Last night, I attended the Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) Council Meeting at OpenMiKE at the Grand Avenue Mall. The meeting was opened by Telvin Jeffries of Kohl’s Corporation, who is Co-Chair of the MiKE Leadership Council. Mr. Jeffries had the pleasure of announcing Milwaukee Innovation Week which will be June 6-11, 2012. This first-of-its-kind event for Milwaukee promises to provide a whirl-wind of activity for local entrepreneurs. Steve Glynn and Laurel Osman of MiKE detailed the plans for the week, including the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference to be held June 5-6.
Next up was the keynote speaker for the evening, Daniel Isenberg. Isenberg is a Babson Global Professor of Management Practice and the founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project (BEEP). He is a leading authority on international entrepreneurship, and has taught at Harvard, Columbia, Insead, Reykjavik, Theseus, and the Technion. Isenberg has also been an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and angel investor.
Isenberg started by asking the attendees for their definition of entrepreneurship. It was interesting to hear the various answers. Isenberg’s definition is:
“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit, creation, and capture of extraordinary value.”
Isenberg also described entrepreneurship as an often a contrarian activity with opportunity driven by what others may view as “worthless, impossible or stupid.”
Some of his other points:
- Entrepreneurship is not only “startups.”
- His definition of entrepreneurship may exclude micro-businesses or “small businesses” since they are often more about self-employment than creating extraordinary value.
- Entrepreneurship does not need “innovation.” He talked about how “copy cat models,” real estate, retail and trade, technology, professional services, business model innovation, construction, subcontractor manufacturing, and agriculture can all create high value without any significant innovations.
- Isenberg talked about Lemonade Day and NFTE as being useful resources for teaching entrepreneurship.
- He listed four “must read” books for entrepreneurs: Blue Streak: Inside jetBlue, the Upstart that Rocked an Industry by Barbara Peterson; Revolution in a Bottle by Tom Szaky; Starting from Scrap by Stephen H. Greer; and Stop and Sell the Roses: Lessons from Business and Life by Jim McCann.
- Lastly, Isenberg presented the domains of his Entrepreneurship Ecosystem model, which included Policy, Finance, Culture, Support, Human Capital, and Markets.
In all, it was a fascinating presentation by someone who is clearly an expert in entrepreneurship. A big “thank you” to Daniel Isenberg for visiting Milwaukee and presenting at MiKE. Special thanks also go out to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and UWM’s Lubar School of Business for sponsoring the MiKE Council Meeting and to Transfer for providing pizza and drinks.