Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Pirate Code, and MIT’s Bill Aulet

Bill Aulet, managing director, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship
Bruce V. Bigelow

If there was a theme to Bill Aulet’s swing through San Diego last week, it was that entrepreneurship is a skill that can be learned.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that entrepreneurship can be taught. In fact, if there was a subtext to Aulet’s presentation at UC San Diego, it would have to be, “Let’s get the bullshit out of the business of educating entrepreneurs.”

As managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship (and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management), Aulet contends that the need for entrepreneurship has never been greater. It’s already clear that American workers can no longer expect to spend their entire career with one company, as previous generations did. In our future economy, he says American workers will have to be more entrepreneurial, if not outright entrepreneurs.

The trick, though, is ensuring that what we learn about entrepreneurship is worthwhile.

Through his work at MIT and as the author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, Aulet encourages entrepreneurs, startups, large companies, and governments to take a more systematic and disciplined approach to what he calls innovation-driven entrepreneurship. (His talk at UC San Diego was co-hosted by Xconomy and San Diego Tech Founders, with help from UCSD’s Moxie Center for Student Entrepreneurship.)

Listening to Bill Aulet at UC San Diego (photo by Nikki Truitt)

Listening to Bill Aulet at UC San Diego (photo by Nikki Truitt)

Innovation-driven entrepreneurship is important, Aulet says, because that is the creative force behind the growth of companies like Apple, Salesforce, and Google. Citing a 2009 study from the Kauffman Foundation, Aulet says innovation-driven companies produced two-thirds of the 40 million new jobs that were added to the American economy between 1980 and 2005.

What that means is that big business is not a net producer of new jobs. Neither is the government, according to … Next Page »