starting with the foundational aspects of segmentation, targeting, and positioning, this session will examine the penetration of these tools and methods into a variety of marketing activities like attracting, retaining, and building individual relationships and managing customer communities.
Scaling-Up Operations—Building Deep and Distinctive Capabilities: The world does not have a startup problem. It has a scale-up problem. For instance, only about 10% of nearly 6 million firms in the U.S. have more than 20 employees. In Brazil, 99% of all firms have less than 50 employees. There are many benefits for enterprises to scale—they innovate more, they are more productive, they pay better employee benefits, etc. Luckily, one can learn the methods and the tools and acquire the skills to scale. Finally, at the firm level, all entrepreneurial ventures are about constantly pivoting from one business model to another until they find the one that can be profitably scaled.
'Shark Tank'—Articulating Opportunities to Attract Resources & Funding: "Shark Tank" is a very popular reality TV show in the U.S. Many Babson students—including David Zamarin '19, Abby Speicher MBA'15, and Jamie Siminoff '99—have pitched their entrepreneurial ventures on "Shark Tank" and some have received funding from famous investors on the show. The entrepreneurial journey of finding the innovation opportunity, articulating the opportunity, and finding resources is a process that all entrepreneurs have to undertake. During Babson Build, all participants will work in diverse teams to identify, filter, develop, and articulate an entrepreneurial opportunity. This will culminate in a 10-minute “Shark Tank”-style presentation to the entire audience at the end of the week.