An Irish economist Richard Cantillon first coined the word entrepreneur, and described it as someone who is able to begin, sustain, and when necessary, effectively and efficiently dissolve a business entity. He answered the question "What is an entrepreneur?", but did not answer "How do you become an entrepreneur?" And that is exactly what Duke Entrepreneurship Education Series aims to do.
In September this year, the Duke Entrepreneurship Education Series (DEES) was started in collaboration with various Duke societies , including Fuqua's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) and Duke's Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization (CERC).It is targeted towards harnessing the entrepreneurship capabilities and expectations of Duke students, and equipping them with the basic knowledge to set up a successful venture. DEES is a series of 12 events, and every week distinguished Duke entrepreneurs are invited to connect and share the mantra of building a successful company.
Over the past few weeks, young and eminent Duke alum such as Aaron Patzer (CEO of mint.com) and Rich West (CEO of Advanced Liquid Logic) have delivered lectures on the key concepts of entrepreneurship, including planning , financing and venture capitalism. Business is not an orthodox set of rules anymore. "Failure is okay ," as Aaron Patzer points out in the inaugural Entrepreneurship 101 lecture. And there is reason enough to believe him, because before setting up the popular finance application mint.com, Aaron had got his hands wet in 3 ventures but could not make it work. The fourth one indeed did, and he recently won the TechCrunch 40 in 2007.
Dave Samuel, founder of the companies Spinner (purchased by AOL in 1999), Grouper (purchased by Sony in 2006), Brondell and Freestyle Capital, highlighted the importance of "Focus[ing] on doing one thing really well" in the Planning Your Startup 101 lecture. In the most recent lecture called Business Plan 101, Matt Kane, CEO of Precision Biosciences presented the curious students with effective ways to write and market a strategic business plan to investors and financing agencies. And in the session, called Venture Capital 101, Rob Hallford of Pappas Ventures and Amy Laverdiere of Hatteras Venture Partners demystified the factors that drive a venture capitalist to invest in a startup, and provided a thorough insight into the venture capitalism industry.
DEES is an exciting opportunity to help students come up with innovative developments in diverse fields, and enable them to market their product effectively. This series is scheduled to go on till 29th January 2009.