Talking entrepreneurship, startups and lean: an interview at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

On Monday 26th August Startupbootcamp’s co-founder Patrick De Zeeuw gave an afternoon presentation plus Q&A session at Hogeschool van Amsterdam on the topics of accelerators, lean methodology and entrepreneurship in education, amongst others. It was the first day back at school and about one hundred professors of IT were present to be inspired by the serial entrepreneur’s tour-de-force personality for the year to come. The information charted below comes from live polls conducted during the presentation.

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A significant portion of the audience did not know what an accelerator program or lean methodology was. Despite the constant reminders of how important entrepreneurship is to the economy there is still a huge gap in formal education between “theory” and “reality”. Also, the division of formal education into departments and offices further fragments the learning process and entrepreneurial capabilities, making it less likely for the right people to mix together to make those vital teams of entrepreneurs that blow everyone away with their innovations and ideas.

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Twoodo was there as a real-life example of an entrepreneur and the audience was very interested in hearing the reality of starting your own company. Twoodo pointed out how important it is to build your product or service based on constructive feedback from the right key people, rather than months of extensive market research. This comes from the principles of lean methodology. There was also an interesting discussion on perceptions of failure. In formal education, failure is not an option. For start-ups, “failure” is common but also an important learning experience.

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Ideas were put forward: have the students start a business as a project instead of a final year paper or assignment. Have more start-ups and entrepreneurs visit classes to talk to students about the reality and experiences of being an entrepreneur. Have the curriculum modernised to be relevant to what students need to know about starting a business rather than just a general idea of what it entails.

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These are all great steps that educators should take, and not just create Technology Transfer Offices and Knowledge Transfer Programs. Learning from real entrepreneurs and acquiring practical skills and knowledge should be what business and technology education is about on a daily basis, not just an occasional occurrence. Many students don’t realise their potential whilst at university. Many don’t pursue great ideas because they didn’t know how. Too many do not see how their knowledge can be formed into an exciting and profitable venture.

We hope change is implemented quickly before more of Europe’s brightest minds go elsewhere to find the knowledge and support they need.