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Oxford University has produced more founders of ‘unicorn businesses’ (privately held start-up companies with a valuation of US$1 billion or more) than any other in Europe. Building on this admirable history, The Oxford Foundry, a new entrepreneurial hub at the heart of the University, was launched earlier this month.
The Oxford Foundry will drive entrepreneurial activity across the University’s 23,000 students, embracing students from all academic disciplines – from engineering, medicine, history, philosophy and more. It will be a place for students from different backgrounds to experiment, learn from one another, generate ideas and initiatives that address business and societal issues, and develop their entrepreneurial skillset.
Fittingly, the facility was launched by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc., whose advice for the student audience is relevant for all would-be entrepreneurs or leaders of entrepreneurial enterprises.
On being an entrepreneur:
"Your focus group is yourself – you should make products that you want to use. You can bet if you love it, many other people out there will love it too."
“Recruit the friends of yours who are not like you. Find people that are different than you, where the common thread is that they want to change the world."
And on leadership:
“Allow for different opinions.”
“Leadership is about drawing out people. Because it’s the combination of people that amplifies performance.”
“The best [teams] are more like bands – a band has to trust each other.”
“Be intellectually honest – have the courage to change.”
The interview with Tim Cook’s starts 30 minutes into this video of the launch event and his comments on leadership appear about 50 minutes in:
The Oxford Foundry has been created “as an eco-system offering opportunities for idea generation, experiential learning, and the development of an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Students will be encouraged to play a major role in designing and leading activities helping them develop a mindset which will be beneficial in many future contexts. This is not only for students whose ambition is to launch their own start-up; rather it is a part of leadership generally and essential for individuals who will in future be driving innovation from within an organization.
Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry comments: “Entrepreneurship is of increasing importance to students. As a generation, millennials desire to be more socially responsible, innovative and to make an impact. Whether starting their own ventures or aspiring to lead in organizations, the Oxford Foundry will develop students’ entrepreneurial skills, understanding and self-efficacy. The aim is to create future leaders whatever career they pursue.”
The Saïd Business School is Europe’s fastest growing business school. An integral part of the University of Oxford, it embodies the academic rigour and forward thinking that has made Oxford a world leader in education.
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