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Catalyze CU

Sharing knowledge

Experts: Open source entrepreneurship the next big thing

By Alexandra Janney

For the Camera

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, if you have the right guidance. With a body of knowledge that is open sourced and publicly available, you can be your best mentor in learning what it takes to launch your own venture.

That was the message Wednesday from Boulder venture capitalist Brad Feld and Bill Aulet, managing director of Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. The duo spoke as part of a program promoting Catalyze CU, the summer startup accelerator designed for CU students and faculty.

Aulet said entrepreneurs must have four characteristics: heart, head, hands and home.

“I call it the 4-H Club,” said Aulet. “To be an entrepreneur you have to have heart. You have to want it for yourself. It’s not something that can be forced. You have to under- stand what the process is and you have to be willing to fight through the hard parts you inevitably will face. You also have to have the head, the knowledge and framework for your idea. But having the head and the heart is insufficient if you can’t put it into practice. You need to use your hands and make it work. Which brings me to the last H, home.

Ultimately, it’s about building a community.”

Both Aulet and Feld said entrepreneurship should be open sourced and the body of knowledge available to everyone. With the right guidance, anyone should have the opportunity to pursue their own ventures, the duo said.

“Entrepreneurship is a craft,” Aulet said. “It’s not a sci ence where you do A and B and know that C will happen. It’s not deterministic, nor is it an art for a chosen few.”

The role of mentors is sometimes overplayed with startups, Aulet said. “The thing about a startup venture is it’s something that has never been done before. Nobody can give you the right answer. You have to do it with your skill set in your situation. There is no algorithm.”

Aulet said entrepreneurs have to experience failure in order to grasp how to move forward in developing successful businesses.

Entrepreneurs who have grown frustrated with early efforts or who are “flatlining” in terms of growth, should call it quits.

“You shouldn’t settle for mediocrity. If your firm is going to flatline, you should force it to fail, come back around and go for something that will give you high growth. If it’s not going to work, close it down.”

Bill Aulet opens the discussion Wednesday. Brad Feld, co-founder of Foundry Group and Techstars, and Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, hosted a fireside chat at the University of Colorado's Catalyze CU to discuss university entrepreneurship.

Photos by Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

Brad Feld, right, and Bill Aulet talk during their fireside chat at the University of Colorado's Catalyze CU to discuss university entrepreneurship.

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