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Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business

Simon Barker
12/3/2010 03:47 PM EST

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pixies
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
pixies   12/3/2010 8:04:30 PM
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What about fund raising, which is the most important to your firm's survival? Most PhDs, myself included, are terrible fund raisers especially in the business world, self-promoting is not exactly compatible with scientific spirit I guess. :)

Evgeni
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
Evgeni   12/3/2010 9:34:22 PM
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I've to disagree with all the points raised in this article. Here is why. (1) the tasks are vastly different, and the required skillset to complete those tasks is different as well. As a new company CEO you need to negotiate a lease, health insurance for employees, find and convince new people to join the team,etc. (2) Well, the main difference in that risk is that in many cases you fund the company out of your own pocket. The cost and the consequences of failure is different as well. (3) By going "jack of all trades, master of none" route is a bad idea. The quality suffers. The development time is longer. The cost of a book-keeping mistake is unnecessary audit and possible penalties. (4) After doing all the things in #3, there is no time nor energy left for creativity (5) CEO is all about efficient execution, that is doing the work using others. Working solo on a PhD is quite different.

SimonAtEHSense
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
SimonAtEHSense   12/3/2010 10:54:10 PM
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Hi Pixies, Fund raising is an interesting one, I really enjoy presenting ideas and persuading people to my point of view so I quite enjoy pitching I rarely have to do it though because of the nature of out business. Transition this to the science world and I see it like this. Although there can only be one reason behind a particular scientific result the interpretation by humans can be wildly different, you only have to look at how people view climate change data for that. Arguing these cases and defending your work can arm you very well for presenting your business and defending your choices. In the same way as science thoigh you need to be open to new ideas as well. It is something you get better at the more you do. One last thing, fund raising is not the most important thing to a firm's survival - sales is :) Thanks for the input Simon

SimonAtEHSense
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
SimonAtEHSense   12/3/2010 11:14:42 PM
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Hi Evgeni, Thanks for you input, it's always nice to hear a different point of view. Let me comment a little on the points you raised. 1. These are all things you can learn how to do, and fall in to the "nuances of the topics" that I spoke of. The need to realise how to accomplish a task is still the same, break it down and execute. 2. It is true the consequence of a company failing is money lost. The PhD system in the UK means that my funding stops after 3 years and if I don't submit my thesis within a year of that I have to pay high fees and will likely be failed. If your research doesn't produce results you can literally waste 4 years, get in to big debt in that last year and not gain a qualification for that time. I see that as a big risk. 3. I agree that a jack of all trades is bad. However, that is why I talk of borrowing aspects from other areas, in my PhD I will still be an expert in high temperature energy harvesting and electrical systems but I have a suite of tools I use to be that expert. Doing you own books is very common, they are still passed to a chartered accountant before submission anyway so they are professionally vetted at the end. 4. I disagree with you here, you do number 3 so you can be better at 4. To be creative you borrow, adapt, re engineer and ultimately come up with a solution to a problem. As to there being no energy left, well that that's down to the individual. I love what I do and find I have "no energy" for very few aspects of it (working through tax is one I struggle to get excited on) 5. Very true, how you execute changes with the company. In a small team the is more doing and less delegating but either way I believe that aspects of project management cross over well and you adapt to the new situation. You've raised some interesting points. Cheers Simon

t.alex
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
t.alex   12/4/2010 7:36:21 AM
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Hi Simon, I believe the impressive company website is designed by you :-) ?

agk
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
agk   12/4/2010 7:38:47 AM
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Most of the PhD's work goes to libraries and becomes a book work and none makes use of it.Every new PhD scholar wants to go into a new area of research.So many of the past works are unused.If PhD scholars can work little more on their work and bring it as a usefull solution to the society they can very well become a successfull entrepreneur.

Patk0317
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
Patk0317   12/4/2010 2:41:12 PM
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Taking an engineering degree and then a PhD teaches one how to think solve problems and therefore qualifies you for all types of tasks unrelated to your specialty. Without doing a formal survey, the CEOs of many if not most hi tech companies have some kind of engineering or science degree and quite a few of the are PhDs - and there companies ideas are just an extension of their PhD work. Do you eventually need other people like a CFO, HR etc.? Yes, but not at the very beginning.

Luis Sanchez
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
Luis Sanchez   12/4/2010 10:24:55 PM
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Quite interesting to read the article. Is inspiring. And very interesting also to read comments from the readers. I see that the different point of views enrich the discussion. But most importantly... we ought to investigate how many Entrepenuers are PhD graduates? Actually... there are some school drop outs that have been great entrepenuers right? Well, among the famous ones they were studying the PhD grade. At the end... I think being a PhD sometimes works good for some and not so good for others in regards to becoming an entrepenuer since the personality has to do a lot on the final result. To be an entrepenuer one has to have the desire and passion for that and be willing to do some sacrifices. I think many PhD are of the calculating and not so daring type. opinions...?

SimonAtEHSense
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
SimonAtEHSense   12/5/2010 9:04:01 PM
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Hi t.alex, Thanks for the compliment! The website it indeed my creation - although I am currently making a new version (once you launch you find loads of things you want to change!). Cheers Simon

SimonAtEHSense
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re: Student Entrepreneur: Five reasons why PhDs are made for business
SimonAtEHSense   12/5/2010 9:07:16 PM
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Hi agk, You're so right - I listened to a talk from Proff Max Robinson who is very high up in Kromek (cadmium telluride sensors for 3D imaging) and he said that it's a shame that so much research is never put back in to society in some way - obviously some of it is and we feel the benefit of that but a lot isn't commercialised. Thanks for your input Simon

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