I had the pleasure to present to the students of the Master in Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship at my alma mater, Ecole Polytechnique in France.
Some people say that problems between co-founders is the first source of failure for startups. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s clear that the “wrong” choice of a co-founder can have a considerable impact on the success of the startup, the morale of the employees, and the relationship with the investors. I took the students through some real life examples, and really enjoyed the discussion that followed.
Taking a step back, and because I was within the walls of a very traditional French engineering school, it is common knowledge that entrepreneurship in Europe is not at the same level as in the US, and one of the key reasons lies in the education system. I remember when I was at MIT more than 15 years ago, entrepreneurship was almost the first word you heard when you stepped into the school – from your fellow students, your professors and everybody else.
Polytechnique is very well regarded as an engineering school – for example Google is now one of the top employers for new graduates – but was not particularly entrepreneurial. The creation of a Master in Entrepreneurship 3 years ago is therefore a great news, and I was very impressed by the interaction with the students – they are obviously great technical minds, but also possess a lot of the qualities required in startups. Polytechnique has clearly invested in that area, and a new building dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship will be completed in a few months. Congratulations Bruno Martinaud (director of the Master), Matthieu Somekh (director of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Programme) and Elodie Iturria (I&E Programme), they are doing a superb job, and I’m sure we will very soon see a new generation of Polytechniciens entrepreneurs.