Ed Roberts, MIT's Startup Prof

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By Sal Daher. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Ed Roberts started the scholarly study of startups. Learn from this brilliant academic pioneer and seasoned investor in Sohu.com and HubSpot about the keys to success in founding a tech company. Along the way you will be entertained and charmed by his most engaging narrative style.

He grew up in working-class Chelsea, Massachusetts. At Chelsea High, he received preparation that would allow him to explore the academic delights offered by MIT’s curriculum.

Four MIT degrees later he was on the faculty at MIT’s Sloan School of Management studying the impact of NASA’s research on the economy. From there it was a short hop to founding the study of tech startups. He also co-founded two successful companies, including Meditech. His course on entrepreneurship incubated Beijing's Sohu.com and Boston's HubSpot. Ed Roberts was an early investor in both.

The oft-cited result that companies founded by MIT alums generate revenues equivalent to the 10th largest economy in the world is one of the products of his scholarship. He also delves into his work on the optimal composition of founding teams.

Among the many topics covered in this bravura interview are:

  • Ed Roberts Bio
  • High School in Working-class Town of Chelsea Thoroughly Prepared Ed Roberts for Success at MIT
  • Sound Preparation from Chelsea High Allowed Ed Roberts to Explore the MIT Curriculum
  • Ed Roberts Meets Jay Forrester, Co-inventor of the Core Memory and Founder of System Dynamics
  • Research into Entrepreneurship Springs from NASA Project to Measure Impact of Its Technology
  • Ed Roberts Starts His First Company, Pugh-Roberts Associates
  • MIT Faculty Form Consulting Firms, MIT Grads Form Product Companies
  • Ed Roberts Founds Meditech
  • Engineers Debate the Need for a Marketing Person on the Meditech Team – Hired the Only Marketing Person They Knew
  • Sal Daher’s Pitch for Listeners to Give Back by Reviewing the Podcast on iTunes and Telling Others About It
  • The Most Significant Results from Ed Roberts’ Research
  • It’s Important Not to Keep Your Idea Secret but to Talk to Many People About It
  • Eric von Hippel & User Innovation
  • Ideas Are Overvalued – Person Who Has It Gets Too Much Credit – Pivots Are the Norm – Nobody Remembers All the Pivots – Example: Founders of HubSpot
  • Ed Roberts Invests in Founders, Not Ideas
  • Charles Zhang & the Founding of Sohu.com – Ed Roberts Was Surprised Charles Zhang Wanted to Return to China – Amazing Story!
  • “I’ve always focused on ground zero companies. I do not regard a ground zero company as a frightening and risky thing. I regard it as the place to be because that’s where the fun is, that’s where you can have impact and, to me, if you’ve passed my test, that you’re passionate, you’re dedicated, you’re trying to do something that seems worthwhile, you’re smart, you’re open. I’m going to be able to relate to you. Then, I don’t see it as a risky thing”.
  • Data on PhDs as Founders?
  • Why Are MIT Students & Alums So Likely to Invest in Startups?
  • 30% of MIT Alumni Go to Work for a Startup – Of Those 25% Go on to Found Their Own Company – Those Companies Outperform the Market
  • Second Companies Outperform First Companies; Third Outperform Second – Studies of Universities as Sources of Innovation – Chuck Easley Did Similar Study at Stanford

203 episodes