I was sporting a little attitude on Saturday and was looking to spark a friendly rivalry, so I tweeted out the following:
It got a fair bit of response from UCF Business alums, but to my dismay silence from our friends in Tallahassee. Eh, my guess is that Seminoles don’t work on the weekend.
Anyway in case you missed it, the Moran family donated $100 million to fund a new School of Entrepreneurship at FSU. It is a remarkable act of generosity by the family that will certainly elevate entrepreneurship at FSU and hopefully have a huge impact on Florida’s economy. Kudos to all involved.
That said, the point of the tweet was to underscore my view that the catalyst for entrepreneurship is rarely big bucks. I have a framed quote in my office from Rutherford that reads: “We haven’t the money, so we’ve got to think.” Necessity really is the mother of invention and transformational change rarely comes from the well-financed. It usually comes from some upstart with a disruptive idea willing to push through to the market and success. Universities rarely need tens of millions of dollars and shiny new buildings to help students along; just enough resources to provide mentoring, a place to test ideas and a path to some modest funds at the right time. That is the whole idea behind our Blackstone Launch Pad that as Cameron notes, has been bending the culture at UCF and facilitating student entrepreneurs from all across campus at record rates for a few years now.
Some of that success can be credited to a dynamic entrepreneurship community in Orlando who have pitched in to help link students to the resources they need (something I suspect they are having to create in Tallahassee as part of the project), but I think it is also the result of our decentralized approach that emphasizes fluid partnerships and places for entrepreneurially-minded students to come together in ways that empower them to take full ownership of their ideas.
Would a few more well-placed gifts help us scale our efforts to start more new businesses? Yes! But, the secret sauce to our success in entrepreneurship at UCF is our culture. And I don’t think centralization of the kind at the heart of the FSU project is going to outperform our strategy in the long-run. Time will tell, but I think we are very well positioned for this challenge. Game on, ‘Noles. See you on Shark Tank.