Obviously, Jobs was remarkably successful on his own accord. But his success story is so well known because he is an outlier. The up-and-coming student entrepreneurs need a higher education learning environment where they learn and apply that learning to building a successful venture.
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Here are a few examples of things we can do at the university to create this kind of learning and practice environment:
Eat, sleep, and breathe entrepreneurship. Build a residential Startup Village of like-minded student makers, doers and innovators who can help foster the growing entrepreneurship spirit.
Hawk student products from a mobile storefront. We call our storefront the "Idea Box." Last week a group of students who are starting a monthly subscription service for toiletries delivered to college dorms used the Idea Box to sign-up customers.
Tackle real problems vs. contrived problems. Textbooks are full of contrived problems and exercises. Get out of the textbook and out of the building to solve real issues that will make a difference.
At Arizona State University we partnered with TechShop, a membership-based DIY facility that is at the forefront of the "maker movement." The intent of the partnership is to provide our students with a facility for easy access to prototyping and fabrication equipment. We think of this kind of facility as a 21st century extension to the library where sophisticated tools and software are added to the collection as new instruments of learning. Of course, students are working on class projects. But they're also exploring and making things for themselves and friends as well as starting their own businesses. The facility is also open to the public which creates a learning environment that is richly diverse, inviting and collaborative.
We host start-up competitions for students to apply for funding, office space and mentorship from experts. We have a residential living community called Startup Village where like-minded students can live near each other and support each other as they work on their start-ups in their garages and kitchens.
As Peter Drucker said, "Most of what you hear about entrepreneurship is all wrong. It's not magic; it's not mysterious; and it has nothing to do with genes. It's a discipline and, like any discipline, it can be learned." Universities have the responsibility to create an environment that fosters entrepreneurship if they want their best and brightest to stick around.
Commentary by Mitzi M. Montoya, vice president and dean of entrepreneurship & innovation at Arizona State University. She is also a professor in the management department at the W.P. Carey School of Business. Follow her on Twitter @InnovationDean.