Fortune Small Business
Top professors
These teachers of entrepreneurship are regarded as the tops in the field by colleagues, students and entrepreneurs.
Karl Baehr, Ph.D. Executive-in-Residence and Director of Entrepreneurial Studies Emerson College
Two years ago, Baehr designed the Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship, or E3, an immersion learning process focused on the academic, applied and artistic aspects of entrepreneurship. Since then, he has helped his students create nearly 40 startups. "It's not just about producing a business plan, and making a presentation," he says. "It's about learning and doing everything involved in the process of evolving a business venture."
David BenDaniel, Ph.D. Don and Margi Berens Professor of Entrepreneurship Cornell University
BenDaniel, who had a previous career as a theoretical physicist, is the longest-serving professor in the Entrepreneurship@Cornell program (, which he helped design. He also created the Big Red Venture Fund in 2000, an alumni-financed, student-managed venture capital fund that is considered a model by business schools nationwide. BenDaniel's current interests are mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures - particularly those involving smaller companies.
William Bygrave, M.B.A, D.B.A., Ph.D. Frederic C. Hamilton Professor for Free Enterprise Babson College
Bygrave co-founded the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (, a research program that annually assesses the national level of entrepreneurship (see FSB, June, 2007), and is co-author of the best-selling "Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship." Bygrave, a former entrepreneur who started a high-tech company, co-founded a pharmaceutical database, and served on the investment committee of a venture capital fund, landed at Babson in 1985. 40 percent of the school's entrepreneurship students have gone on to start at least one full-time business after graduating. They include Matt Coffin, founder of, and Mario Ricciardelli of
Michael S. Camp, Ph.D. Assistant Professor and Academic Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship Ohio State University
Camp spent six years managing a Kauffman Foundation ( entrepreneurship, research and education program before coming to Ohio State. He founded the school's Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Institute (TEC Institute), an interdisciplinary, graduate-level specialization that teaches students how to assess the commercial potential of new technologies, working mainly with central Ohio businesses. Camp says he has been overwhelmed by interest from physics, engineering, medical, agricultural, and law students. "The program is at the forefront of developing viable commercialization strategies for new ventures," he says.
Sanford Ehrlich, Ph.D. Qualcomm Executive Director of Entrepreneurship for the Entrepreneurial Management Center San Diego State University
I view my role as a facilitator of productive 'collisions' between students and experienced entrepreneurs, service providers and investors, says Ehrlich. At San Diego, one place where such collisions are expected is Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology, a collaborative partnership that includes SDSU and the military's SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare) Systems Center. The consortium assists entrepreneurs and scientists who are commercializing technology for defense and homeland security applications.
Charles W. Hofer, D.B.A. Regents Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship Kennesaw State University
Known for his dedication to students and especially his work with those in business plan competitions, Hofer is revered for his skills in prepping students for these contests with a combination of brilliant strategic thinking and drill sergeant-style practice sessions. The professor has earned numerous honors, including the Coleman Entrepreneurship Mentor Award and The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship's Distinguished Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year Award.
Donald F. Kuratko, D.B.A. Jack M. Gill Chair of Entrepreneurship, Executive Director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Indiana University
A true trailblazer, Kuratko has been teaching entrepreneurship for 28 years, and has written more than 20 books on the topic. Before moving to Bloomington in 2004, Kuratko founded the nationally acclaimed Midwest Entrepreneurial Education Center at Ball State University, in Muncie, Ind. Kuratko says it's crucial for business students to gain exposure to students working in other fields. So Indiana University's high tech incubator has ties to the law school and school of music, and will open branches in the school of informatics and the sciences.
Murray Low, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Director of the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship Columbia University
Low, a former entrepreneur and the founder of Columbia's program, is popular because he's willing to roll up his sleeves to help students write business plans, launch companies and raise capital. His interests include companies that are small by design, reflecting the entrepreneur's lifestyle choice. "Entrepreneurship is very personal," he says. "It's about operating according to your own rules." Low, who has started two construction firms and an accounting software company, urges students to launch businesses early in their careers. "You learn by doing," he says.
Ian C. "Mac" MacMillan, D.B.A. The Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center University of Pennsylvania
MacMillan directs the operations of the "war room," a work-study program he created that puts teams of aspiring entrepreneurs to work tackling business research questions across wide-ranging industries. One project focused on determining what characteristics made some airlines outperform peers in their difficult industry. To honor their professor, in 2001 a group of students created the Ian C. MacMillan Award for Excellence in Research and Leadership, presented annually to an outstanding research assistant.
Angelo Mastrangelo, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor Binghamton University
Mastrangelo is a student favorite because his lessons include his own real-life examples. In 1980, he bought Adirondack Beverage Company, and built it into a $60 million business. He also teaches a class that features a business plan competition with a $2,500 prize. Now in its seventh year, the contest has generated six companies that are still operating. Mastrangelo's influence on students continues after graduation. "They keep me in the loop forever, sending e-mails from around the world telling me about their businesses - and asking for advice, which I love to give," he says.
Michael H. Morris, Ph.D. Chris J. Witting Chair in Entrepreneurship and Executive Director of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises Syracuse University
Morris's teaching philosophy is straightforward - students "live, eat and breathe" entrepreneurship, he says. Every one of his seven courses has an experiential component, putting students to work with high-growth, entrepreneurial, inner city companies, women-owned businesses, and even township-based entrepreneurs in South Africa. His job is to help them tap into their "innate entrepreneurial potential" and give them the confidence and tools to capitalize on that potential. Morris received the top MBA faculty award at Syracuse in 2004, 2006, and 2007, and the 2003 Oberwager Prize for impacting students beyond the classroom.
Thomas O'Malia, E.M.B.A. Kinko's Chair in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies University of Southern California
Before O'Malia's students get to put together a business plan, they first must put their ideas through his feasibility model, which assesses strategic elements such as markets and competition to eliminate ideas that are not yet business plan-worthy. That stops about 80 percent of ideas. Among O'Malia's former students are Chris DeWolfe of and Marc Benioff of O'Malia says he finds it rewarding to teach entrepreneurship because it empowers student to control their own destinies. "They all leave as the president of You, Inc.," he says.
Don Piper, M.S. Mentor-in-Residence University of Arizona
As mentor-in-residence, Piper works one-on-one with student business planning teams. While the goal of teaching isn't necessarily to push students to launch a business after graduation, he says, over the past two years 19 out of the 40 teams he has mentored have done so. Piper is now focused on expanding the university's program to include more social and sustainable entrepreneurship. This summer, he created "Entrepreneurial Experience and Environments," a course that helps students pursue their passions with ventures that benefit their communities and society.
Gerhard Plaschka, Ph.D. Associate Professor DePaul University
Plaschka enlivens the material with real cases, executive guest speakers and computer simulations in addition to lectures and articles. He likes to use different teaching techniques to keep students motivated. Students work in teams to define and solve business problems and Plaschka encourages competitiveness among the groups in the classroom, which he regards as a rehearsal for the real world. He is especially interested in making sure students know how to manage challenges at different stages in the life cycle of a new venture. One of his courses - Managing Fast Growing Firms - requires students to identify a growing company, then interview and analyze the entrepreneur or team behind it, looking at how challenges are handled at every phase of growth.
Michael J. Roberts, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer and Executive Director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship Harvard University
Since many HBS graduates will start entrepreneurial ventures sometime in their careers, Roberts says he feels no pressure to encourage students to "take the first train that comes along." Really great ideas are rare, he says. "It's easy to fall in love with your first." Roberts teaches students to be as objective as possible when assessing their ideas, because they will have to convince so many people that it's a winner. He keeps things interesting by inviting the subjects of case studies to come in to speak to his class. "It helps students see that there's no such thing as a typical entrepreneur," he says.
Saras D. Sarasvathy, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Business Administration University of Virginia
A cognitive scientist, Sarasvathy is a leading scholar on what approaches produce high-performance entrepreneurship. She developed a framework called "effectuation," which suggests that building a business is more about using what you already know than finding the perfect market niche or opportunity. "Normally people consider the effect they want, and how to cause it," says Sarasvathy. "That's causal thinking, but effectuation is just the opposite - you use who you are, whom and what you know, and your interests to come up with a new way to create value," she says.
Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D. Alan Lewis Chair in Global Management, and Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship and Global Management Babson College
Spinelli co-founded Jiffy Lube International Inc. two years after he graduated from college, and achieved rapid growth through franchising. He later founded American Oil Change Corp. After 13 years as an entrepreneur Spinelli sold American Oil and embarked on an academic career, creating Babson's MBA course in franchising. Though no longer on the front lines, Spinelli remains fascinated by his subject, and says, "Entrepreneurship is about finding opportunity in the midst of what others consider chaos."
Burt Swersey, B.S. Lecturer Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Swersey, who holds 14 patents, created the Inventor's Studio course, which offers students hands-on experience with the process of developing a commercially viable product, including learning how to write patent applications and license the patent. While creativity matters to Swersey, he also believes in a deliberative, problem solving approach. "Entrepreneurship isn't brainstorming," he says. "It's a structured attempt to understand a field, see what's been done before and find missed opportunities." This year, Swersey received the Olympus Lifetime of Educational Innovation Award for fostering and demonstrating innovative thinking in higher education.
From the September 2007 Issue of FSB magazine
How we made our picks
Nearly 3,000 schools now boast classes in entrepreneurship, up tenfold since the mid-1980s, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City nonprofit that tracks the topic. With so many choices, finding the right place for you (or for your aspiring child) can be confusing... (more)