Why Teach Startup Studio @ Cornell Tech

21st January, 2020 No Comments Blog

Last fall I was offered the opportunity to teach Startup Studio. I couldn’t say no. My history with Cornell and Cornell Tech, the potential to help build on an already-great program, the chance to participate in the development of startup education, and the Studio team all drew me to the role.

I first heard about Cornell Tech from Dan Huttenlocher when the school was just an idea without a name. A year or so thereafter, my first visit to Cornell Tech was to its initial, temporary space in the Google (Port Authority) building. There were just a few team members rattling around what felt like a big space (though it was probably only 5,000 square feet). That’s when Dan introduced me to Greg Pass, the school’s first “Chief Entrepreneurial Officer.” We soon realized we had met before — in Spacecraft Design class as Cornell undergrads. Over the intervening seven years, I volunteered my time to help as Cornell Tech grew, and in the process had a lot of fun. From the outset, the initial team members at Cornell Tech brought to their work the spirit of founders, an experimental, free-wheeling nature that I hope to carry forward in Startup Studio.

The first Startup Studio comprised less than ten students. David Tisch took it over and made it a jewel of Cornell Tech and an engine for new venture creation and entrepreneurial energy for New York City. I was fortunate to sit in on and help with the course over the years.

When I attended college and grad school, there was a legitimate debate about whether entrepreneurship could be taught at all. Today, there are many effective classes in startup formation. Cornell in Ithaca, Columbia, NYU, Stanford and any number of other schools and programs in NYC and beyond offer rigorous, practical instruction in lean startup principles, design thinking, and other building blocks of new product and business creation, most of which have been developed just in the last ten or fifteen years. I am excited to join in the development of this discipline within Cornell Tech and hope to join conversations on the topic with professionals from other institutions as well. I think Startup Studio at Cornell Tech is unique in some ways — its truly interdisciplinary academic setting, applied focus, and scale (nearly 200 students this spring) present a special challenge and opportunity.

Finally, I would not have signed up to teach if not for the team I get to work with. Josh Hartmann, Greg’s successor in running Studio, and his team, including Lendra Elberger and Tyler Rhorick, embody the spirit that drew me to Cornell Tech to start. I have also invited some amazing guest lecturers, from whom I am already learning myself.

In short, I am happy to have been a part of the Cornell Tech journey up to now, and am excited for the opportunity to guide Startup Studio into its next phase with some fantastic people.

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