Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

What’s an entrepreneur?

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.

2 responses to “What’s an entrepreneur?

  1. steve February 9, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Cool Jose Luis – you’re definitely in the right place to work out what being entrepreneur is all about. Even though I like our Barcelona HQ I’m jealous of you guys out there in the Valley🙂. Just remember to get some sleep as well ok?🙂

  2. Maria February 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Yes, entrepreneurship is a way of life😀

    Silicon Valley’s ecosystem multiplies the success probability in technology startups, and a technology startup is a good school for entrepreneurs and a good way to make an impact (obviously not all of them). But not for every other way of entrepreneurship you need to be there!

    The other good example of an entrepreneur changing the world is, in my view, a social entrepreneur. Those probably need to be closer to the realities they are changing and I guess developing countries are their personal Silicon Valley. Also a great school.

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