All those who know me well know that my ultimate goal in life is to be an entrepreneur and a teacher. If I combine both, we get a new term “Academic Entrepreneur.” And that is what I want to be. And like Prof. Randy Pausch said in The Last Lecture, “If you can sell, why not sell education.”
I have always believed Professors are entrepreneurs. Now don’t go rolling on the floor laughing about that statement. I am sure many of you do not agree, maybe because you never had that kind of teachers around you. But I am sure some would agree as well who have had the chance to study and work with some of the academic entrepreneurs around the world. In simple terms, that is what I think Professors should be. They should be entrepreneurs, academic entrepreneurs.
Academic Entrepreneur and Business Entrepreneurs – A Comparison
Here is how we can relate between the two:
1. Research is a very planned process. Professors write proposals (= Business Plans), talk about why they are doing that research (=Mission Statement) and chalk out steps and experiments to achieve it (= Products).
2. Professors also have to work hard to get Research Grants (= Funding, Investor Search)
3. Once they get funding, they hire post-docs and students to help them out (= Hiring)
4. Once Professors get funding and start work, they have to send progress reports regularly to the institution that has provided the funds (= Shareholder, Investor Meetings)
5. If the research yields a new finding, Profs can file a patent and sell licenses to that (= New Product)
6. Coming to tough parts as well. If funding is low and results don’t show, Profs have to let go of post-docs and students working for them (= Firing)
7. Finally, if it really does not work out, they have to shut shop, sorry, lab (= Filing Bankruptcy)
Now, do you believe that Professors are entrepreneurs too? Academics, like entrepreneurs, should be respected and given value. It is as hard to be a good academic as it is to be a successful entrepreneur.