Entrepreneurial Education is Key for Maintaining Momentum

Shannon Beeman
March 1, 2013

In a competitive world, knowledge is power – and Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) Founder David J. Brophy, Director and Professor of Finance at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business said entrepreneurs need to approach investors with the right information to get deals done. “It’s not enough to have an idea, it’s not enough to have a technology – you have to have a defined need, an addressable market, and an expert team that has domain knowledge in the field in which you’re trying to sell your product,” he said. “The product has to meet a clearly visible, well-defined point of pain among a group of customers that is substantial and growing.”

While universities have developed strong entrepreneurial studies courses, Brophy said real world contact and relationship building is a key part of a good education for business builders. “What we’re finding to be very effective, and I’m finding to be effective in my courses, is to bring entrepreneurs into contact with investors so that they learn to speak to each other and be developmental rather than judgmental,” he said. “That’s the key dichotomy for me.” Brophy suggests recruiting local investors, followed by alumni and associates of alumni. “It’s being done already at a certain level,” he said, “but I want to put the spurs to it and increase it so we are doing more and more of it.”

Of course, networking is not only vital for university students – all entrepreneurs need to develop contacts and get to know what investors are looking for and thinking about. That has always been the prime objective of the MGCS, but Brophy said that focus needs to be continually renewed and heralded. “We dare not let the horse slow down, because this is all a moving target,” he said. “We cannot sit back and pat ourselves on the back over how well we’re doing. We’re doing well relative to our own history, but we’re in this moving market. Everybody else is doing well too. How do we gain ground? How do we get market share? We can’t quit. That should be the constant mantra of the Symposium.”