How Bennett University Plans to Transform Entrepreneurship Education

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Bengaluru, March 22, 2016: A lot has been said and heard about how entrepreneurship is not a novel concept in India. Yet the science and art of entrepreneurship changed significantly over the last few years. Conversations on student startups, incubators and funding are omni-present. Campuses around the world are preparing to embrace a growing wave of innovation riding on the spirit of entrepreneurship. University culture, curricula and faculty capabilities need to adapt – to support and leverage the emerging opportunities. In this context, I would like to highlight some of the initiatives that Bennett University is launching for promoting entrepreneurship education in its under and post-graduate programs.

First, let’s build on the fact that entrepreneurship is a way of life. It’s a way of thinking and acting. These fundamental capabilitiesrevolve around creative thinking, risk taking and collaborative work. These fundamental capabilities help acquire and implement other functional skills like company formation, understanding customer needs; creating a marketing plan and attracting major capital.We will introduce courses for undergraduates at year 1 and year 2to develop these foundational capabilities. For MBA, in year 1 these skills will be inculcated as part of the core courses.

The interesting and unique thing about Bennett University is that we are not going to go about explicitly “planting” these skills in people. We are saying that everything does not have to have a separate course for itself. Let’s take the simple example of working in teams, which we think every potential entrepreneur has to master. So, can you have a course on working effectively in teams? Sure. Can you have a course on leading teams? Sure. But is there a better way to do it? The answer is yes. What we intend to do is take that belief, take that practice and then embed it in every course that we teach. Whether we are teaching operating systems to computer science under-graduates, or mechanical system design to mechanical engineers students, we provide assignments and new projects in a way that promotes collaboration and team work. And working in teams is just one example. In our programs, every critical aspect of entrepreneurship education will be similarly embedded for intrinsic learning. So that is the first differentiator for Bennett University.

The second approach will be in the fact that we are actually encouraging people to think differently and take a chance to better themselves. The university is actually a very safe environment to fail and we actually don’t use the word fail. The university is a very safe environment to experiment and learn. So we are creating an incubator that says come to us in year one. The lack of experience is alright. Fresh out of school, you have some thought that you want to try by experimenting with a few things, thencome to us. We will see if there is merit in your idea and help channelize your energies. So the ‘Hatchery’ – as we call this incubator – is like a playing ground for budding entrepreneurs.It’s perfectly alright if it does not work out – you will be richer from the learning. If you succeed, that much better!

While Bennett University encourages experimentation and learning from failure in a controlled environment, we also would like to highlight the value of a formal education. I do not subscribe to the Thiel Fellowship model. Under this model, Peter says is that I’ll give you money if you want to quit college or don’t go to college at all since Peter doesn’t believe in going to college and then starting businesses. So, if you’re brave enough to drop out of college or not go to college, he’ll give you money to start your business. That’s what happened with Ritesh Agarwal of Oyo Rooms, the only Indian to get a Thiel Fellowship. We do not subscribe to this approach. This model is premature for India.

To elaborate further on the Hatchery, the plan is to engage with real life startups, investors, policy makers and academicians in our effort to help students with their plans. My personal ambition is that within a year or so if we can be the hub of all entrepreneurial activity in Delhi NCR. Eventually, we plan to open up the Hatchery and our other support services to everybody, not just our students.

Another aspect to the entrepreneurship experience at Bennett University is that while you do not need to be an A-lister to be an entrepreneur or use the Hatchery, a good entrepreneurial mindset balances academics, the socialization opportunities on campus and the extra-curricular activities. A balanced personality is needed to succeed. Also, ourCentre forEntrepreneurship and the Hatchery therein are not an isolated part of the university but rather a cross-functional resource for all programs conducted there. In addition to these resources, we will have dedicated faculty for some very specialized, niche entrepreneurial subject, apart from industry experts coming in to take sessions. This will allow us the flexibility to offer a program by say an expert at building e-commerce businesses, or somebody who has done great work in biotechnology, and so on and so forth.

What we at Bennett University aim for is to be the hub for entrepreneurship in North India. What we promise is an exciting start to your entrepreneurial journey.

 

Corporate Comm India (CCI Newswire)

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