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“Start‐a‐Business”: an experiment in education through entrepreneurship

Paul S. Vincett (School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)
Steve Farlow (School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 16 May 2008




There is wide consensus on the importance of experiential entrepreneurship education. The purpose of this article is to investigate whether two unconventional experiential courses, with the style and content that the authors would like to have experienced before becoming entrepreneurs, can be successfully grafted on to the more conventional offerings of a large university business school.


The authors create learning by allowing a small group of students with serious business ideas to actually be entrepreneurs (rather than pretending to be) as they evaluate, optimize, and start running their businesses within the university course structure. All distractions from these goals, such as formal business plans and academic exercises, are removed, and direct contact with outside stakeholders is strongly emphasized. Fellow‐students and the instructor provide constant feedback and ideas to adapt and improve the businesses.


The courses meet a variety of accepted experiential education criteria, receive highly positive student evaluations, and generate many real businesses.

Practical implications

The methodology provides a practical, scalable, and effective way to provide university education through entrepreneurship.


The approach described in the paper has many unusual aspects and works very well. It may be of interest to others attempting innovations in the teaching of entrepreneurship and of the enterprising mindset.



Vincett, P.S. and Farlow, S. (2008), "“Start‐a‐Business”: an experiment in education through entrepreneurship", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 274-288.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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