Expert visits Inverness in hunt for world’s top entrepreneurs

Bill Aulet with  Donna Chisholm HIE (left) and Eleanor Mitchell SE.
Bill Aulet with Donna Chisholm HIE (left) and Eleanor Mitchell SE.

One of the world’s leading experts on entrepreneurship was in Inverness yesterday to find “people with the spirit of a pirate” to take part in a new business education programme.

Bill Aulet, managing director at the Martin Trust Centre for MIT Entrepreneurship, which works with all five schools at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, was seeking suitable candidates for the Can Do Scale (CDS) 2015 scheme.

The aim of CDS is to help people set up and grow global businesses, and next month’s maiden event will be led by Mr Aulet and Noam Wasserman from Harvard Business School.

Aimed both at entrepreneurs with a new start-up idea as well as those with an existing business they want to take to a higher level, there are 70 fully-funded places worth £5,000 each available on the four-day course.

It will be held at Stirling Management Centre from August 4-7, but the deadline for applications is next Wednesday.July 8

Mr Aulet said Scotland was fertile ground for entrepreneurship, and there were opportunities to exploit the country’s creativity even further.

“Scotland has yet to realise its full potential,” he said, adding: “It is very good at coming up with good ideas but often fails to commercialise them.

“Original ideas are the most over-rated things and they cost money – it’s the execution that makes money.

“Once you have an idea the process becomes much more important, as does the team assembled to drive the execution. This is where Noam comes in with his analytical and rigorous work on what makes a good team.”

Mr Aulet said entrepreneurship was not in someone’s genes but a product of the environment, and he was on the lookout for “people who are willing to be different and think creatively”.

He added: “We’re looking for people with the spirit of a pirate and I would encourage anyone with a good idea, or a company with potential, to take advantage of this terrific opportunity.

“We can make people into better entrepreneurs by giving them best practice in terms of process as well as advice on how to be part of an effective team.”

The programme is jointly funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.

Donna Chisholm, head of business innovation and growth sectors, HIE, said: “The north and north-east of Scotland has a wealth of entrepreneurial talent and we would encourage people from the area, and all over Scotland across a range of sectors, to seize this fantastic opportunity.”

From January 2016, the scheme will expand into a year-long programme including additional multimedia learning, face-to-face and pitch training sessions, team formation activities and challenge events.