Berkeley’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is a Calling
During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, science and engineering at both Stanford and U.C. Berkeley were heavily funded to develop Cold War weapon systems. Stanford’s focus was Electronic Intelligence and those advanced microwave components and systems were useful in a variety of weapons systems. Starting in the 1950’s, Stanford’s engineering department became “outward facing” and developed a culture of spinouts and active faculty support and participation in the first wave of Silicon Valley startups.
At the same time Berkeley was also developing Cold War weapons systems. However its focus was nuclear weapons – not something you wanted to be spinning out. So Berkeley started a half century history of “inward facing innovation” focused on the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons lab. (See the presentation here.)
Given its inward focus, Berkeley has always been the neglected sibling in Silicon Valley entrepreneurship. That has changed in the last few years.
Today the U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School is a leader in entrepreneurship education. It has replaced how to write a business plan with hands-on Lean Startup methods. It’s teaching the LaunchPad® and the I-Corps for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, as well as corporate entrepreneurship courses.
Here’s the story from Andre Marquis, Executive Director of Berkeley’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship.
- Early-stage investors don’t read business plans
- We are in the middle of a shift in entrepreneurship education from teaching the waterfall model of startup development (enshrined in business plans) to teaching the lean startup model
- The Lean LaunchPad process works across a wide range of domains – from science and engineering to healthcare, energy, government, the social sector and for corporate innovation
- Customer Development works outside Silicon Valley. In fact, it works globally
- The Lean LaunchPad is a business process that teaches entrepreneurs and innovators to make business-focused, evidence-based decisions under conditions of chaos and uncertainty. It’s a big idea.
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