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Thoughts by José Luis Agell
What’s an entrepreneur?
February 8, 2009Posted by on
One of the main reasons that made us come to the Silicon Valley was the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship. This is a word that has frequently come up in my daily life for the last two years. It is definetely a successful word.
But why is it so successful? I guess it is because it doesn’t mean a mere job position or a working status. It goes far beyond that. It means a way of working, thinking and living.
The root of this word comes from French meaning to undertake or take action. Richard Cantillon (1680-1734) was the first credited the term to describe a person who undertakes a new enterprise. Since then, many people have tried to define this state with appropriate words. I heard once in a conference: “Entrepreneurs are disatisfied people who don’t give up“. And I think it is a very good definition.
When I was at the ETH Zürich, I took a very interesting and challenging course called New Enterprises for Engineers. Through this course, Professor Abhari gave us the key tools and tips to start a technical company and we had to build up a business plan and present it in front of some angels.
These are the main characteristics we used to define an entrepreneur:
• Knowledge related to a specific field
• Unconditional commitment and passion to the opportunity of providing customer value
• Commitment to gathering resources
• Focus on resource management
• Driven to “Make it happen”
• Great level of self confidence and radiance
• Energetic with high level of expectation
• Willingness to overturn status quo in face of opportunity
• Perseverance with flexibility
• Leadership and communication skills to motivate others
Last 3 centuries have brought many succesful entrepreneurial stories around the world, starting by Thomas Edison who accomplished the commercial lightining and electrification. However, in the last 20 years the word entrepreneur has been strongly related to the Silicon Valley because of the huge success of technology and software companies (HP,Cisco, Google, Apple, Twitter…) . It is obviously not the only place where people try to change the world with their start-ups, but there is a particular ecosystem that multiplies your success possibilities.