On Thursday night, a group of around fifty entrepreneurs—or those interested in entrepreneurship—packed into a small room in White Gravenor, to gain some insider knowledge from the respected Jeff Reid. And he did not disappoint.
The presentation “I Am Entrepreneur,” co-hosted by Common Sense, the Credit Union, and Startup Hoyas engaged those interested in the innovation ecosystem. Reid posed a question to launch this conversation: Who is an entrepreneur? The audience threw out the big ones: Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett…the list went on. After about 10 names, and as soon as one student triumphantly shouted “Steve Jobs,” presumably happy to be the individual to name the most obvious entrepreneur, Reid met responded with an enthusiastic (and slightly sarcastic) “Great!”
Chastising the fact that the audience had just listed out the ten most famous white men who had succeeded in tech-savvy startups targeting a narrow market, Reid emphasized that “entrepreneurship can be non-archetypical too.” Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, target a wide variety of customers, but have one common denominator: they solve problems.
The presentation’s format offered room for a conversation: Reid asked the crowd
what about entrepreneurship they wished to learn more about, and then touched upon a range of topics—from on-campus resources, to funding options, to technological help, and even discussed exit strategies. Some snippets of advice included “Ideas are cheap…execution is where value is added,” or “Business planning is old school…nothing more than creative writing,” and “You don’t need a finished product to get started.” He also offered personal experience to the crowd, humbly admitting he has been fired from his previous 4 jobs: “The first time you get fired, it’s a shock; but by the third or fourth time, it’s not such a big deal.” As an entrepreneur, one will learn to bounce back from failure and turn it into a learning experience.
In addressing how students should pursue a career in startups, Reid proposed the following: “Figure out what you want to do, and go do it. The cool thing about startups is that if there isn’t one out there that aligns with what you want to do, you can make your own.”
He ended the conversation with a confidence booster for the Georgetown students in the crowd: “Georgetown has an amazing talent for entrepreneurship, because the community is one that wants to make a change.” And that is a simplified definition of an entrepreneur: one who seeks to make a change.