Mike Hutcheson: A practical approach to business entrepreneurship at AUT

Periodic Table. AUT version (1)

Our Non-Executive Chairman, Mike Hutcheson, is currently in the process of developing an Innovation and Entrepreneurship paper for third year students at AUT University – based on his proprietary tool, the Periodic Table of Innovation.

Here, he gives some insight into the structure and purpose of the paper – and what he hopes will be the future of entrepreneurialism in New Zealand.

Ultimately, I want to make the Table open source, available to every Kiwi. I want to see entrepreneurialism encouraged. We aren’t going to grow our nation’s wealth by selling overpriced house to each other. I want to see profits generated by the productive economy, not property speculation – I firmly believe in Drucker’s dictum – ‘Business has two functions, Innovation and Marketing – everything else is a cost.’

 The paper I’m developing is called Practical Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ENTR770). It is a cross-faculty elective paper, worth 15 points, for Level 7 (Third Year) students, and will be run under the auspices of the Vice Chancellor’s Office, with the EFTs staying within the faculty in which they have enrolled.

Students will apply and be selected for the course on the basis of an idea or concept they want to develop into a business plan. The thinking underpinning the paper is that entrepreneurship can’t be learned theoretically. It needs to be undertaken in practice. There will be a couple of introductory and inspirational lectures/presentations, otherwise the students will undertake the course work in their own time.

To this end, we have produced video interviews with about 30 leading entrepreneurs (both commercial and social), professional advisers, designers, manufacturers, researchers and investors, who’ll explain and narrate their own stories and views.

 The students will be given access to the videos through the ENTR770 website (developed by the AUT team) and view them in their own time. The videos will be both informational and inspirational. I will personally work with them in whatever faculty they’re based to help with the structure of their plans.  

 The students will also be introduced to the Periodic Table of Innovation and given a deck of cards of the various elements in the deck. They will build their own deck using the cards appropriate to their idea in order to develop a business plan, which will be based on a standard template, but able to be presented in the best way a student can – i.e. video, dancing girls, TED talk style etc.

 Depending on their idea or concept, they will be paired with a mentor (a successful business person or social entrepreneur) who will help steer them in the right direction for preparation of a business plan. During the Easter break, the students will come together in a Boot Camp to craft and develop their business plans in a collaborative environment. Over the next month following that they will come together twice more to learn presentation skills and hone and polish their plans, finally presenting them Dragons Den style at the end of the semester.

The objective is to have the students not only earn credits towards their degree, but also leave the University with a practical and investable business plan – verified and supported by proven experts.