Creating the Future—From the Desk of Sharon Alvarez, PhD

July 30, 2014

Sharon AlvarezFor many, the word “entrepreneur” conjures up the idea of someone creating an entirely new company, building something from nothing or venturing into a new service or product that never before existed. While this is one way to define an entrepreneur, I believe that the true definition is someone who creates the future—through the creation of new businesses, but also by innovating new ways to add value to an existing organization. Entrepreneurship in the 21st century is all about taking action to create something novel.

Historically, many colleges and universities’ academic entrepreneurship programs have focused on training students to start new ventures and to write business plans. Yet the landscape of entrepreneurship is different today than it was 20 or even 10 years ago, and therefore, such programs have met limited success. The business schools of the future must teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to act and make decisions in the face of uncertainty. This is the primary goal of the Daniels College of Business as we develop an entrepreneurship program.

Last summer, I came to Daniels with a vision to build a cohesive entrepreneurship program that builds upon these principals and offers students a new way of thinking about entrepreneurship. In the past year, my colleague Stephen Miller, senior director of entrepreneurship, and I have worked to lay the foundation by creating an environment that fosters rich conversation about how to experiment, improve a concept, start a movement and consider a new viewpoint. My role is to oversee all curricular and research developments around entrepreneurship, while Miller leads the development of new partnerships with area organizations such as Galvanize and Denver Startup Week, in addition to DU programs such as the Elevator Pitch Competition and the Angel Capital Summit.

Our plan is to launch an MBA concentration in entrepreneurship and an undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship—open to all majors across the University—in January 2015. In all that we do, we want to arm students with an entrepreneurial mindset that gives them the skills to create the future, whether that future is societal, a new product or process, or matters within a business that could be improved by new ways of doing things.

As always, the Daniels College of Business welcomes the input and insight of our community. Please contact me if you have ideas or suggestions for partnerships that will help us achieve our goals as we develop this program. You can reach me at 303.871.3919 or

Dr. Sharon Alvarez is the Koch Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Daniels Department of Management. Previously, she was the academic director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.