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“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Unknown

There has always been a connect between design and entrepreneurship. Design works at transforming needs and aspirations into tangible, desirable products and services. Entrepreneurs build businesses by unlocking the value in products and services, diffusing their use in society through business offerings that are innovative.
Entrepreneurship programs that are a mix of study and application prepare students for employment and also start their own companies.
Several factors are driving the boom in entrepreneurship, including: the celebration of entrepreneurs as heroes, better entrepreneurial education and support ecosystems, economic and demographic factors, the inexorable shift to a creative economy, technological advances especially in information and communication technology, and increased global opportunities and connectedness. The ecosystem that makes risk capital available, from angel funding to private equity, to first generation entrepreneurs and the eco system of support from boot camps incubators to accelerators is creating a new age of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is the process of converting a new idea, invention or innovation into a business that successfully reaches users and delights them.

Entrepreneurship can be of different types. Understanding these helps the designer to position him/herself as well as the products and services he/she designs.

1. Small Business Entrepreneurship
Small businesses are grocery stores, hairdressers, travel agents, welders, carpenters, weavers, repair shops, plumbers, ironing men, electricians, etc. They encompass the artisanal sector, the small scale industry, creative manufacturing, service providers of all sorts and internet storefronts. The emergence of new technologies has given this sector a huge boost in the last decade and there is still a wealth of unexplored possibility in what could be.

2. Scalable Startup Entrepreneurship
Unlike small businesses, scalable startups are what Software entrepreneurs and their venture investors do. These entrepreneurs start a company with a unique vision that could potentially change the world.

3. Large Company Entrepreneurship
Large companies have finite life cycles. Most grow through sustaining innovation, offering new products that are variants around their core products. Changes in customer tastes, new technologies, legislation, new competitors, etc. can create pressure for more disruptive innovation – requiring large companies to create entirely new products sold into new customers in new markets. Ironically, large company size and culture make disruptive innovation extremely difficult to execute.

4. Social Entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurs are innovators who focus on creating products and services that solve social needs and problems. In India though there are many examples of this kind of entrepreneurship, there is still a huge need to solve many of the problems we face. There is a large section of society that is underserved and has very little access to basic amenities like good education, sanitation, water, food, fuel etc. Social entrepreneurships help in designing innovative ways to provide this access. Social entrepreneurship is also deeply concerned with creating new and innovative and sustainable livelihood opportunities. They may be nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid.

So can entrepreneurship be taught? Design schools have proven that people can be trained to be “creative” and entrepreneurship too can be, in the same learning by doing methodology.

Guiding principles

At Srishti, we incorporate following entrepreneurship characteristics in the curriculum, and students internalize them experientially

A necessary condition for entrepreneurship is curiosity; design thinking tools of observation enable students to develop their empathy and insight generation skills. These are used to discover pain points, gaps and unfulfilled aspirations, which are then reframed as innovation opportunities. The difference between transformational and incremental innovation is also explored and understood, to set their business ideas clear of the competition.

Business schools traditionally use the case study method to educate future entrepreneurs, and managers, at SRISHTI we encourage our students to look forward through the windscreen rather than backward by the rearview mirror, using scenario planning and projection to create the long term vision, with tools to plan for mid term and the drive to act now. Learning to prepare a credible business plan, manage financial resources effectively, understand financial statements, manage people, and plan alternatives.

Failure is not an indictment of a person but rather an idea that does not work to its potential. Entrepreneurs need to be in a learning mindset and have to have an optimistic view of the future yet be tempered with pragmatism. Successful entrepreneurs have the attitude that failures are simply stepping stones along the path to success, and they refuse to be paralyzed by a fear of failure. Guided mastery of concepts enables building up ability, graded with small failures and small successes while building humility to abjure entitlement. Entrepreneurs recognize that failure is a natural part of the creative process, and harness the power of quick validation , using failure as the scaffold for solutions that ultimately work. Multi stage validation, iteration and application in a rough and dirty rapid prototyping mode borrowed from product design is adapted for business models as well.

Prioritizing for maximum impact, using tools and frameworks for informed decision making are key skills that students will use in their projects.

Working in a networked way with teams to leverage complimentary skills starts early with group projects and clear task/job roles. Developing attitudes of responsibility and accountability, with an outcome orientation while working with purpose and meaning bring a heightened sense of responsibility. Understanding risk and how to mitigate it, building confidence in ability by doing and making, understanding the need to measure and evaluate for informed iteration, maintaining a high energy level with teams, and a future orientation is critical. Understanding natural systems and working toward sustainability and satisfaction, which is not just monetary. Harnessing the power of teams and learning to use ecosystems of support, from funding to mentoring and incubation.

An idea or a business needs to propagate, and communication, brand perception both personal and organizational will boost the effectiveness of a company’s products or service to diffuse. Understanding the way ideas spread and take hold, through actual doing.