School of Economics and Management

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Strategic Management students advise high tech entrepreneurs

Start-ups are vital for our economy (Timmons & Spinelli, 2009). Unfortunately, about two-thirds of them fails (Stokes, Wilson & Mador, 2010). One of the main causes of failure is a flawed strategy. Although entrepreneurs are very passionate about their inventions and ideas, they often have limited business expertise. Moreover, because of resource constraints, they are not able to hire expensive consultants to overcome this knowledge gap.

On the other hand, our Strategic Management students are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills involving strategy. In addition, they are eager to put their expertise into practice and expand their professional experience before entering the job market.

In the course Strategic Consultancy, entrepreneurs and students are brought together. So in the past semester, TiSEM’s Master of Strategic Management students again advised high tech entrepreneurs on their strategic questions. This is the outcome of a multiyear collaboration with the HighTechXL program, which is organized at Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus. The entrepreneurs that have been selected for this program have developed great inventions that could revolutionize the industry. However, many strategic questions still need to be addressed. Our students help answer these questions by coming up with a clear and specific advice that is founded on solid strategic arguments and data.

An example of a start-up that our students advised is Manus. The company invented a high-end, electronic glove, which can be used in a Virtual Reality setting (Manus, 2017). However, the founders did not know where to launch the new product. More specially, the company felt that the gaming industry could be highly interesting, but did not know which segment would be the most suited to their product. The advice of our students pointed the company to the PC gaming segment. Another student team dealt with the kind of geographical market and proposed that the company should enter Japan and South Korea. Since the development of their first prototype, the company has evolved. Manus was able to attract a broader public, besides the gaming industry, as NASA and Google have shown an interest in their product (Smartglasses, n.d.) This year, Manus will launch the first version of their glove.

Manus is just one example of the increasing number of entrepreneurs that our students advised in the past few years (see the infographic below). Examples of strategic questions that they often had are: What distribution model should we adopt? Which partners should we ally with? What is the most attractive market segment to enter? Which country should we first target? What should be our business model? So far, more than 500 students have helped companies find the answers to these questions.

Strategic Consultancy piktochart

Our students learn how to advise companies in the Strategic Consultancy course. This is part of the Master of Strategic Management program, which is composed of a consulting and an entrepreneurship track. The course is taught by Aswin van Oijen, Koen van den Oever, Joyce Kox, and John Bell. It was developed four years ago, in close consultation with practice. In the delivery of the course, practice still plays a large role. Consultants from companies such as Accenture, BCG, and Philips have come in to provide skills training. Students then apply these skills by creating strategic advice for their clients.

Clients have not only been the entrepreneurs from the HighTechXL. We have added larger organizations such as the ANWB and the Van Deursen Group. For next year, we are thinking of adding the advice of other larger companies to a different course, labeled Corporate Entrepreneurship.

To conclude, in our course we build a solid bridge between theory and practice. Students learn vital skills in consulting and gain experience for their future careers. At the same time, entrepreneurs get access to the knowledge and insights of the students, which should help them avoid the failure of their start-up.

For more information about the Strategic Consultancy course, please see the short clip on www.powtoon.com/embed/eIo1XrOnQAH/.

Sources:

  • Manus (2017).  The pinnacle from VR Controllers. Retrieved from, https://manus-vr.com/
  • Timmons, J. A., & Spinelli, S. (2009). New venture creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st century. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
  • Smartglasses (n.d.). Smartglasses kopen. Retrieved from, www.smartglasseskopen.com/manus-vr/
  • Stokes, D., Wilson, N., & Mador, M. (2010). Entrepreneurship. Andover: South-Western/Cengage Learning.