When Engineers Meet Entrepreneurship

Stanford University

Incredible things happen when entrepreneurial skills are layered on top of deep technical knowledge. New products are created that solve real world problems. Markets and industries spring up where none existed before.

And while all individuals reap the benefits of developing entrepreneurial skills, when engineers engage with this type of knowledge, tremendous potential for economic and societal growth is unleashed. Here are some viewpoints on what happens when entrepreneurship skills and engineering collide.

Engineers Come to Understand Customers

The most radical thing a new company can do is sell their product, says serial entrepreneur Steve Blank. He believes that the company founders — not the sales team — should be the first to try to turn a profit, as they will learn firsthand about their product’s shortcomings and usability. Great engineers should directly understand what their customers need. Of course, this idea should also be true for scientists.

Remain Passionate About Entrepreneurship

Renowned entrepreneur and investor Vinod Khosla believes entrepreneurship is the driving engine of the economy. However, the path to entrepreneurial success will be littered with traps of self doubt and setbacks. Khosla reminds engineers to stay committed to their dreams with a passion, as this is an essential ingredient to becoming a change-maker in the world.

Engineers Can Learn Entrepreneurship Skills

Engineers, and students from other technical fields, can learn entrepreneurial skills covering finance, organizational strategy and business model generation, says investor Randy Komisar. These skills are useful for engineers because they provide context about the personality and character of entrepreneurship.

However, according to Komisar, entrepreneurial skills are only part of the equation. In the following clip, he argues that possessing a suitable entrepreneurial character will also come into play. While we believe students can improve their comfort levels for working in environments full of uncertainty and ambiguity, Komisar sees this attribute as an inherent trait that only some individuals possess.