As local communities and policymakers have recognized the importance of entrepreneurship to economic growth and stability, as well as a driver of innovation, it has become increasingly necessary to talk about educating the next entrepreneurial generation.
Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown University Entrepreneurship Initiative, Startup Hoyas, discussed howGlobal Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) are important programs to support future entrepreneurs.
The GCEC is a global conference for university entrepreneurship educators and administrators, focused on brainstorming innovative new techniques, strategies and curriculum for teaching entrepreneurship, as well as how to build strong, local startup communities for students and alumni.
Reid has attended the GCEC since its inception in1999, when it was NCEC and there were about 30 entrepreneurship centers participating – and has now grown to include more than 150 centers around the world. Georgetown hosted the GCEC in 2012.
Q: Please describe your university’s signature or featured GEW event each year (i.e. a GEW kick-off party, celebrity keynote speaker, business plan or idea competition, etc.)
REID: We hold our annual “Rocket Pitch” event during GEW. This event features around 20 student teams making two-minute pitches to an audience of more than 150 students, faculty, alumni, and other business leaders. We also have a keynote speaker and finish with a reception. It’s a great way to get our entire community together to celebrate entrepreneurship.
We also hold a Venture Capital Investment Competition during GEW each year, providing around 60 of our MBA students a deep-dive into the world of early stage venture investing.
Other events we have held during GEW include:
- We kicked off GEW in 2011 and 2012 at our annual Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day event – including student rocket pitches – and by ringing the gong (with Carl Schramm in 2011, and with Erin Wiley in 2012)
- In 2013, I testified to Congress during GEW about the importance policy focused on “startups” and not simply “small businesses.”
- In 2015, I co-hosted (with GEN President Jonathan Ortmans and U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet) a ministerial roundtable on Global entrepreneurship policy, featuring ambassadors and other senior diplomats from 25 countries.
Q: What impact does GEW have on entrepreneurship or business students, the campus, and the local community?
REID: GEW is an excellent way to focus attention on entrepreneurship. GEW gives us a vehicle to connect with audiences that might not otherwise be thinking about entrepreneurship. It provides a rallying point for us to celebrate entrepreneurship, and helps our students recognize that their entrepreneurship peer group reaches far beyond our campus, that they are part of a truly global entrepreneurship community.
Q: Why is entrepreneurship education important, and how does GEW encourage or create awareness of entrepreneurship education?
REID: Entrepreneurship is still viewed by many people as a “magical” process undertaken by special, almost superhuman people. Entrepreneurship education dispels the mythology and instills students with a set of skills and mindsets that allow them to view themselves as entrepreneurial and in control of their own future. GEW provides a way for educators to connect their entrepreneurial students with a global community of peers, and to raise the overall profile of entrepreneurship within their academic and business communities.
Q: What do you hope to gain from attending this year’s GCEC?
REID: I look forward to GCEC every year as a place to learn new ideas for programs and curriculum, to keep up-to-date with trends in our field, and to connect with old and new friends. Entrepreneurship education can sometimes be a lonely endeavor with few people at our schools who understand what we do, so being around a group of peers always reinvigorates me.