It’s a perennial question: study entrepreneurship in school or throw your cash on the table and start your company?
What’s working–and what’s not–in entrepreneurial education is the subject of a new research initiative housed at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Earlier this month, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a large private foundation devoted to entrepreneurship, awarded a $1.5 million grant to Yael Hochberg, a leading researcher at the Jones School, to study the effects of entrepreneurship education on startup success. The five-year project will track the outcomes of a group of startups receiving a free, concentrated entrepreneurship curriculum.
It stands to reason, she says, that any entrepreneur could benefit from classroom instruction about concepts like the cost of customer acquisition or the terms used on term sheets. Likewise, if an entrepreneurial education included formal mentorships and networking opportunities, how could that be a bad thing? Hochberg plans to survey entrepreneurs–including those with no previous business schooling–about the specific components of their educations–be they term sheets terms, mentorships, networking, etc. The data will help her and her team learn which of those components the entrepreneurs still find valuable, at various stages into the companies they’ve launched. The surveying will also be controlled for founder ages, previous education levels, and other variables.