• Dr Parag Diwan

Can Schools Make Entrepreneurs?

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

It is said that development, industrialization, and jobs are intrinsically linked to entrepreneurship. In societies where there is a greater number of entrepreneurs, it is generally more prosperous. Entrepreneurship is also critical as it also leads to innovation, betterment in the quality of life, and greater social progress within a society.



Growth of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Indian Context

Entrepreneurship, these days in India, has gained a lot of respect. More people from various backgrounds are trying to make it big through the start-up route. In the past, our country’s record was not great at nurturing entrepreneurs or creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, post-liberalization, things have changed immensely, say in the last 25 years. Now, there is a belief that anybody can do business, provided one has the right idea. Success stories of their peers have further reinforced their faith. Based on the favorable environment, more people have developed the audacity to explore their ideas and take the entrepreneurial plunge.



Source: NASSCOM


These start-ups, in many ways, have been made possible by the transformative power of technology. The majority of India’s start-ups have been in the domain of new-age technology, be it e-commerce, IT-enabled healthcare services, or on-call services in a variety of areas. The rapid growth in the field of science and technology has significantly expanded the scope of innovation, helping entrepreneurs to explore new grounds and embark on new ideas. Thanks to the increased purchasing power of the Indian middle class on digital products, India has become the fourth largest base of technology start-ups in the world. The growth of start-ups could be attributed to many factors, be it a large domestic market, increased M&A activity, or access to capital through investor funding. Indian start-ups are also growing following their unique solutions and business model.


“India is the 3rd largest base for start-ups in the world with over 5,000 start-ups present in India and over 1000 setting up annually. By 2020, India is expected to be house 11,500 start-ups employing over 250,000 people.”

The competition is certainly tough. One crucial aspect is how to raise the capital, and to sustain in the fast-paced dynamic environment is another. Though, there is a considerable maturity observed in terms of funding due to increasing vibrancy in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Now, start-ups have access to multiple sources of funding from venture capitalists, private equities angel investors, banks, financial institutions, and incubators.

Gone are the days when financing was debt-oriented, today the participation of venture capitalists has multiplied. Segments such as travel, matrimonial services, jobs, games, mobile payments, etc., are getting a substantial capital infusion.


The need for Entrepreneurial Education

Multitudes of activities are happening in the entrepreneurial sphere, as a result, entrepreneur education is also on the rise. Today, a course on entrepreneurship is a part of almost every curriculum. Several undergraduate and postgraduate business programs are on offer with the entrepreneurship specialism. Also, many workshops, conferences, and entrepreneurship development programs of short duration are available. A few specialist entrepreneurship schools have also come into vogue.



Notwithstanding the students' intention to go to an entrepreneurship school, many times parents and counselors tend to advise young people that entrepreneurs are born and not taught. This leads to an existential question. “Are good entrepreneurs born that way, or can they be made?”


To make a considered judgment call on this question, it would be interesting to look into various attributes that make successful entrepreneurs.



Intelligence and Smartness

Some people are inherently intelligent and score high on aptitude tests. Some are not so blessed, but a whole lot (bell-curve is at play again) is what is known as in-between people. By no means, one has to be a genius to succeed as an entrepreneur. As the large proportion is the so-called “in-between” they can most certainly be taught in a fashion that helps in the development of intelligence. Also, in schools, since group dynamics come into play, one learns street smartness.


Inference: This attribute of entrepreneurship can be taught.

Vision and Foresight

With endless information flow, a whole host of people are knowledgeable about what is in vogue. But, visionaries are those who can imagine things and ways that can radically transform the global challenges that the world today faces. This requires inborn abilities to imagine and fore think.

Inference: This attribute of entrepreneurship is therefore an inborn trait.

Five Evangelistic Skills

There are five evangelistic skills that most entrepreneurs must have or cultivate:

1) Communication skills to share their vision.

2) Listening skills to gather inputs from others.

3) Selling skills to sell your ideas and vision.

4) Motivational skills to keep your team motivated.

5) Interpersonal skills to build and sustain teams.


Inferences: Most of these skills can be taught and there are structured programs to do so.

Passion and High Energy Levels

In a start-up environment, passion plays a great role. Unless one is always fired up for action and growth the start-up founders. The passion for the product and the process, on which the start-up hinges, is fueled constantly by high energy levels. The ability to excite also comes with passion, and it is important to your employees, customers, partners, and prospective investors.

Inference: These entrepreneurial traits are also inborn.

Tenacity and Drive

The tenacity of purpose and drive to overcome all the possible hurdles is very important for any entrepreneur. Most start-ups at various points in time will find challenging periods and like a formula one driver, one has to have the drive to catch the chequered flag.

Inference: Again, the traits of tenacity and drive are the inborn ability

The Industry Knowledge

Successful entrepreneurs generally have had experience and expertise in the area where they build their enterprise. Some of this expertise is about domain knowledge or markets or processes. However, these are something that could be taught in both real and simulated situations.

Inference: This ability can be learned through real industry experience or simulated situations at entrepreneurial programs or schools.

Risk-Taking Abilities

Fearlessness and ‘gambler’s instinct’, they say are hard-wired in the brain. The famous dialogue of Star-Trek “to go where no one has gone before” invokes a sense of adventure and foreboding. This is the feeling most people encounter upon embarking on an entrepreneurial odyssey.

Inference: This as we said is hardwired hence genetically programmed (inborn)

Though, on this analysis, the jury is slightly more inclined towards the fact that most entrepreneurial attributes are inborn. However, this is a rather subjective analysis and others can argue differently or add teachable skills. Thus, the role of entrepreneurial education cannot be dismissed.


Role of Entrepreneurship Schools

Therefore, entrepreneurship schools take up an important place in the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem. As we saw, there are distinct areas in the entrepreneurial abilities that can certainly be taught. Even the inborn traits can be honed to a greater instinct. An entrepreneurship school can help in bridging the gap through education to be an exceptional entrepreneur. The various roles that an entrepreneurship school can play in shaping future entrepreneurs are as follows:-

  1. The entrepreneurship schools should develop the skills of navigating an uncertain business environment, problem-solving, group empathy, innovation and creativity, and risk minimization abilities.

  2. The entrepreneurship school should provide an arena to explore creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Entrepreneurship education should encourage creative thinking and design mindsets.

  3. In the entrepreneurial world, problems get fixed only when the problems have been properly identified. Therefore, the entrepreneurship school should make their students identify problems and upon proper identification find solutions to these problems. This can be done through structured problem identification and problem-solving exercises.

  4. Though we argued earlier that tenacity or grit are generally born, but these traits can be honed. Entrepreneurship schools should create an experiential learning environment. These simulated experiences can be extremely beneficial for students before they graduate and actually face real-life, rupees-and-paisa, emergent situations. As we said, entrepreneurs need to be as tenacious as a bulldog.

  5. Entrepreneur should also be focused on multiple bottom lines. This implies that profitability should not be the only reason for the enterprise but also they must know how to be socially and environmentally their start-up can impact our mother earth. The entrepreneurship schools can go a big way in creating awareness about social empathy, moral rights, and environmental consciousness.

It can be concluded that entrepreneurship education holds great value for all prospective entrepreneurs and particularly those who enter the fields of science, technology, healthcare, and education. The future belongs to the innovators and creators, and entrepreneurship education serves as a great incubator for the types of creative, innovative ideas our world needs today.


Top 10 Entrepreneurship Schools as per Business Insider

1. Babson College

2. the University of Houston.

3. Baylor University. Baylor Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise

4. Brigham Young University

5. University of Oklahoma

6. Syracuse University

7. Northeastern University

8. University of Southern California

9. City University of New York at Baruch College

10. Miami University


In India, there is also a tremendous spurt in entrepreneurial education. The government many years back opened the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India which has done some pioneering work in this area, albeit within the constraints of a public institution. No significant institution in the private sector has yet emerged to be the place to go for entrepreneurial education. Some noted private institutions which offer good programs in entrepreneurship are as follows:

1. XLRI, Jamshedpur

2. Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI), Gandhinagar

3. S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai

4. Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai

5. Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship (XIME), Bangalore

6. Nirma Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

7. IIM Bangalore, NSRCEL

8. Jain University, Bangalore

9. National Institute for Entrepreneurship & Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Delhi

10. Amity Business School, Noida


Essentially, a great entrepreneur is an amalgam of certain inborn traits and a lot of training as well. Therefore, specialist programs on entrepreneurship and schools that provide such training also have a place under the sun.

About Author: Dr. Parag Diwan is an Edupreneur who has built several institutions and has a long abiding interest in what he calls “3E”: Education, Energy, Entrepreneurship and he frequently writes on these areas.

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References:

1.Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught? Yes, And It Might Be Easier Than You Think, article by Amy Vetter in INC.

2.Entrepreneurs Are Born, Not Created, article by John Greathouse in Forbes

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