This is the eighth post in our multi-part series “Global Insights on Chicago’s Tech Sphere” detailing the experiences of our Professional Fellows from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia as they discover more about Chicago’s thriving innovation community, and how it compares to their home countries.
Part 8: Entrepreneurship Education
By Marko Lavrencic, Slovenia
When comparing two systems which in fact could be referred to as two different mindsets — one of the USA, and the other from countries with socialist heritage in Central Europe and Western Balkans — the difference is quite obvious. Especially when we put the education system under scrutiny. The most obvious difference is in entrepreneurship education.
The approach in solving challenges in USA is very much hands on and practical. This is obvious if we compare the education system in USA and in the countries of ex-Yugoslavia.
To be more exact, the business schools in USA focus more on logical thinking and hands-on approach when teaching entrepreneurship. On the contrary the ex-Yugoslavia region still is advocating the mindset where you take more theoretical approach in solving entrepreneurial challenges — like reading about it — instead of testing it on the market, for example. At the end, this results in lower yield.
For the purpose of getting best results, the USA counterparts invest more in production equipment in incubators labs. This is used to create and test prototypes of the highest quality, as these are essential when testing them on the market, trying to get the product-market fit.
This approach creates a necessary condition where one can iterate a business model fast and get quality product on the market in less time. One of the other benefits of this approach is teaching students of production management, which is essential for survival in the first phase of startup life.
One can notice that in the countries with socialist heritage in Central Europe and Western Balkans, the trend is changing and that there are more and more incubators and accelerators that promote a hands-on approach. But the main issue lays in the mindset that prevails in the publicly-funded education system and the lack of finances for high-tech equipment that can support hands-on approach and getting the best feedback from the market.
Marko Lavrencic is Assistant Teacher, High School of Economics in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He completed his fellowship with Project Tech Teens.