Last week we took a “detour” from the study of entrepreneurship and closely looked at a social movement in the sneaker industry that I have been working on – “Life > Shoes.” This week, as we are heading back to our major research topic, I have found it very beneficial to share with all of you some researchers who have helped me a lot throughout this year’s independent study. Therefore in this blog post I will introduce several “friends” I have made recently and their work so that we can together learn from their intelligence.
Before we start, let me first clarify whom I am referring to as “researchers”. As we know, there are currently thousands of entrepreneurs in this world. Some of them, such as my favorite entrepreneur Elon Musk, are successful while others are still trying to make a name for themselves. The researchers, a.k.a the analysts, are those who study from the experience of these entrepreneurs, and then provide the public with information they have found on how to have a successful entrepreneurship experience. Some of these researchers are college professors, who benefit from working under a very academic atmosphere, while some others are independent writers or retired entrepreneurs who also have an authoritative voice due to their rich experiences.
The first person I am going to introduce is Linda Darragh, professor of entrepreneurial practice at Kellogg Business School of Northwestern University. Her recent article on Fortune.com, “How to Prevent Your New Business From Becoming a Complete Failure,” talks about crucial actions required for a successful entrepreneurial experience such as “testing and gathering feedback and using metrics to gauge the viability of an idea and the appeal of a solution to customers.” In the article, she uses the example of Edovo, a company that provides education and self-improvement tools for people affected by incarceration, to demonstrate how persistence and passion can help a seemingly failing business get back onto the right track. The article is brief and straightforward, and I have found it helpful in teaching me how to save a startup from a complete failure. Next year I will be attending Northwestern University, and I can’t wait to meet more researchers and professors from Kellogg Business School.
The second person I am going to introduce to you, Patrick Fitzgerald, is actually someone I have talked with face to face. Patrick, the co-founder of Recycle Bank, a socially responsible business, is now a lecturer and researcher at the Wharton Business School of University of Pennsylvania. He was one of my professors at the program I attended last summer at Wharton, “Leadership in the Business World.” During lectures, Patrick shared with us his experiences at founding Recycle Bank and talked about how social entrepreneurship could be a field for all of us to pursue. He talked about how he had to advertise for Recycle Bank by himself on the streets when it was just founded. However, the most memorable thing he had taught me is not all the systematic knowledge, but his claim that most business partners will eventually separate due to different perspectives, and some of them cannot even be friend after serious conflicts. To demonstrate his idea, he used himself as an example to shared with us how the friendship between another co-founder of Recycle Bank and himself broke due to their different visions of the company’s future, which resulted in Patrick leaving the company. Even though it is a little hard for me to accept such an idea at first, now I have gradually come to realize that Patrick might be right. Sole Garage is currently a very small business; however, Max and I have fought many times due to different issues regarding the business. It is never easy to maintain friendship in such a competitive business world. However, I have been trying to teach myself that as long as I keep treating friendship as something more important that money, I would be able to do better in keeping friends.
The third and the last business researcher I want to introduce is Peter Thiel, the former co-founder of Paypal and Palantir, and the author of “Zero To One,” a book that I am recently reading. As a successful entrepreneur, Peter Thiel has an authoritative voice among young entrepreneurs. In “Zero to One,” Peter Thiel shares with us his idea that creativity is a prerequisite of entrepreneurship. Instead of starting a business that applies an existing model or features an existing product, Peter Thiel advocates young entrepreneurs to always attempt new innovations, because copying ideas only improves this market from “one to many,” but creating ideas can develop this market from “zero to one.” Peter Thiel also supports monopoly, and claims that achieving monopoly marks the success of a business. He uses the example of Google to demonstrate how even though competition is an indispensable part of the market, it might deter the development of a company, thus keeping it from achieving complete success. I have enjoyed reading this book, as it broadens my perspectives regarding entrepreneurship. I have learnt that even though some people claim monopoly to be immoral, it is actually the ultimate success a business can accomplish.
And that wraps this week’s blog post. I hope you all learn something from my introduction of the three business researchers above, as they have all helped me with my independent research project. Next week I will head back to my exploration of how management plays a significant role in many entrepreneurship experiences. Stay tuned. Peace out!