The Power of Entrepreneurship Education

The Power of Entrepreneurship Education
February 22, 2017 Michael Skok

When we first started Underscore.VC, we staked out a core commitment that we would support entrepreneurship education, and we brought on a co-founder, C.A. Webb, to lead that effort and work with us to attract investors.

C.A. has made the difficult decision to leave Underscore, as the role we all envisioned leading our companion not-for-profit foundation evolved to the point where it did not to align with her expectations. As one of the founders of Underscore, C.A. added significantly to our efforts to make Underscore a success, and we wish her all the best in her next venture.

We remain committed to our long-term goal  to build and help sponsor a nonprofit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs learn, teach, and exchange knowledge about how to build transformative companies. Our plan is to build an organization dedicated to enabling learning guided by some basic principles we see as critical to high-quality entrepreneurship education:   

Framework-Based – In our own work, we’ve found the most useful educational tools have been frameworks that make it easier to tackle business problems, but are not prescriptive as to the solutions. Every startup is unique, but the patterns of problems are often similar so frameworks can help a business think through problems. The Startup Secrets main entrepreneurship course is all built on frameworks.

Continuously Improving – Entrepreneurship isn’t static. The strategies and techniques for building businesses are constantly evolving as new entrepreneurs innovate around everything from organizational structures to business models. At the same time, technology advances and market forces change what is possible and any effort to teach entrepreneurship needs to be continuously evolving.

Exchange – Learning should be multi-directional. The strict teacher / student dichotomy is limiting. Especially in the world of startups where innovation is a constant and there are always opportunities to both learn, teach, and create in the process of growing.

Rooted in Evidence – We believe the most valuable techniques are rooted in practice and have evidence of success.

Actionable – Knowledge from entrepreneurship learning experiences should be useful and applicable in real-world businesses.

Our first step in this journey has been to create as an online home for the course that was founded at the Harvard iLab. We continue to both refine and evolve the courseware while giving the classes and putting on workshops for entrepreneurs. But this is a very long term commitment that we’re only 4 years into and there is so much more to do. We are both humbled by the interest we’ve had (millions of hours of viewing and incredible feedback) and at the same time well aware of how much we need to improve. The nonprofit will provide the focus and resources to develop the learning experience as well as support the overall Startup Secrets entrepreneurial community.

The experiences that we’ve had teaching the Startup Secrets course with great entrepreneurs sharing their wisdom have been some of our most rewarding, both sharing what we’ve learned and also learning from others. The entire Underscore team is excited that we’re going to continue that work through Startup Secrets and the other programs the nonprofit will be rolling out over the next several years.

We’ve already started the search for a new executive director for the non-profit. If you’re interested in working with us, please reach out.

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