Doctors to Entrepreneurs

Connecting Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Doctoral Dissertations

October 19th 2015 — I had the opportunity to watch my wife defend her doctoral dissertation to a committee of six Ph.D’s at the University of South Florida. These professors were there to judge whether or not her research was done with enough rigor while meeting high quality standards that validated her assumptions.

As I listened to the 30-minute presentation, I couldn’t help but default to my entrepreneurial understanding of pitching, demo days, and startup weekends. Here I was, viewing statistical evidence, and listening to emotionally compelling stories that defended in depth research.

So I thought to myself…this is a demo day for Ph.D’s but there are no VC’s or entrepreneurs in the room to capitalize on an opportunity that would use all this kick ass research to support an idea for a solution. Why not?

Protocol of a dissertation defense finishes with Q&A from the committee, which then opens up to audience members, students being first. Therefore, I waited my turn and asked my question…not to my wife but to the committee. “After bearing witness to this presentation, I’m just curious what happens next? What will be a solution to these specific problems?”

There wasn’t really an answer and that’s no fault of the committee. This is a systematic issue in which dissertations are defending research. They’re not meant to pitch startup ideas. But, what if there was a connection in order to utilize this powerful research and data that would lead to ideas for solutions. What if we connected the plethora of entrepreneurship programs to doctoral programs to launch companies and organizations that would address the problems.

I believe this connection should exist at every university where doctorate and entrepreneurship degrees are awarded. How cool would it be to leave college with degree and a company that launched because of the research and connections made with fellow students?