MIT Entrepreneurship

Common Entrepreneur Mental Blocks

  1. It’s too late.
  2. A big company will squash me.
  3. I don’t have the skills.


Three fundamental questions every Entrepreneur needs to answer:

  1. Are you solving a real problem?
  2. Can you solve it in a superior way?
  3. Can you build a lasting business doing it?


Different Types of Problems:
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In case of factual and formulaic problems, the role of facts is high but in case of random and indeterminate problems, the role of judgement is high, which creates entrepreneurial opportunities.

How do I develop better judgement?
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Hunch: a faint signal; a guess based on intuition


  1. Aspiration: You aspire to do something; to bring a change in the world
  2. Anticipation: You anticipate an opportunity
  3. Collaboration: You have a hunch that a certain collaboration will generate value
  4. Creation: You have a hunch that a creation will create new opportunities
  5. Fascination: You are fascinated by a certain phenomenon
  6. Exasperation: You have a certain exasperation

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If you start with an idea and a solution, you have a very narrow focus. But if you start with mission, problem, vision, intuition, you thinking about it in a very open ended way.

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1. Frameworks for teamwork

Teamwork, building teams, working together is uncomfortable. It is like that for everybody.

MIT Sloan Leadership Model

  1. Sense-making – making sense of the world; understanding the complexity; raising questions; wrestling with dilemmas.
  2. Visioning – as you make sense of the complexity, you develop a vision for achieving something in that environment of complexity.
  3. Inventing – It is inventing a process, a technology to bring the vision to reality.
  4. Relating – brining people together to drive that invention forward.


The 4-Roles Meetings Framework

  1. Initiating – Someone has to initiate
  2. Supporting – Someone has to support the initiation
  3. Opposing – Someone should be opposing so we can make better decisions
  4. Observing – Someone should be observing so you can make recommendations to make things better

2. A point of emphasis regarding hunches

A hunch is an open-ended starting point.
Once you get past 10,20, 100 ideas – that’s the long tail, and those are ideas that have not been farmed before.

3. Problem-solving 101

Opportunity Discovery Tools

  1. Decoupling
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    RedBull addresses Energy + Thirst. 5-hour energy decoupled energy and thirst, and focused only on energy. Breathable Energy took it to next level by creating energy capsules so the truck drivers can get the energy without consuming any liquid, which will make them stop to go to the bathroom.
  2. Encompassing
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    When you surround a solution with something else to make it more comprehensive. ProDoula certification taught Doulas business education so they can offer their services as a successful business. It encompassed some other skills that Doulas needed.
  3. Inverting
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    GM solved the problem of consumers not owning a car. Uber inverted the problem by solving a more fundamental problem, which is getting from point A to point B.


Key Elements of Problem Definition

  1. Problem Victim – who’s problem is it?
  2. Problem Factors – What factors drive the problem?
  3. Problem Outcomes – What are the outcomes of the problem?
  4. Problem Metrics – How are the problem effects measured?
  5. Problem Context – In what context for the problem victim does the problem occur?
  6. Problem Stakeholders – Who else is in the problem context?
  7. Problem Status Quo – Why a new solution is of the urgency?

Taxonomy of General Problem Outcomes. [3] in the list above.

  • Creates financial burden
  • Consumes time
  • Affects or threatens health
  • Heightens uncertainty
  • Creates risk
  • Presents barrier – barrier to performance, knowledge, opportunity, relationships
  • Creates emotional pain and suffering

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  • The first step toward developing user innovation is identifying a problem in your own life that needs a resolution.
  • All entrepreneurship initiatives are typically born out of some random user innovations here or there.
  • Innovators understand user needs better than producers – use these skills to develop creative and relevant user-centric innovations.
  • Approach user innovation with an open attitude – some might take shape, while others may not. Be bold and curious while researching user innovations, and don’t hesitate to question anything and everything.

User Innovators solve a wide range of problems. To find the right one for you to solve, do a cost-benefit analysis. And try make your problem fit your skillset. If that doesn’t work but you still need to solve a particular problem, learn a new skill or find a collaborator.

Peer-to-Peer diffusion happens when an innovation is shared without the exchange of money. But free isn’t always free. Adopters and Innovators both have costs. It’s up to you to make the diffusion worth it for both sides, by reducing costs and increasing benefits.

How would you diffuse your innovation peer-to-peer or via the market? Think through and answer the following questions:

  1. What makes your innovation a candidate for peer-to-peer diffusion?
  2. Who would be your “peers” in peer-to-peer diffusion? That is, who will be the adopters of your innovation? (They certainly don’t have to be your peers in the strict sense of the word.)
  3. Why would the “peers” adopt your innovation? What value does your innovation bring to them, and why is that value above their cost of adopting your innovation? Does the value of your innovation increase the more it is adopted by others?
  4. How and why would they, on their part, diffuse the innovation to others? What are their incentives for doing so?
  5. If you’re diffusing your innovation peer-to-peer (and for free), how do you get compensated for the resources and time that you’ve invested in developing and diffusing your innovation?

User Innovators have a lot of choices when it comes to diffusion. You can keep it for yourself, give it away, or sell it. If you choose to sell, you can license your innovation, or produce it yourself. If you choose to produce, you can serve your initial community of users, or adapt you innovation and expand your user community. However you choose to build your business, user innovators have advantage over large companies, if you use your time and resources wisely.

You have a sequence of overarching choices when it comes to diffusion:

  • Whether to diffuse your innovation or not;
  • If you choose to diffuse, you have a choice to diffuse your innovation via “Peer-to-Peer”, “Via the Market”, or both. Indeed, dual diffusion is possible. In fact, some innovations lend themselves quite well for dual diffusion. Take Google, for example. Using Google for search is free, but not free if you want to advertise;
  • Then you have a choice to license your innovation or to produce it yourself;
  • And if you choose to produce your innovation yourself, you have a choice as to the kind of company you wish to build.

Think about and provide answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you choose to diffuse your innovation or not? Why?
    For the purposes of this exercise, we actually ask you to assume that you are choosing to diffuse your innovation. Otherwise, the remainder of this exercise would be irrelevant for you.
  2. Do you plan to diffuse Peer-to-Peer, Via the Market, or both? What is your thinking for why you’re making your choice?
  3. If you plan to diffuse Peer-to-Peer, what is important for you to think about in order to increase the chances that your innovation is adopted?
  4. Do you wish to license your innovation or to produce it yourself? How do you think about this choice?
  5. Ultimately, whether your choice is to distribute via the market, or peer-to-peer, what kind of venture do you want to build and what is important for you to think about to make that dream a reality?