Student entrepreneurs have a good track record. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook while at Harvard, Larry Page and Sergey Brin who set up a search engine which later became Google while doing a Ph.D. in computer science, not to mention Michael Dell of Dell computers, who dropped out of the University of Texas and reputedly did not tell his parents. And when Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard after two years to pursue his business idea with Paul Allen, it became Microsoft. And so the list goes on.
And it seems there is a good reason why those student businesses that hit the right formula succeed. Student entrepreneurs are more likely to be in a hurry. An academic study shows how student tech entrepreneurs are more likely to value speed than their more mature academic counterparts. In today’s rapidly changing tech world, as Moore’s Law speeds up technological advance second by second, it’s all about speed.
In the not-so-catchily title Control Versus Execution: Endogenous Appropriability and Entrepreneurial Strategy, Assistant Professor Kenny Ching from University College School of Management, London with Joshua Gans at the Rotman School of Management and Scott Stern at MIT Sloan find that while students are more concerned about how quickly they can produce an idea, faculty entrepreneurs will spend more time acquiring formal intellectual property assets.
Student-led ventures commercialize their activities much faster, Ching says:
“Our analysis suggests that student entrepreneurs, with less time and with less access to university intellectual property institutions, are more likely to choose an execution-oriented strategy. Compared to University faculty, who are more likely to be patient, wait for delayed market entry and pursue a control-oriented strategy with formal protection”.
The authors conclude that while there is no one size fits all for start-up strategies, entrepreneurs need to be aware of the different strategic options and evaluate which is most suitable for them.