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The future of entrepreneurship is in the hands of scientists

At this point, we are full of books, texts and speeches about entrepreneurs, startups and unicorns. Many of the stories in this universe are wrapped in excitement and great promise. But why become an entrepreneur or an entrepreneur? This simple question doesn't get the same attention from authors and market experts. After all, why do so many choose this challenge?


Throughout this text, I will try to bring some insights on the subject. In addition, I will try to explore why I increasingly believe that scientists and researchers (academic or practitioner) should be at the center of the next entrepreneurial revolution.


Why do entrepreneurs do what they do?


For money. Do not believe? Not the initial answer you were hoping for? Okay, I started with the financial aspect for the controversial aspect and initial drama. And also to get it out of the way soon. Just as any customer will tell you that the main factor in deciding to buy something is the price – but in fact any experienced entrepreneur knows that it is much more than that. Therefore, it is clear that if there is no expectation of minimal financial compensation, entrepreneurship becomes an unsustainable option, at least in the long term.


Now let's get down to business. I'm sure that every entrepreneur has a personal reason for taking this path. But there are patterns. Undertaking, especially in the beginning, is an individual decision and a journey of life choices. Many researchers have already investigated entrepreneurial behavior, within very different areas such as Administration, Psychology, Engineering and even Medicine. Authors such as Mclleland (1961), Bandura (1986), Sarasvathy (2001), Ries (2021), among many others, explored the mechanisms of entrepreneurship.


By passion. Entrepreneurs have a strong belief that they can change the state of things, create something better and with more impact (Aulet, 2013). The need for achievement (or conquest) is something studied as one of the characteristics of entrepreneurs. Being successful – whatever the type of success – is something that literally shines in the eyes of those with an entrepreneurial profile. Achievement is one of the three needs advocated by Maclleland (1961) that are widely used in the study of entrepreneurship. The other two are the need for power and the need for affiliation.


For the opportunity. Conviction is often born of an insight, an epiphany, or even a simple sense of opportunity. An entrepreneur can observe a possibility of acting that no other person was seeing. This look to the future with optimism and willingness to achieve is detected in entrepreneurs (ENDEAVOR 2015). However, it is worth remembering that the entrepreneur is the one who is willing to act, to take the next step.


Out of necessity. Here, we are not talking about the Theory of Needs mentioned above. We are talking about personal and social needs. Many entrepreneurs build their businesses after some difficulty or crisis in their lives or that of their family members. This is particularly common in developing countries with constant shortages and crises. In this case, necessity generates undertakings that are often different from those initiated by opportunity.


By inertia. It seems strange to put inertia as a possibility, but there is the fact that entrepreneurs can inherit a business or become involved in existing businesses of family members and even friends. Another important aspect is that there are people with a very entrepreneurial profile who are always building things in their day-to-day lives without actually getting sense that they are running businesses or initiatives.


By choice. Finally, we arrive at a very curious point, fruit of our times. As startups, founders, investors and innovations became popular, so did the knowledge and theoretical body on the subject. There is now more evidence that, despite the uncertainties, it is possible to follow a rational path when creating technology businesses. And that made it possible for an entrepreneurial career to become increasingly possible and attractive. Let's explore this further.


A third way


Some time ago, specially in Brazil, a person leaving university had practically two choices regarding his professional career. Often that choice was made very early in life: a career in the public sector, perhaps in research or some statutory position, or a career in the private sector.


The current dynamics of the job market has changed and we can easily include one more option: to be an entrepreneur. Not only has the number of startups grown dramatically in recent years (G1, 2020) but also the number of scientists who undertake (Emerge, 2022). Brazil is recognized as a country of entrepreneurs – but many out of necessity, as we have already explained. More and more people are challenging themselves to create their own business, focusing mainly on the technology area.


In addition, support options for the technological founder have grown, such as more laboratories and incubators (public and private), accelerators, early stage investors, innovation and development programs (Barreto et al. 2020). CAOS Focado is one of these actors: we are a group of experienced entrepreneurs who join forces with scientists and technologists to found startups.


There are good examples of scientists and technologists who have impacted society and the market with companies that make a difference. From the examples here at CAOS Focado (of which you can check out here) to other national examples such as Anna Bezerra, Bianca Maniglia, Carlos Guestrin, Sergio Mascarenhas, Caetano Sabino, Ricardo di Lazzaro, among many, many others.


Sound complicated? Well, let's say it's a universe to be explored and that there are a lot of people investing in this path.


Why does the future of entrepreneurship belong to scientists?


First of all, let's be clear: since at least the 18th century, the future has always been in the hands of science. The scientific method brought advances on which even the most emblematic entrepreneurs rely today.


In addition to the motivations of any entrepreneur, as we saw above, there are some that are very attractive for those in academia or researching technological solutions. I would bring up three big "whys" for these people.


Because to run a business is to learn


Entrepreneurs are, above all, passionate about learning, and the learning process is fundamental to the success of what they are creating (Politis, 2005). Well, this is precisely what a scientist or technologist does very well! If the scientific and technical journey brings many challenges to knowledge, the entrepreneurial journey expands these challenges in terms of management, business, leadership, finance and many others.


In addition, it is possible to generate scientific and academic knowledge together with the business with empirical evidence and develop solutions that really affect customers and users.


Because science and technology are means to a better society


Like everything in the recent evolution of our society, entrepreneurship has also undergone a recent refinement process. A new look, more focused on data and evidence, guides today the founders of technology startups. A scientist or academic is usually comfortable with methods and information processing.


Bringing about change closer to people is something that many scientists want. The creation of a startup can bring those who develop technology closer to the people who are effectively impacted by it.


Why not?


Scientists, experts and technologists are people who seek to push the boundaries of knowledge and technology. And doing this through entrepreneurship has been a good hypothesis for thousands of innovators. To learn more about the founders of deep tech ventures, click aqui.

 

Rodrigo Franco, Head of Venture Building at CAOS Focado. Rodrigo is a designer, communicator, entrepreneur, teacher and creative generalist. He was the acceleration coordinator of the AWC program, collaborates with startups, projects and high-tech initiatives for the creative economy.


References


Bandura, A. (1982). Self-Efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency. American Psichologist, 37(2), 122–147.

Barretto, M. R. P., Ribeiro, A. T. V. B., Dutra, D. de S., & Esteves, R. F. (2020). Early Stage: Shell For Scientific Entrepreneurship Playbook (2o). https://doi.org/10.5151/9786555060461

Endeavor. (2015). CULTURA EMPREENDEDORA NO BRASIL: o potencial para empreender com Alto Impacto. Recuperado de https://endeavor.org.br/ambiente/cultura-empreendedora-brasil-pesquisa/

Emerge [s/d]. HORIZONTE INOVAÇÃO & CIÊNCIA – o perfil da inovação de base científica no Brasil. Recuperado de https://emergebrasil.in/horizonte-inovacao-ciencia-o-perfil-da-inovacao-de-base-cientifica-no-brasil/. Acesso em 22 fev 2022.

Frederiksen, D.L., Brem, A. How do entrepreneurs think they create value? A scientific reflection of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup approach. Int Entrep Manag J 13, 169–189 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-016-0411-x

McClelland, D. C., & Mac Clelland, D. C. (1961). Achieving society (Vol. 92051). Simon and Schuster.

Politis, D. (2005). The Process of Entrepreneurial Learning: A Conceptual Framework. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 29(4), 399–424. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6520.2005.00091.x

Ries, E. (2012). A startup enxuta. In Leya (1o ed). São Paulo: Leya.

Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial? Darden Business Publishing, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.909038

G1. (2020). Número de startups no Brasil aumentou 20 vezes nos últimos oito anos; 11 já são unicórnios. Recuperado de https://g1.globo.com/globonews/noticia/2020/01/15/numero-de-startups-no-brasil-aumentou-20-vezes-nos-ultimos-oito-anos-11-ja-sao-unicornios.ghtml

Wylinka (2021). 5 lições sobre empreendedorismo na academia com a inventora do plástico ecológico de babaçu. Recuperado de https://medium.com/deep-wylinka/5-li%C3%A7%C3%B5es-sobre-empreendedorismo-na-academia-com-a-inventora-do-pl%C3%A1stico-ecol%C3%B3gico-de-baba%C3%A7u-9d61cc9c6e43 em 23 fev 2021.



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