A view of the Knight Management Center

The Five Lenses of Entrepreneurship

When people think “entrepreneur,” they often envision the founder of a small set of fast-growing companies. But entrepreneurship takes many forms.

Whether you want to start your own firm, join a rapidly scaling startup, or focus on social innovation, Stanford GSB curriculum allows you to build and expand your entrepreneurial skills to have impact in many different venues.

Founding a Company

Allison Stern, MBA ’12, and Rob Gabel, MBA ’08, cofounded Tubular Labs.
Allison Stern, MBA ’12 and Rob Gabel, MBA ’08 cofounded Tubular Labs.
Many Stanford GSB courses deal directly with the challenges founders face when evaluating a new venture concept, scaling their business, and leading a team. Courses such as Startup Garage, which provide frameworks for validating ideas, may be a particularly good fit for potential founders, as are startup foundational courses such as Formation of New Ventures. Potential founders can also choose to learn about rapidly scaling a firm in classes such as Managing Growing Enterprises. If you find yourself evaluating a new business idea as part of your learning journey at Stanford GSB, the co-curricular Stanford Venture Studio provides resources beyond the classroom.

Joining an Existing Startup

Celina Johnson, MBA ’08, joined Man Crates as their chief operating officer upon graduating from Stanford GSB
Celina Johnson, MBA ’08, joined Man Crates as their chief operating officer upon graduating from Stanford GSB
Many alumni choose to join an existing startup or high-growth company as their next step on the path to entrepreneurship. In addition to foundational startup courses such as Formation of New Ventures, students aiming to join an existing startup will find a large number of insightful courses, including Scaling Excellence and Strategies of Effective Product Management.

Entrepreneurship by Acquisition

Chris Hendriksen, MBA '06, acquired VRI, a remote patient monitoring solution.
Chris Hendriksen, MBA ’06, acquired VRI, a remote patient monitoring solution.
Rather than founding a new company, some entrepreneurs choose to purchase an existing business, often in partnership with investors, with an eye toward expanding its growth and profitability. This model of “entrepreneurship by acquisition” gives young entrepreneurs an opportunity to lead a company relatively early in their careers. Stanford GSB offers a popular course called Entrepreneurial Acquisition and publishes a biennial review of the search fund industry, which represents a unique and robust part of the entrepreneurial acquisition landscape. Students also have the opportunity to work as summer interns with a recently acquired search fund company as part of the Entrepreneurial Summer Program.

Corporate Innovation

“Intrapreneurship” involves leveraging your entrepreneurial skills to have impact within a larger organization, often by leading change, launching new products, or moving into new business opportunities. Students will find multiple courses supporting innovation and entrepreneurship within existing companies. The popular Industrialist’s Dilemma course examines how some creative companies foster and support innovation within. And courses such as Innovation and Problem Solving or Leading Creativity and Innovation build skills that an entrepreneurial leader can apply in any size company.

Social Innovation

Jenna Nicholas, MBA '17, founded Impact Experience.
Jenna Nicholas, MBA ’17, founded Impact Experience.
Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress. Resources at Stanford GSB for social innovators include the Center for Social Innovation, and a set of specialized courses that include Taking Social Innovation to Scale and Starting and Growing a Social Venture. In addition, many broader entrepreneurship courses, such as Startup Garage, include specialized content for social innovators. And, the co-curricular Stanford Venture Studio provides resources to support social impact entrepreneurs, along with their more traditional entrepreneurial peers.