I am fortunate to have one of the best jobs in the world. Being a professor is a license to learn about virtually any topic, at any time, and for any reason. More importantly I get to share what I learn with others…and that’s pretty cool.
Tragically our ability to generate new knowledge far outpaces our ability to assimilate that knowledge, so it helps to focus a bit. For me, I work in the area of strategic entrepreneurship–the development, employment, and consequences of entrepreneurial strategies in existing firms. Sometimes it helps to think about what my area is not. I don’t spend a lot of time with startups (there are LOTS of great people doing work in this area). I also don’t spend a lot of time at the senior executive level of very large organizations (lots of great stuff there as well). Mostly I focus on what we call the business-level. This is where the business model (how my firm makes money) interacts with a product-market (where we sell it).
Of course, companies of all sizes have business-level strategy–from startups to conglomerates. But for startups, usually the hardest part is simply validating the value proposition, or as Paul Graham would say, ‘making something that doesn’t suck.’ Conversely top managers at very large firms are generally concerned with managing and coordinating the activities of multiple business models and product-markets. So my area is a sweet spot in the middle.
Most of my research focuses on small to medium sized businesses, or single business units of larger firms, in developing and implementing entrepreneurial strategies. What’s an entrepreneurial strategy? An entrepreneurial strategy is the combination of product or process innovation with a desire to capitalize on that innovation through new product introductions or changes to the business model. It’s not just coming up with the new (innovation), but capitalizing on the new by establishing product or cost-structure market leadership positions (proactiveness). Importantly, underlying innovativeness and proactiveness is a managerial willingness to commit resources to projects with uncertain outcomes (risk-taking).
One of the best parts of my job is working with doctoral students–the next generation of faculty in our field. As the PhD Program Director at the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, I handle recruiting, admissions, curriculum, mentorship, and program administration for our doctoral students. It’s a great gig!
I’ve had a winding journey to academia. I started out as a college drop-out in the mid-1990s, leaving CU Boulder as an undergrad to work on a variety of startups, mostly in the tech space. None of them hit it big–I’ve had my share of entrepreneurial failure–but the experience and knowledge was invaluable then and even more so today. I also spent some time in politics and government, which is a very strange way to make a living, before settling in on an academic career. I ended up with a BS from CU Denver, a MS from the University of Denver, and my PhD at Indiana University. Along the way I was fortunate to earn a commission with the U.S. Navy as a Supply Corps Officer–the business/logistics management arm of the Navy. Now, I’m proud to serve as a Logistics Readiness Officer with the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard.
I’m a die-hard Broncos fan in Chiefs’ country, love catching a baseball game on a warm summer day, enjoy camping and hiking in the great outdoors, and PT regularly because the Air Force tells me to. Most of all I enjoy being with my best friend–my wife–and our three precocious boys.