Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship Development Program - FAQs

1. What is the Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP)?
EDP is the Entrepreneurship Development Program, a week long, intensive executive education course for ambitious entrepreneurs that takes place at MIT in Boston. MIT – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – is a world renowned engineering and technical innovation institute but it also has one of the best teaching schools for management, leadership and entrepreneurship in the world – the Sloan School of Management. EDP is one of several training courses for professionals run by the Sloan School of Management and it is focused on helping entrepreneurs learn how to successfully and rapidly grow a global business.  It is run once a year – in January every year – and is attended by around 120 entrepreneurs from over 30 countries so it’s a truly international learning experience. Back to top >

2. Why do Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE )and Scottish Enterprise (SE) sponsor companies to take part on EDP?
HIE and Scottish Enterprise are focused on developing Entrepreneurship as a key driver of economic growth in Scotland. We have many talented entrepreneurs in Scotland with huge potential and we provide a number of support programmes and opportunities to help them develop entrepreneurship skills in Sales, Marketing, New Product Development, Branding, Financing, Preparing for Investment, Developing Strategy and Culture, Effective Networking and in taking a Disciplined Approach to Business Growth. We were looking for something inspiring, high impact and high level to offer entrepreneurs who really want to challenge themselves, stretch their current thinking and ambition and make international connections. We wanted something in our programme of support that would allow these ambitious entrepreneurs to learn how to build a global business. And that’s exactly what EDP does. Back to top >

3. What is the background of HIE and SE’s relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)?
HIE has had a strategic partnership with MIT since 2005. We wanted to connect the Highlands and Islands with the best in the world to provide global opportunities for our companies and at we found it at MIT. MIT is one of the top educational institutes in the world – there are many just as good but none better. It has very strong links to industry and an open and collaborative working style. We initially were corporate sponsors of the MIT Media Lab to provide knowledge transfer opportunities, we then became members of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program to be able to plug into the wider departments, people and research at MIT and then began exploring opportunities to engage with the centres at MIT for Leadership, Management and Entrepreneurship. It soon became clear that the relationship we built up with the Sloan School of Management and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship was yielding huge benefit for both our staff members and the companies we work with.  Scottish Enterprise also began engaging with MIT in collaboration with HIE and we would bring experts over from MIT to Scotland to teach masterclasses in Entrepreneurship and we would take companies across to Boston from Scotland to take part in events and training courses onsite at MIT. Back to top >

4. How long have Scottish companies been going over to MIT for EDP?
HIE and Scottish Enterprise have been sponsoring Scottish businesses to take part on the EDP course since 2007.  We now have over 100 entrepreneurs in Scotland who have taken part on the course and are now back in Scotland rapidly growing their businesses.  The Entrepreneurship training MIT provides has had real resonance with and impact on Scottish businesses who connect very well with the high level of ambition, global outlook and drive for innovation.  The Scots have a natural talent for entrepreneurship and when this is combined with the fresh thinking and increased confidence they gain from MIT – it is a very powerful combination. We have seen entrepreneurs coming back from MIT energised, highly focused, and in some cases with their thinking transformed. It’s the spark many of our companies need to go from good to great. MIT is truly world class and it is allowing us to unlock potential in our entrepreneurs to be truly world class too. Back to top >

5. How does EDP fit into the wider Entrepreneurship Support Programme that HIE and SE offer Scottish businesses?
EDP fits in the wider programme of Entrepreneurship Support as the most high level programme we offer, requiring significant investment of both time and resources from the participating companies.
We offer a programme of two day Entrepreneurship Masterclasses here in Scotland, entrepreneurs networking events, coaching and mentoring and typically, once a business has participated in these programmes, they are well placed to then go on to do EDP. Back to top >

6. What type of business is EDP aimed at?
The EDP course isn’t for everyone. It is particularly relevant for entrepreneurs who:

  • have a significant growth opportunity coming up in their business
  • want to challenge themselves and stretch their thinking
  • want to develop themselves as leaders and global entrepreneurs
  • want to learn how to put a framework in place to rapidly scale a new product, service or business model.

Though EDP is designed to teach through applying the learning to a new business idea going through the growth process – everything learned is applicable to both early stage and existing businesses. From ALL sectors. The concepts may need to be adjusted slightly to fit certain sectors, but the principles of Entrepreneurship and Business Growth absolutely apply to everyone. In a nutshell the course is aimed at ambitious entrepreneurs. You will come away a better skilled and more effective individual and whether you apply the learning to your immediate business or to ventures in the future, what you learn will be of benefit. Back to top >

7. How can businesses apply for a place on EDP?
HIE and SE offer sponsored places on EDP on a competitive basis. Typically 13 places are available per year for Scottish companies. Along with a recommendation from a business’s account manager, the company would need to submit a written application outlining their personal development and business growth goals, how they feel attending EDP would help them and what makes them a good fit for this specific type of high pressure, intensive learning experience. Written applications are then shortlisted to interview and selection is made based on the level of ambition, growth potential, timing of participation in terms of growth opportunity and personality fit for the programme.  We are looking for entrepreneurs who want to go from good to great. Who want to learn from the best and be the best. Back to top >

8. What is the time line for the applying to EDP?
The competition for applications typically opens early August each year and closes the end of September. Shortlisting happens in early October, interviews in late October and the cohort is selected in November. There will be a Pre-EDP Briefing Event in early December which is essential for all those selected to attend and then the EDP course itself takes place during the last week of January. Back to top >

9. How much time does a business need to give to take part in the programme?
The business needs to be prepared to take a 10 full days out of the business for the visit to MIT.
Before this, time is required for reading the preparation materials and articles - of which there are many – in advance of the course. On return from EDP it expected that the entrepreneurs will continue to meet for ongoing networking, peer support, helping each other ensure what was learned is applied to their business and that any challenges can be tackled with the support, if needed from the wider Scottish EDP Alumni group. Previous participants are always excellent ambassadors for the programme as they are so keen to encourage others to go on the course if possible and have a similar experience. They will often talk to other entrepreneurs, both informally and formally at events to share some of the key things they learned that have helped them transform their businesses. Back to top >

10. Is EDP just for CEOs?
EDP is not just for CEOs, it is great for any manager or director with responsibility for shaping company strategy and growth who wants to develop themselves as a leader and grow their skill set. However it is important that EDP participants have a degree of influence and decision making power within their company so that they are in a position to apply what they learn for the benefit of the company on return. Back to top >

11. Why would EDP be of interest to me?
If you are looking for challenge or validation of your business model, would like to learn new strategies, tools and approaches, would like to increase your network both in Scotland and internationally, have fun and make some great new friends, then EDP is right up your street. If you would enjoy spending time at one of the most exciting, high energy learning environments in the world and want learn from some of the best academics and practitioners in the world, then EDP is for you. It is intensive, fast paced and potentially a little overwhelming but we work hard with participants to prepare them as well as possible to hit the ground running at EDP and the Scots always rise to the challenge. Back to top >

12. What are some of the more surprising things that are learnt during the MIT experience?
It’s not really surprising, but often people surprise themselves by finding out that they are just as good as – if not better than – the hundred or so other international entrepreneurs there. Whilst it can be intimidating at first and the Scots aren’t known for putting themselves out there and shouting about how good they are like some others do, we always find the Scots quietly competent, innovative and capable and they tend to rise to the top by the end of the week.  Scottish entrepreneurs are as good as any others in the world and it’s great to see them realise this themselves as their confidence grows throughout the week. Back to top >

13. Outwith the teaching on the course, what are the key benefits for attending EDP?
Whilst the cutting edge learning at EDP is hugely valuable - I actually think that one of the real key benefits of attending is the close knit bonds that are formed between the Scottish entrepreneurs during the visit. HIE and SE work hard to give the Scottish entrepreneurs the time and opportunity to get to know each other, bond as a group and form a strong team spirit going into the programme and this has been seen to have a lasting effect. The friendships made and shared experience in such a pressure cooker environment results in an extremely strong and supportive network back here in Scotland. The groups from each year form very close bonds and great friendships and then when they meet with other Scottish EDP Alumni entrepreneurs who attended EDP in other years – there is an immediate bond and camaraderie there too. The network effect and energy created is very powerful. Back to top >

14. What challenges can EDP help a business overcome?
The learning from EDP has helped in situations such as developing better products, fixing better pricing strategies, carrying out primary market research and selecting niche, target, beachhead markets, in restructuring the business strategy, setting an ambitious vision, and developing a culture within the organisation that is focused on success. EDP has helped people make difficult decisions – sometimes in restructuring the business, moving out of certain markets or making tough decisions over staffing that they have been wrestling with for a while. Even the act of physically getting on a plane and going to another country really helps people step out of the day to day running of the business and work on the business rather than in it. It helps people take a long hard look at what they are doing, be reminded of why they are doing it and sharpening up the focus and vision of where they want to take the company in future. Back to top >

15. What kind of impact has the programme had on HIE and SE account managed businesses?
EDP has seen businesses benefit from the following:

  • Increased energy and drive to succeed
  • Increased confidence from finding out that either they were on the right track and making the right decisions for the business anyway, or that they were perhaps heading in the wrong direction but now have the confidence to make tough decisions, stop doing something, pivot, refocus and get on track to where they should be.

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16. What additional benefits can be expected from attending?

  • Access to an international support network
  • New contacts who could be friends, advisors, mentors, new customers, partners or routes into new markets
  • Taking away very practical tools and strategies to revisit pricing, market selection and de-selection
  • Learning how to understand who their customer is, what their business core is, how to create and capture value
  •  Learning how to pitch, how to communicate their value proposition and how to make things happen with limited resources.

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17. What are some of the typical positive effects that EDP participants bring back into their businesses?
People bring back energy, enthusiasm, a framework and toolkit of practical tools and approaches with the 24 Step Approach. They bring back a list of books, videos, articles and links to share with their teams. They tend to bring back an increased focus for social media presence and a burning need for a Twitter account. They also bring back new ideas – everything from new business, product or service ideas to new ideas on setting up their office space to allow more creative collaboration, they usually want to paint the walls with IdeasPaint – we’ve seen that happen quite a lot. Back to top >

18. What is the 'Disciplined Entrepreneurship approac?
The 'Disciplined Entrepreneurship Approach' or “'4 Steps of Disciplined Entrepreneurship' is a framework developed by Bill Aulet at MIT who leads the EDP course. It is essentially a step by step process for ensuring the building blocks are in place that structure your business for success and which will allow you to rapidly scale up a profitable business. Bill has taken many classic aspects of entrepreneurship, added in his own learning and experience and come up with an intuitive, easily accessible, easy to apply approach. None of it is rocket science or anything brand new – many of the steps are what people have been doing for years, but it’s presented in such a fresh and logical way that allows people to see where there may be aspects of their business that they have spot on, but other aspects that they have not considered that are critical for success. Back to top >

19. What are the 24 Steps?
EDP will take businesses through six key themes:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What can you do for your customer?
  • How does your customer acquire your product?
  • How do you make money off your product?
  • How do you design and build your product?
  • How do you scale your business?

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20. Previous participants have indicated that simply validating their business plans or methods has been hugely beneficial – why is this?
Many companies have grown organically to date in an ad hoc way, taking advantage of opportunities as they come along and EDP really provides a framework for going back to basics – health checking every aspect of your business and taking a disciplined approach to structuring the business for growth in future. Sometimes entrepreneurs have come back and realised that what they are doing in their business isn’t the right thing, isn’t what they want to be doing or that the current business they are in isn’t where they want to be. Helping people see they need to stop doing something or make some major changes is as much of a positive impact as anything else. Alternately it validates that they knew what to do all along and that they should be braver in taking decisions that they know are right. Back to top >

21. Who will be running the course?
The MIT Speaker quality is second to none. The MIT faculty consists of a range of expert academics, ex-serial entrepreneurs, current entrepreneurs, investors, legends of entrepreneurship and international thought leaders. They also have access to some amazing people in the wider MIT ecosystem – students, entrepreneurs, engineers involved in innovative start ups, the teams that run Techstars and Y-Combinator and other incubators and accelerators. They bring in investors as judges and mentors who are actively looking for exciting entrepreneurs to invest in. They arrange company visits as part of EDP to some amazing, well known companies that are based near the MIT campus and they bring in speakers from Hubspot, Lark, Kayak and some of the hottest companies around. You will meet a lot of amazing people in one week. Back to top >

22. What is the 'Boston buzz'?
The “Boston Buzz” is a term that you will hear repeatedly from entrepreneurs that have been over to MIT and experienced the unique innovative, intellectual, creative and energetic pressure pot that is MIT.
This environment really brings out the best in people. It stretches them to dream of and achieve things that they never thought possible and to realise that anything is possible if you put the right team, focus and energy behind it. It creates an almost tangible buzz. The ecosystem at MIT with the high levels of innovation, access to finance and sheer number of smart people in the one place at the one time is unique to them and very difficult to recreate. However, once you have experienced the “Boston buzz” you become infected by that energy and ambition. It will always be in you. By bringing people like that together back in Scotland - through EDP networking events, having the Scottish EDP Alumni join the Entrepreneurship Masterclasses and by mixing them with similarly ambitious entrepreneurs, Saltire Fellows and others - we see some of this buzz becoming embedded in Scotland. Back to top >

23. Is this a formal qualification?
Yes. You will receive a leather bound certificate from the MIT Sloan Executive Education Department on completion of the EDP course. The course is on the MIT Sloan “Management and Leadership” track and counts towards credits you may wish to build on to gain a wider qualification from the MIT Sloan School of Management. More importantly however, it means you become part of a global community of MIT EDP Alumni and part of the closer knit Scottish MIT EDP Alumni network who continue to connect, support, encourage and inspire each other back here in Scotland. Back to top >

If you have further questions about EDP, please contact Stephanie Anderson, Highlands and Islands Enterprise  on 01463 244477 or email stephanie.anderson@hient.co.uk

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