Babson Entrepreneur Experience Lab

Elements of the Entrepreneur Experience


On the Inside, Looking Out

The experience of being an entrepreneur inside can be solitary. Many find themselves isolated, facing opposition or, depending on their entrepreneurial effort, becoming a polarizing force. It helps to find others who are living the same experience, those who share a similar level of passion and engagement around creating within organizations. Entrepreneurs inside find great value in learning from others facing similar situations, or “bouncing ideas around” with like-minded people that “get you.” But few options exist for finding, connecting with, and creating entrepreneur inside communities.


  1. How can we create EI learning communities outside of the organization structure?

  2. How can we create physical and virtual meeting spaces across disciplines and industries for EI to share best practice and garner support in a collaborative and trusted environment?

  3. How can we build purposeful tribes within organization with the sole purpose of supporting and enhancing entrepreneurial thinking and acting?

Searching For My Tribe

Searching For My Tribe


Scott talks about his network of people and making connections.


Hannah discusses bouncing ideas off of a friend with organizational knowledge.


Jess describes the various ways she stays involved in the community.


Danielle talks about finding like-minded people outside the university.

New venture entrepreneurs can easily fill their calendar with social events, head to co-working spaces or coffee shops, or stop in at innovation centers designed to foster connection among the entrepreneurial community. Not so for entrepreneurs inside. There is a scarcity of internal and external channels for them to connect with like-minded people. Industry norms of competition verses collaboration typically shun sharing of innovations across organizations. Internally, many find few who can relate to the entrepreneur inside experience or run headlong into “silos” that make it difficult to make or find connections. In the wake of these factors, many entrepreneurs look outside for connection. Rob, president of an bicycle design, engineering and manufacturing company, used to participate in group meetings, but found the “return on time investment” wasn’t high enough to continue. Today, he turns to individuals within his organization—“with mixed results”—and to a few close friends. Amy, a special projects manager for a public transit authority who is developing new transit routes and agency decision-making processes, turns to personal and professional friends outside of her organization. Robin, a senior financial advisor building her own business within a major investment firm, has been part of a group of women who began meeting 10 years ago. “It does take some time to build trust, so it’s not particularly useful as a flash in the pan, few session thing. It was valuable because the job itself is lonely and without an opportunity to ask for help in a safe environment. It is an effective and supportive vehicle.”

At their core, these communities are safe zones, places that create a sense of belonging, a source of renewed energy or simply a great inspirational hangout. Chris, a CEO of a custom shoe manufacturing company, feels he needs spiritual support most of the time, “someone to tell me that I already know the right thing to do... give me energy and a kick in the rump.” He reaches out to his heroes. “It makes me feel like they keep letting me buy them lunch not because they need a free lunch, but because I am actually doing things that they of super hero status might find interesting. Then they say something and I am over the moon and reminded why I seek them out.” Danielle (a university president) regularly meets with a local entrepreneur who started a brewery. “We have no business that we do together, but we talk about ideas. We talk about moving organizations, we talk about ways to strengthen Maine. How can we contribute to the economy and the ethos of the state and make it better?”