This December I finished my entrepreneurship class, which I have been teaching for 11 years at the IE Business School, and it was without a doubt the toughest one I’ve ever had to give. How am I supposed to inspire students to go out and get funding in this market if businesses like Apple and Dell, which generate cash – which have a lot of cash and profit – are seeing their shares hit rock bottom?
Dell’s situation is incredible. A business with more than 20 years of experience that has just earned $700 million this past quarter, with an invoice of $55 billion throughout the world, with no debt and, on the contrary, $10 billion in the bank, is somehow worth only $20 billion: $10 billion more than the cash it has on hand. Right now, the market is only betting against Michael Dell, whom I consider to be one of the best entrepreneurs in the world. Practically the same thing is happening to Apple: it has only $24 billion dollars in cash. If the markets don’t have faith in Steve Jobs or Michael Dell, how in the world are they going to have faith in a recent IE graduate? Right now it’s almost impossible to get anything financed, so teaching entrepreneurship is like giving ocean navigation classes… in Kansas.
Although it’s something that can be learned, that knowledge simply can’t be put to use in these conditions. But I did what I could: I tried to give them the best ideas, to tell them the anecdotes that could best inspire these future entrepreneurs. I tried to be positive, but without straying too far from reality. But it is hard, very hard, to teach entrepreneurship in the current conditions. Especially to students that dipped into their savings or went into debt in order to be able to pay for the Masters offered by IE and get started on something that is almost impossible to finance. Okay. Digg, Facebookand the Huffington Post have managed to obtain funds. Maybe it’s not impossible, but it’s much more difficult. At any rate, whoever manages to grow when there is such little water available…will become king of the desert.