Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cairo Day 2.5

Day 2.5
Business Models for Revolution?

Heading out to see the real Cairo, the taxi took us around Tahrir Square. Much quieter these days but still powerful -- one birthplace of Arab Spring, a revolution whose political outcomes are still uncertain. But the optimism remains high and much of the energy has seemingly channeled into innovation and entrepreneurship.

In a world where we must choose to disrupt or else be inevitably be disrupted, entrepreneurial skills are paramount. Sometimes technology facilitates successful disruption; sometimes technology itself actually drives successful disruption at a fundamental level. Either way, the game has changed for Egypt.

The game has also changed for entrepreneurs at a fundamental level. The revolution in entrepreneurial learning pales in comparison to the courageous folks in Tahrir Square (and Tunis and still striving in Damascus). Much has been made of social media as a disruptive technology that enabled Arab Spring. It certainly facilitated how the opportunity to be heard in ways that were not possible before.

Do I want to assert that revolutionary change requires entrepreneurial skills? Yes. Does it require a deep entrepreneurial mindset? Yes. (Do I feel cheeky in saying that? Definitely yes.)

Is not entrepreneurship ultimately about taking control of what you are destined to be? And taking control by creating great value for others? Once immersed in entrepreneurial thinking, it can be very hard to change back.

For the revolution in entrepreneurial learning, the enabling technology is actually a mindset: To grow the entrepreneurial mindset can't happen through education-as-usual. You need instructors/coaches/mentors who themselves 'get' the entrepreneurial mindset..deeply.

The poster child for this is the new, deep focus on business models - the lean startup model, the Business Model Canvas, Startup Weekend and more. Can the 'old school', "let's-write-business-plans" crowd use lean? Teach the BMC? They can try but think about yesterday's incredible display here at Cairo University. If Steffen, Povilas and Vera didn't share the entrepreneurial mindset themselves, we could never have pulled off what we did.

And I think (and we hope) that we have changed the students' thinking in ways that will 'stick'.

Takeaway: Bet on the jockey, not the horse. Bet on people leading entrepreneurial education who get (not those who think they do). Bet on the learners.

After last night, I'm going to be far less glib about referring to the "revolution in entrepreneurial learning", it is nonetheless a revolution. The changes are resisted but the changes are irrevocable. And change that is truly disruptive... is never incremental. You have to take the leap of faith.

We have to jump to entrepreneurial learning that is:

Student-centric, student-driven
Experiential & two-way - no more lecture/discussion
Mindfully/intentional focused on moving us toward a more expert entrepreneurial mindset
Deeply co-immersed in the entrepreneurial ecosystem
That is, in a word, entrepreneurial. 

Most will not get this (though all too many think that they do.. sadly)

Time for us all to jump. Now. You can't grow a great entrepreneurship program incrementally, you've got to take the irrevocable plunge. Who is willing to take the leap!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how we can build the entrepreneurial mindset further in the wonderful students at Cairo...

...and beyond. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cairo Day 2

Cairo Day 2

I! Am! An Entrepreneur!

I! Am! An EGYPTIAN! Entrepreneur!

170+ chanting this in unison. Always riles up the crowd... but they are already hungry.
Hungry to figure how to put themselves at the center of their own lives.

At the center of the own education.

For almost all, this is the first deeply experiential class they've ever had.

5-6 hours today in a workshop on business modelling -
I can't wait to see what these students will do with the business model canvas.

p.s. Team Eagles still representing!

Steffen Farny leads off by showing how STUDENTS are leading the revolution in entrepreneurial learning
(e.g., Startup Sauna)

Paper airplanes EVERYWHERE.. (do you know this fun exercise?)

177 students in 36 teams and only 4* of us.... helping them through all 9 cells of the Business Model Canvas
[* Aalto's Steffen Farny, Povilas Valiuga, Vera Haataja plus me]
All those teams in less than 5 hours... Wow! (I seem to be saying "Wow!" frequently these days)

Meanwhile, Aalto's Paula Kyro (our fearless leader), Agnieszka Kurczewska (Lodz) and Aalto's great Small Business Center gurus, Anne Gustafsson-Pesonen and Pentti Mustalampi were coaching the teachers on constructivistic education.

But that was only prologue...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Opening symposium at Cairo University

Opening symposium at Cairo University
A big room full of young entrepreneurially-minded students!

CU's Faculty of Commerce is making commitments to "bring the students to the world and... bring the world to students"... music to our ears,

Paula Kyro of Aalto (and chief architect of this collaboration) talked about on progress so far - all the things that have happened even in the last year.

Cairo University is one of the largest universities in MENA -perfect partner for growing entrepreneurship education. Cairo U wants to continue developing entrepreneurship into a core competence
(we think it could be a distinctive competence!) but is still very skills-focused and not connected to the local entrep ecosystem. Of course, that's why we are here! :)

SAMS (Sadat Academy of Management Sciences) is on a similar trajectory and is completely committed to "REAL training, REAL projects" - I think we can help. Already connected Professor Sahar Nagaty to Dell Social Innovation Challenge & William James Foundation.
(And I've been sharing the online materials out there such as Steve Blank's Lean Launch Pad on Udacity.)

Supreme Council of Universities (!) has now committed to broadening and deepening entrepreneurship education across Egypt's universities. (Was in Arabic, can't wait to see the translation!)

"Living Lab" for technology development
Constructivistic, co-immersive model that co-engages broad spectrum of stakeholders [i.e., an ecosystem-centric model] - you know Professor Sherif from Mansoura University was preaching to THIS choir ;)

Immediate thoughts so far:
1) Ideas are far less important than Implementation.. need to get this more at center of programs/courses/exercises move away from thinking about "great ideas" or (shudder) biz plans..]
2) Lean model should fly well here [we'll see tomorrow]
3) DEEP co-immersion in entrep ecosystem - needed and wanted
4) Develop 'reading list' and 'contact list' for faculty AND students

Afternoon Brainstorming
5 teams, mostly undergrad students - each team had a topic, brainstorming ideas then presenting.
Everyone voted with stickies for their favorites across the teams

I got to be lead cat-herder for "Team Eagle" [Eagle is CU's mascot]
Our topic: Building entrepreneurship curriculum across the lifespan

My readers will be shocked... shocked, I tell ya, that they centered on:
     *) Build the entrep mindset and
     *) Connect the ecosystem!
:).... but I did not push them AND they know that these are a package deal!

Not sure that anyone else got more than 10 votes so let me brag on my team a little... :)

#1 (14 votes) Live class projects - make problem/project-based exercises at heart of all classes
-either work on own ideas (maybe host their own Startup Weekend or equivalent)
-or research/work on ideas for others (but have mentors/coaches from entrepreneurial community driving the process -see below)

#2 (13 votes) Get government to sponsor/champion competitions where students can battle-test their ideas (could include helping students engage in existing events like Dell and William James)

#3 (10 votes) "Meet the Entrepreneur" -develop multiple mechanisms to get entrepreneurs to meet students and get the students out in the community [remember what the FCCU Dean said earlier?]
(also video all entrepreneurs' talks, link to existing videos online)

(#4, 7 votes - was to build bandwidth by having students run programs,
#5, 5 votes - youth entrepreneurship classes using college students to help teach)

We take these ideas for granted too often but the truth is, even in the US we fall short on even these basics.

Other Breakout Groups
"Outreach": Students expressed great eagerness to connect better with the entrepreneurial community;
they want to see their instructors deep in the entrepreneurial world not the academic world
"Doctoral/Graduate Education": Even PhD students REALLY want to know more about how entrepreneurs really act and think. (And want their professors to do the same.)
"Collaborations": Want to see more, visible connections with local businesses

          ....gee...sensing a pattern here? ;)

And seriously proud of the students stepping up! [Go Team Eagles!]

Tomorrow - the revolution in entrepreneurial learning moves from the beachhead..
-> Lean startup and business model evolution awaits them
(-> along with a in-depth preview of the ultimate learn-by-doing, the "venture creation" model of entrepreneurial learning)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Arab Spring to an Entrepreneurial Summer?

A replay of an earlier post is below but now I’m here. In Cairo.
First of all, there are “only” 25 million people in this metro area. All of them smoke and drive like, well, like I do J. Took over an hour to get to the hotel [25km downtown]. Hotel doesn’t take debit cards and my hosts have yet to arrive, so I’m cooling my heels in the lobby. People-watching has been a blast. (I also get to revise my stuff for tomorrow when we kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week over at Cairo University and… yes, the red shoes are ready to rock!
Training the “next” generation of entrepreneurship teachers gets pretty real when “next” is actually the “first” generation. Going to pull out all the learning tools in my kit and it’ll be worth it. The entrepreneurial buzz is here; not sure The Powers That Be actually notice (let alone get it) but it’s very, very real.
Wish me luck. Tell me to work my sorry butt off. And PLEASE send your warmest wishes to Egypt’s Entrepreneurial Summer. Twitter, Facebook or norris.krueger[at]!

..updated post from spring...
“From Arab Spring to Entrepreneurial Autumn Summer?”
Wow. Cairo University is celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week for the first time with a major conference in partnership with Finland’s new Aalto University**
And they want me here. (Infidel heathen that I am… LOL)
I am at a loss for words.
Maybe folks like Phil Auerswald & Calestous Juma & the Startup Weekend crew are right:
Entrepreneurs WILL save the world.
And that makes make we do – and, yes, what YOU do – even more important.

p.s. The December 3 lean startup conference simulcast is still a ‘go’ – please book some ‘hooky’ time for the 3rd!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Revving up a world-class entrepreneurship program in a year?

            AALTO: initial thoughts from October visit

I recently spent 10 days visiting the entrepreneurship program at the new Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland [a/ka/ "Stanford East"]. This school is amazing – and shows what can be done very quickly with a solid strategic vision, great passion, deep community engagement and the right people!

While I was enviously thinking about missed opportunities in Idaho, the 'lessons learned' apply broadly. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Who is Aalto University?
            Only TWO years ago they merged three top-quality Helsinki universities in Aalto: Business, engineering and design. [] Partnering with TOP universities, especially Stanford and my friends at its legendary Stanford Technology ventures Program (STVP).
            Already seeing payoffs... ...though tensions/rivalries persist ;) ... most of this got started in less than 1 year. (So what is YOUR excuse??)
            Incredibly entrepreneurial support for entrepreneurship – read on! []

Aalto’s Entrepreneurial Success Factors:
* Provides activities (courses and non-courses) at each stage of entrepreneurial development and for various target groups.
* Get the right content, right approach, and especially the right people.

            Implication for Idaho/elsewhere: As Jim Collins says, "get the right people on the bus in the right seats..." (no matter what the political/bureaucratic aggravations)

* Student-centric, student-led: Mostly STUDENT driven []

            Implication for Idaho/elsewhere: This is 100% doable, just needs right leadership

Startup Sauna: this model made me salivate ;)
* A residential accelerator (housed in Aalto Venture Garage, which also contains killer co-working space)  [] []
* SS scouts talented teams via tour of 1-day coaching [1 on 1] – meeting with 200-250 teams across the region
* “Homework” as screening [interested teams have a hurdle to jump]
* Typically get 10-12 teams per cohort
* TechStars style immersion in pool of A+ mentors but also the “perfect” coach
                        [if Sauna can’t identify a close-to-perfect coach, the team may not make the cut]
* Supported by TEKES [Finns’ version of NSF], Aalto, local foundations
* Startup Sauna takes ZERO equity
* SLUSH conference to bring together ecosystem [short on keynotes, long on small group coaching]

            Implication for Idaho/elsewhere: High value, quick payoff but will require starting from scratch [clearly detaching from existing entities/programs] & identifying mentor/coach pool

AppCampus []
* Nokia & Microsoft each plunked down 9 million euros (~$11.5 million)
* Teams developing brand-new apps can get up to $50K to bring to market
                        [focus is on Windows Phone platform, but idea obviously generalizes]
* Killer training ground for prospective app makers on any platform!

            Implication for Idaho: Have students apply to AppCampus?

“Summer of Startups” []
* small grants for students to explore “the entrepreneurial life” and/or develop some personally-viable opportunities

 Aalto Centre for Entrepreneurship [ACE]
* Tech transfer effort
* 300 disclosures/year -> if serious (~250 of them) they get 5K euros seed, no strings
  [adds education process for inventors/labs]
* ~50 teams make progress, then get up to 50K euros [deal is negotiated re royalties, equity, etc.]
* Then ~10 make it to point of spinout, they get up to 300K euros to launch the firm
* Fewer still get fully rolling but by this point, outside equity is already coming in
* Incubator or accelerator support & biz skills trainng, customized as needed

            Implication for Idaho/elsewhere: Need deep co-immersion in entrep community and blocking meddlers.
            Implication for Idaho/other low density areas: Will need to aggregate across all of Idaho's schools - one school is NOT enough. Maybe attract private sector IP (INL too?)

Aalto Incubators - sponsored largely by angels/VCs
* Major emphasis on iterating biz model, prototype and pitch and...
* Business/management skills (under watchful eye of local experts)

            Implication for Idaho: Low-hanging fruit has to be the basic biz training

StartupLife [another drool-worthy]
Up to 50 Aalto students get 3-9 month internships with hot startups in Silicon Valley & NYC  [] (for business, techie and design students) At least 2 of the last crop of interns didn't return because... they are now CEOs ;)

            Implication for Idaho: I've already asked Aalto if Idaho firms and/or INL could get added to the list, but we could imitate. Will need to aggregate across all of Idaho's schools - one school is not enough.

"Soft Landings"
* Support programs for firms going global - EASILY replicable
* For local firm trying to expand overseas OR for overseas firms wanting to establish operations locally

            Implication for Idaho: District Export Council could do this in their sleep! [See also -potential exporters will like]

Building the Global Pipeline
* Universities, polytechnics/community colleges - all making concerted efforts to make it easy for scholar/educator exchanges across borders.
* It appears that Finland & China are building a two-way pipeline that has eliminated most of the red tape

            Implication for Idaho: Would seem replicable if we so desire-> build relationships, then make obsessive commitment to slashing red tape. We have a strong District Export Council; why not use them to take the lead?

And yes.... I did get exposed to the people who wrecked my productivity... ROVIO!!!
            Implication for Idaho/Everywhere: Quit playing Angry Birds?? :)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship

Did you know such a group exists? (
Did you know it was growing rapidly?
Did you know that community colleges are the hottest venue for entrepreneurship training?

I went to both the 2011 and 2012 conferences and some of you know how cranky I can get about mediocre entrepreneurship programs but... I was seriously jazzed by what I saw from this group. North Idaho College has joined and I'm betting that CWI isn't far behind!

Here my notes and thoughts from the recent conference (early October in Chicago)
Plus implications for Idaho and beyond!

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

NACCE notes

1. Community colleges are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship training anywhere.
            (both adult education & for-credit classes)
1a. Quality is remarkable and also growing
2. Why?? There are VERY good reasons for community colleges' success! (Here are 5.)

A) Perfect position: Deep co-immersion with community, civic and business communities
            Implications for Idaho/elsewhere: Use already-existing deep engagement/market orientation as key selling point!

B) Surprisingly good partners in tech transfer/technology commercialization
            Indian River CC in Florida is.. go look it up! [ Has med school, nuclear research lab, biotech and nanotech.. all on their campus. .
            Implications for Idaho/elsewhere: Co-locating research facilities near/next to CC's will help - we can sell this by bringing in rock stars in tech commercialization

C) Open to new processes and deploying the right people
            (some of that is CCs can lack inertia in the wrong direction from pre-existing programs, some of it is a strong market orientation)
            Implications for Idaho/elsewhere: Support only the places/people where it is NOT 'business as usual', that you are making sure to hire VERY entrepreneurial people and make them visible

            other factors helping community colleges...
D) Exploding demand for online/blended courses
But... competition is fierce, demanding highest possible quality for these courses
            (So... who has bandwidth to add courses? who can respond fastest to competition?)
            Implications for Idaho/elsewhere: Deploy IMMEDIATELY some world-class programs [Ice House and...] Begin planning our OWN courses.

E) Proliferation of potential allies to grow ecosystem
(who is most likely to see nearby programs as allies, not rivals?)
            Implications for Idaho: CWI! NIC? NNU? (CSI? etc.?)
            Implications for Idaho/elsewhere: Start DEFRAG** effort NOW

p.s. Global Entrepreneurship Week (
            Implications for Idaho/elsewhere: Join GEW - post events, etc. Get visible!

** Developing Entrepreneurial Framework for Resilience And Growth (new proposed initiative)