Entrepreneurship & Innovation

What does it take to be a good entrepreneur?

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Often entrepreneurs are referred to as being some kind of vigorous heroe. As there is definitely a fair amount of courage involved, the answer to what it takes to be a good entrepreneur can’t be answered with: being born with super powers. One person who does have all the answers is Bill Aulet. Now a Professor of the Practice at MIT Sloan School of Management, he is changing the way entrepreneurship is understood, taught and practiced around the world. Aulet is an award-winning educator and author whose current work is built off the foundation of his 25-year successful business career – first at IBM and then as a three-time serial entrepreneur. During this time, he directly raised over a hundred million dollars and, more importantly, created hundreds of millions of dollars of shareholder value through his companies. Aulet was recruited as a chief financial officer in 2003 to lead a turnaround of the security company Viisage Technology. A new strategy was developed, adjustments to the operations and three acquisitions where made and within two and a half years, Viisage market value increased from $ 50 million to $ 500 million.

Thomas Andrea (Nucleus Scientific, Inc.) introduced Aulet, as they have known each other for more than ten years. “It's our goal to create a body of knowledge we enhance over time and apply to the world's challenges,“ Aulet starts his talk with this statement. He believes that the metric at MIT shouldn´t be how many companies do we start, but how many entrepreneurs we produce. The demand for entrepreneurs is sky rocketing today. Everyone can be an entrepreneur. Aulet is convinced: “Entrepreneurship is not art, it´s a craft. It´s accessible to everyone and can be learned.” But “To have the spirit, to be a pirate, isn´t enough. You have to add the execution skill of a navy seal.”

Bill Aulets key take aways: • Entrepreurship can be taught and it is effectivly with our process. • The students appreciate there is value in our process to teach the craft of entrepreneurship – it is not just magic and mentorship • Entrepreneurship and companies evolve over time in a Darwinian manner – fluid teams are essential to optimize the learning process (as well as success)

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Bill Aulet
MIT Sloan School of Management
Professor of the Practice
MIT Sloan School of Management