Tuesday, 10 May, 2016
Gothenburg at the beautiful Swedish west coast, historically known as Sweden’s industrial centre with global industry giants like Volvo and SKF, a city of “old” industry production. Chalmers Ventures CEO Linnéa Lindau summarise this well: “I Göteborg har vi mycket verkstad och lite snack”. This is what it’s all about, in Gothenburg there’s a culture of less talking, and more action.
And there are lots of action going on in Gothenburg, far beyond old base industry, destining this region maybe one day will become the centre of entrepreneurship in Sweden! All driven by a tier one institution addicted to entrepreneurship, Chalmers University of Technology. With its well established innovation ecosystem and proven “factory” of venture creation, Chalmers continue to spin out new companies and entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.
But what is really entrepreneurship? And why do new master graduates need this insight and knowledge? Do they really need entrepreneurial skills even if not founding a venture? Before exploring the answers, let’s take one step back.
Sweden has a history of “born global” companies, an exceptional track record and ratio of international successes, in relation to country size and population clearly second to none. A result often explained by our relatively small home market, which force companies to go global. Or maybe the answer is as simple as entrepreneurship being embedded into the Swedish DNA? Few years ago former French President Jacques Chirac expressed this elegantly at a dinner speech in the Stockholm castle:
“…I salute you proud people up north, who have in generations struggled in this beautiful but rough land, but with innovation and hard work you have prevailed and created unprecedented wealth and success, now also in the modern digital era…”
Even if the days might be over when we had to fight for sheer survival in this land on the edge of Europe – the climate of innovation and entrepreneurship remains steaming hot.
So back to the question “what is really entrepreneurship?” And why do we need this, all of us, not only venture creators? There is probably no single answer, but clearly entrepreneurship is about acting in an entrepreneurial way. Wikipedia on entrepreneurship: “One who undertakes an endeavour” In the companies of today challenges are more demanding than ever. Not only should entrepreneurs master ever changing technologies, but also know the mechanics of the sharing economy as well as mastering social network marketing.
So how do you act in an entrepreneurial way? I choose to bring forward three major characteristics; ambition, imagination and courage. Starting with ambition, an entrepreneur is a person who want little more than other’s and is prepared to do and work harder than others.
“A man’s worth no greater than the worth of his ambitions” Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, former Roman Emperor
To be an entrepreneur you also need imagination, to think outside the box but also know your boxes. To think big, envisage the opportunities and to be global in your mind.
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” Albert Einstein
Then finally courage, maybe the most important ingredient of entrepreneurship. Courage to never give up, to challenge the conventions and to change if proven wrong.
“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts” Winston Churchill
Continued prosperity in Sweden depends on the creation of strong companies. New ventures just don’t pop up from thin air. They are built from the soil of venture creation in a culture of entrepreneurship. You don’t need to start your own company or work in a venture to act in an entrepreneurial way. Every role from the bottom to the top in any company would benefit from some entrepreneurial spirit!
Generate 1.000 great ideas, stick them to 1.000 entrepreneurial people, coach the best into growth and eventually we will add 10 new Swedish unicorns!
Therefore, the board of Chalmers have given Chalmers Ventures the mission to make sure, by latest 2020, more than 50% of all students leave the University with profound knowledge of and being indoctrinated by the culture of entrepreneurship!