Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #9

Feeling inspired, multiple revenue streams, a conversation with a master of PR, and teaching people about teaching entrepreneurship

I planned to scale back my articles this month. I told myself, “It’s the holidays, less people are going to be reading, so why bother?” But then I got lots of messages in response to last week’s issue with people telling me how much they appreciated seeing someone else working hard on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Your messages inspired me to keep pushing. So… here you go… three articles, an incredible podcast episode with Craig Kanarick, founder of 90s dot-com darling Razorfish, and my usual Q&A at the end.

As always, keep working hard, keep sharing these emails with other people, and keep sending your questions about startups and entrepreneurship. Just reply to this email, @-me on Twitter, or message me on LinkedIn.

-Aaron


First Rule of Entrepreneurship: Always Have Multiple Revenue Streams

Savvy investors don’t just look for startups with the potential for huge success. They also look for startups with high resiliency. One of the best ways to be a resilient startup is to diversify your revenue streams.


Craig Kanarick - The Blue-Haired Designer Who Rebranded Companies for the Digital Age

In 1994, Craig Kanarick co-founded Razorfish, one of the first global digital media design agencies. By 1999, the company had 1,200+ employees, nearly a dozen offices around the world, almost $100m in annual revenue, and a successful IPO. By 2001, Craig and his co-founder had been forced out after they'd become the poster boys of dot-com excess. So what really happened? Find out on the newest episode of Web Masters.

Listen to Craig’s story on:

…or just search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


Can You Avoid the One Mistake Every Entrepreneur Makes?

When most entrepreneurs launch new businesses, they start by planning their products. But your product isn’t as important as you think. Do you know why?


Is It Possible to Fundraise During the Holiday Season?

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, fundraising slows to a crawl as seemingly ever investor in the world goes on vacation. So what happens if you’re trying to raise money? Is fundraising even possible?


Office Hours Q&A

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QUESTION:

Maybe it's just me, but I've been seeing more & more colleges offer entrepreneurship as a major. Is it possible to "learn" how to be an entrepreneur in a classroom setting? Can students be taught to be risk-takers? I'm genuinely curious what founders & VCs out there think

- Jai

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I’m taking a slightly different type of question this week. A VC on Twitter asked the above question (here’s a direct link), and one of my followers pinged me to ask for a response. I thought I’d share it here, too, because it’s a question I get often. Lots of people don’t think entrepreneurship is something that can be taught in a classroom.

As you’d expect from an entrepreneurship educator, I fundamentally disagree. But it’s not for the reason you probably think.

Instead, I disagree because the question is based on a flawed premise designed to put people like me -- entrepreneurship educators -- on the defensive. The question asserts that entrepreneurship education is about teaching people how to be entrepreneurs, and then asks how that’s possible.

In other words, the question tries to force me to defend myself by saying, “Of course it’s possible to teach people how to be entrepreneurs in a classroom setting. Here’s how…”

I’m not falling for it!

Instead, I want to point out the flaw in the argument. Jai is assuming that majoring in entrepreneurship means learning to become an entrepreneur, but that’s a hugely problematic claim. After all, we don’t assume being a Literature major means learning to be Shakespeare. Why assume majoring in Entrepreneurship means learning to be Steve Jobs?

The job of entrepreneurship educators -- including what I do here in EOH -- isn’t to teach people how to be entrepreneurs. Our job is to teach about concepts related to entrepreneurship. How you decided to use that information, is, of course, completely up to you. If you want to learn about entrepreneurship and build your own company, great! But, if you want to study entrepreneurship and then become a kindergarten teacher, that’s fine, too.

Also, to be fair, this is true of every type of education. I know plenty of people who went to law school and didn’t become lawyers. I know plenty of people who majored in engineering who “engineer” less things in a given day than me. Heck, Ken Jeong has an MD and became a famous actor/comedian.

Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!