Last semester, we asked students, alumni, and faculty to recognize entrepreneurship professors at their universities. We received an overwhelming number of nominations that we vetted and compiled into a list of Top 25 Entrepreneurship Professors of 2013. In an effort to recognize other individuals instrumental in entrepreneurship education at the university level, we opened a ballot to recognize Entrepreneurs in Residence. Surprisingly, we did not receive as many nominations as we hoped for.
To understand why this was the case, we asked various students if they were familiar with the role of entrepreneur in residence at their respective universities. Some students had a firm grasp of what their EIR did and had direct relationships with them through related classes and programs. Many students were somewhat familiar with the concept of an EIR and others had no clue.
This begs the question: What exactly does an entrepreneur in residence at a university do?
Alexis Ohanian, Cofounder of reddit, stopped by The University of Texas at Austin on a leg of his multi-city tour to talk entrepreneurship, startups, and about his upcoming book Without Their Permission. In this book, Ohanian shares his ideas and tips about harnessing the power of the web for profit, fun, and the good of humankind. Ohanian later chats with Cam Houser, 3 Day Startup (3DS) CEO, to explore the future of student entrepreneurship. “Are the people in this room going to save us?” Ohanian asked, as he addresses a young crowd of faces.
One of the key take aways from Ohanian’s talk is that entrepreneurship is truly accessible in this day and age. “The internet has made the world flat,” said Ohanian. This means that a student from Mexico has the same access to the thousands of resources available to a student in New York City.
“College is a time for students to experiment and reach their own level of awesome,” said Ohanian. He elaborates by talking about his own experience in trying to start a company with Steve Huffman while they were still studying at UVA. Although they did not get accepted into Y Combinator with their initial idea, the two eventually founded reddit in 2005 after graduating.
“Do not be afraid of failure. Most people don’t know what they’re doing!” said Ohanian.
How daunting is it for you as a student to start your own enterprise? Are there resources and networks in Austin that can support your endeavors?
One of the biggest frustrations 3 Day Startup hears is how lonely the journey of a university student entrepreneur is. But you are not alone. The ability to find a community and collaborate with peers is essential in cultivating and refining an idea into a fully-formed business. 3 Day Startup is lucky to be located in Austin — a city that is full of opportunities to find your voice and your platform.
As Austin Startup Week boldly claims, “Austin is a big-little city and an emerging entrepreneurial hub offering a culture built on collaboration. We continue to rank high on best places to live and work. If that doesn’t do it for you, we also have awesome BBQ, fantastic live music, tons of community events, and plenty of sunshine.”
For anyone starting out, there are plenty of resources to sift through. We’ve compiled a list of organizations, resources, and programs that can help you kickstart your ventures.