Are Entrepreneurs born that way? Or can they be created?
We believe that anyone can be nurtured to develop the mindset and skillset required to be an entrepreneur. These qualities of a Pre-entrepreneur are primarily Self-efficacy, Inventiveness, and a sense of enterprise.
The Research at MIT by Prof Rajesh Nair was to study if these qualities could be developed in youth who did not have exposure to existing entrepreneurship environments. We did experiments in rural colleges where we trained selected students in making, critical thinking, problem-solving, and elements of entrepreneurship and showed significant changes in their outlook.
A substantial number of these students went on to create their first startup within the first year. The students who attended the workshop attracted others to the culture of making and entrepreneurship and helped create a Ripple Effect that led to the creation of a sustainable ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
The pre entrepreneurship journey of the individual is designed in four stages
The uninitiated youth, with unrecognized potential, pursuing an ostensibly 'steady job.' Most of these students have gone through the college curriculum with disinterest or without fully appreciating the context or application of what they have learned. They do not have the confidence to take on challenges outside their zone of competence.
The creative thinker, and doer. The individual learns to think outside safe spaces, connect disparate ideas, and design and make things. Essentially this individual needs to think of products as physical, electrical, and logic systems in addition to the user experience element. These may sound like impossible skills to gain. When a child makes simple toys with existing resources and plays with them, the imagination and creation so applied achieves similar goals. What if we can make youth or, for that matter, any individual learn these skills in a fun and creative way? A maker is primarily about imagining, ideating, creating, building, and playing without thinking about solving world problems.
The problem solver. This individual is someone who can synthesize information from observations, cause interactions and available data to get to the core of unmet community/human needs, and create and validate solutions that are feasible and viable. At this stage, these individuals learn to use empathy as a tool to get to the core of the problem. The innovator can recognize problems as opportunities for change and can evaluate them as candidates for social impact or financial gain.
The value creator. He is one who understands the specific customer whose pain from the said problem is significant and has the means of paying for the solution. The entrepreneur converts a theoretical opportunity into a commercial one, through creating infrastructure, such as an organization, a team, suppliers, and sales channels, all from resources that she did not possess.
The supporting community, consisting of makers to entrepreneurs as role models, that attracts new candidates and nurtures them through their developmental process. As products and startups emerge from the ecosystem, it attracts new candidates. This approach builds a growing entrepreneurship ecosystem from the ground up. The journey of an individual through these stages is primarily to build skillset and mindset that are needed for entrepreneurship to a phase we call Pre-entrepreneur.