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In The Media

The One Best Thing at Stanford

by Larry Chiang on November 6, 2013

November 7, 2014

by Larry Chiang

I often get asked the question, “What is the one thing Stanford did that stimulated entrepreneurship?” The one silver bullet is the 650 li’l initiatives.

There are no silver bullets.

This question is on Quora too and I am educationally guessing that it is being asked by a college administrator *not* at Stanford. I will also guess that the person who asked the question is looking to replicate the academic results, entrepreneur impact and development of founders like the ones matriculating and spring boarding from Stanford University at the school they administer at.

In short, it is other schools trying to do what Stanford does.

The single most effective initiative is the mish-mash of literally dozens and dozens of ENTREPRENEUR programs. A light dusting of examples:

The D-school. The Design School at Stanford. They have a class called ENGR245 along with a ton of community friendly, hosted events and a collab space open 24-7 350 days.

Day-to-day, hour-to-hour there is some fun event in the foyer. I will post a pic of their flyer plying your involvement for a slew of free things in my flickr feed. Students from other schools are opening invited to prototype there.

The B-school. The Business School at Stanford, also known as “S.B.S.” They, the SBS, keep the doors unlocked and host speakers 12 nights a week. They double up many nights. CEMEX is at 655 Knight, but the auditorium is open to all departments. All departments. No in-fighting.

LOL, I know it is GSB and not “the S.B.S.” but that acronym mixes with the original GSB at University of Chicago. So I am using SBS. Help me help it catch on?? ;0

The A School. A is for Athletics.

One third of Entrepreneur Week events are hosted at an athletics facility. Bob Bowlsby, AD, started it. The A- School has alumni athlete entrepreneurs coming back and speaking to current NCAA athletes in a NCAA rules-abiding format.

Did you know a Stanford Athlete cannot use their own name when they start a business?! Well Entrepreneur Week at Stanford Mall adheres to the archaic NCAA. The A-school mentors super good (hahahaa, get it?! I was an athlete and studied engineering so I can supremely say: SUPER GOOD 🙂

FTC Blogger Disclosure: Eweek at Stanford Mall is a hobby of mine. Similar to how I watch athletes play the sport(s) I used to benchwarm for… I similarly have the hobby of watching entrepreneurship while I work as an entrepreneur. eWeek is about a month and takes me $60 to produce and 15 hours to organize-attend-party at per week.

FTC Disclosure: I was a super duper good athlete in high school recruited to play with balls and study engineering.

Let me repeat. Over one quarter of Eweek events historically have been held at a Stanford University athletic facility. It welcomes athletes, students and the community. They execute events inside the Arrillaga Entrepreneurship Triangle. It is three buildings at the corner of Campus and Embarcadero. Yes, those streets intersect! You must extrapolate on the map this hidden triangle of entrepreneurship.

The A-school, Athletics School, also hosts the Annual Startup Weekend. You enter a weekend of startup, start upping via Gate #4. Yes, the football stadium. Yes, students who are not athletes are also allowed to participate. Yes, it was open to all departments. Yes, the GSB supported this activity and no students were threatened Re: crossing the street from the b-school to the A-school
Re past history of deans versus the StartX.

The A-school itself would be ranked as a top 10 school for entrepreneurship.

The Engineering School. Ahem, no one calls it the E-school. The class inside of MS&E, Engineering 145, is at the heart of entrepreneurship. It is a class on technology entrepreneurship, ENGR 145. The E145 videos are all free online. ENGR145 itself, as a concept, can’t be copyrighted. Plus, even if it could be… Stanford would not.

College clasess and course numbers like Chem 102 or Chem 107 by Steven Zumdahl can’t be copy protected like a textbook. IF YOU’RE AT ANOTHER COLLEGE JUST EFFEN USE THE TOM BYERS TOM KOSNIK TEXTBOOKS AND ALTER THE AGENDA 25% OR DON’T ALTER THE CONTENT. There was a counter culture effort to explore copy protecting ENGR 145. So silly!

Plus no one is going to subpoena your class. So Silly!

Plus, even if you tried to teach 100% of everything inside of ENGR145, 100% the same, you’re gonna screw something up. Thus, you changed it and its no longer the same. So silly.

Simply, do what other academics have done before you: cite and source.

Another department teaches E145 as ENGR245. Same class but with less outside the classroom distribution.

There are other franchises within MS&E such at ETL (mentioned above Entrepreneur Thought Leadership), STVP (mentioned by Chuck Eesley above who also teaches ENGR145) and BASES. At the heart of their effectiveness is that before they seek to commercialize a technology, they seek to street-smartedly make commercial the founders brain.

In short, they teach engineers how to sell.

The Stanford Alumni Party Scene. You’d think open bar, weekend long party with events galore would be just networking and not-working. I mean, we are talking MBA’s here.

You would think the GSB party scene on a weekend party bender would be entrepreneur free and education free. The reputation, of course, is that the B-school loves to party.

You would be very wrong.

You would be wrong thinking that the Alumni party scene was void of business, entrepreneurship knowledge. Even a weekend alum reunion is packed to the gills with knowledge swaps and mentorship exchanges. About entrepreneurship. About how to hack and algorithmically and arbitragily build up shareholder equity. Arbitragily is the adverb from of arbitrage. It is a new word I just made up that is an adverb that adds to my verb ‘build’ when I am talking about shareholder equity (a big boy phrase for making your company more valuable).

You see, just because most MBA programs seem like a two year vacation at a country club… those GSB faculty know how to infuse What They Don’t Teach at Stanford Business School into an education speech, during a GSB Five Year Reunion weekend three weekends ago.

So. Effen. Seriously.

The b-school invited a speaker (alum of course!) who spoke on “Growth Hacking”. Speaker, Zaw Thet, had people spilling their Napa Valley Chardonnay, Napa Valley Merlot and Napa Valley Pinot while taking notes on the back of their party schedule—Err programs. Growth hacking, for reference, helps pre-founders triple their shareholder equity without a nickel of VC money as they foray into entrepreneurship and transition from pre-founder to founder. Pre-founder is employee #15-5,000 working on a ENGR145 sequel concept, where they pattern iterate and pattern replicate their employers company in to founding a startup of their own.

Zaw Thet spoke and wine swilling GSB-ers actually listened and took effen notes on Friday night at 7PM October 11.

News: No live video feed pumped to “Entrepreneur Corner

I am surprised that Stanford Business school didn’t hire Stanford Audio Visual to do a live satellite uplink with live internet video feed with YouTube archiving. I swear, it is all free on the YouTube. Ahh, perhaps next year’s GSB reunion, they’ll ace it. Oh yeah, P.S. E-corner has an app available on iTunes

Cost of watching 30+ lectures in a $300mm alum funded building is free.

For example, The StartX.

It is a student run, sequel entity jettisoned from SSE ventures. They, the student undergrads, run a student run bookstore that goes head-to-head with Follet’s and Amazon. LOL, they crossed the innovation chasm from the right by selling bookstore stuff. Then they jettisoned a sequel concept to fund and accelerate entrepreneurs with profits from the bookstore.

This sequel concept was a business incubator accelerator (is there a difference?). Incubating the Stanford Incubator featured two accelerators.

The first summer, 2009, they got student teams office space at AOL and cash stipends to build startups. SSE Labs became StartX and was / is an independent 501c3 started by active undergrads. Run by active undergrads.

StartX has no equal. Yes, I know about Viterbi (USC) and SkyDeck (Cal Berkeley). Yes, I also know about the University of Utah where the whole campus is a Mormon business incubator. Yes, I know about MIT’s “Incubator with No Name”. StartX has no equal

Question: Are there power struggles.

Not really any power struggles

Yes, but they are short-lived

Linda Wells, the head of Center for Entrepreneur Studies (CES) previously housed at the b-school, got fired or was forced to quit for trying to reign in either SSE labs or Entrepreneur Week or both. She was anti community involvement starting in appx 2008. She was not exactly an advocate of undergrad lead entrepreneurship initiatives or community led entrepreneurship initiatives. I said entrepreneurship initiatives twice to stress that there are a lot of entrepreneurship initiatives.

Source: Larry Chiang.
Source Plancast comment by Linda Wells about Entrepreneurship Week that was later deleted.

Same fate for b-school deans who emailed the GSB student body to not participate in the innaugural StartX class, summer 2009. Source: Stanford Students Build Their Own Y Combinator

Disclosure: I wrote it to help founders at my community’s college self-fund. I like self funding a lot.
Disclosure: when founders from Stanford sell their companies, I financially benefit from boxes of chocolate chip cookies they FedEx and UPS ship me. My goal is to financially benefit 1x per month.

(insert facebook album: ‘Exit Gifts for Larry Chiang’)

Yes, deans told students to not work with other students. And executed the threat via email.

Those deans are gone 🙂

NOTE: there are like, four instances of this kind of crap. Total. That is four documented cases in years and years. Other schools have four skirmishes for power by Thursday. What is your school like?!

What will Entrepreneurship look like at Stanford in the future.

Stanford has yet to have a perfect calendar year of Entrepreneurship. A perfect year would include:

– Startup School in October
– ENGR145 in Fall, Winter and Spring quarter
– Stanford Entrepreneur Week Feb 7 to March 7 (I know, its a month long on “the Farm”)
– Debut the Beta product TC Disrupt (NYC)
– Speak at Summit at Stanford July 30-Aug 3. Undergrads speak and produce and emcee this $3k/person conference
– Students speak at Tom Kosnik’s ENGR145 Summer session (register for E145 as High School and College Summer Programs) where appx 50% of students are summer high school students destined from top tier engineering school like the UBC, University of Illinois, Georgia Tech, Waterloo, USC, MIT, Penn, Princeton, University of Utah, ASU?, Oregon?, CMU and California Berkeley.

The idea is to mentor as an active undergrad pursuing founding something. The idea is to be a co-hort mentor in a class on entrepreneurship, ENGR145, to people two years older, down to two years younger than you.

What will Entrepreneurship look like at Stanford in the future (CONT)
– Demo at TC August Capital, Summer Deck party

– Sell the company TC Disrupt (SF. Sept 10-14. The company has value from revenue, product, as well as the engineers)


– Repeat this year-to-year.

Students self organize mentorship dinners called TRAINING TABLE. It is held at Stanford athletics. It pattern replicates Y Combinator tuesday night dinners. Once students self-organize without campus administrator oversight, the students are empowered.

Cal sucks because of all the massive fighting between factions 🙁 For specific example, Startup School. YC held it at Cal one year and then YC said never again. Or thought “never again”. Either way, Startup School has never again been on campus at Cal. So sorry to rip on Cal, but see them as a cautionary tale.

So close to Silicon Valley in proximity (Cal is in it)…
So great at producing vibrant gifted founders…
So limp is the entrepreneur energy on campus

Cal, I am cheering for you.

Entrepreneur Month at Stanford Mall (open to Cal :-).

Just co-founded that. I will set it Feb 27- March 27 and kick it off Feb 28 by inviting Augie Garrido to speak. He mentored me and I turned out pretty well. If it creeps out Coach Garrido too much, I will just regurgitate the same things he says over and over and over. And maybe get a UT ass’t coach to speak like Drew.

Btw, I am co-founder of UT eWeek (“#UTeWeek”).

No, I will not be writing the book Why College Campuses Fail (I did Like the book, “How Nations Fail”)

I like boxes of chocolate chip cookies, so I super-hope you do super well. Good luck!!

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