Make the students think
"I put the responsibility on them in class," says Tim Folta, the Brock Family Chair in Strategic Management at the Krannert School. "If a student makes a statement, I’ll ask them to substantiate the claim. I don’t just want to lecture. I want to challenge them and have them challenge one another."
Folta has taught entrepreneurship and strategic management at every level at the Krannert School, including undergraduate, master's, executive education, and doctoral. His research focuses on firm entry and exit, with a particular emphasis on entrepreneurial ventures.
In a recent article published in Management Science, Folta and two researchers from Stockholm, Sweden, looked at the implications of starting an entrepreneurial venture while retaining a primary wage job. These so-called "hybrid entrepreneurs" can learn about an opportunity's upside potential or their own fit in entrepreneurship before committing more fully to a venture.
"We believe that hybrids may be more likely to transition into full-fledged entrepreneurs," Folta says. "We were interested enough in the results of our first study that we would like to do further work on the performance implications of hybrid entrepreneurs."
In addition to his teaching and research, Folta serves as a director of BIOMEDSHIP. That program pairs Krannert MBA students with doctoral students from science, with a goal of providing training in innovation and entrepreneurship in the context of biomedical technology.
What separates BIOMEDSHIP from other programs is that the students do not bring an existing medical technology into the process. Rather, the students start the process with a clinical need.
"We had one recent project where students looked at vocal chord dysfunction, where the vocal chords contract and make it difficult for patients to breathe," Folta says. "The students came up with concepts and technical solutions, and built a business plan and model around them."
"Venture capitalists tell us that the opportunities with highest potential begin with meeting clinical needs."
Folta, who earned a master's degree and doctorate from Purdue, received a 2009-10 Fulbright Special Award. He has spent four months in Calabria and Rome as a senior research scholar, lecturing and conducting research on high-technology entrepreneurship.
"My host in Italy is oriented toward social sciences, and I'm more geared to rational models of behavior and quantitative research," Folta says. "But we share many common interests. In fact, we’re even writing a paper together with other researchers about the role of prestige in the Italian wine industry."