Start-Up School: Education For The Digital Age?

Traditionally, schools have been associated with teaching at the primary level, as a way to share knowledge in an organised and systematic way. Formal schools existed in ancient Greece, Rome, India and China. Similarly, Islam developed a strong culture of education focussed on the importance of sharing knowledge.

In recent years, a new type of school has developed in the form of a start-up school for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to see if they have what it takes to start and run a business.

The start-up school isn’t based on getting a formal degree or a professional or technical qualification but on specialised business training and interaction with successful entrepreneurs.

The start-up school provides specific training in a work-based environment that encourages creativity and technical innovation and provides access to experienced business mentors.

It introduces students to potential investors, business angels and venture capitalists and matches participants with successful industry leaders as tutors and advisers.

The development of start-up schools is partly fuelled by the stories of successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of university (or didn’t go to university) because they couldn’t wait to finish their degree to start their business.

The traditional choices that face entrepreneurs of working through years of college or dropping out to start a business are now complemented with the additional choice of going to start-up school.

The idea is to provide a shortcut to business success and it is catching on, even in the hallowed halls of traditional business schools and universities, as they develop their own start-up schools; not least in an effort to attract students with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Critics of start-up schools highlight the value and rounded experience of a traditional education over the provision of narrow-based business specific training and the fact that it is unrealistic to expect to be able to ‘manufacture’ entrepreneurs.

Supporters of start-up schools argue that traditional colleges and universities don’t provide the skills, experiences or contacts aspiring entrepreneurs need, as the education sector lags behind what is happening in the start-up scene.

In the middle ground there is a view that start-up schools are filling a gap, as they provide an environment and experiences valued by those interested in starting businesses.

Further evidence of their usefulness is provided by the fact that many leading universities are embracing the concept and investing in their own versions of start-up schools.

SO, traditional schools have a long history and start-up schools a short history but both have the same vision of sharing and spreading knowledge.

What do you think? Would you go to start-up school? Get in touch, we would love to hear your views contact Nick on 028 8224 9494 or via Twitter @nick_oec.