Entrepreneur Interview

Use proper naming protocol: LastName_ENTInterview.docx. Late submissions will result in a half point grade decrease for each day the assignment is submitted late.

This exercise allows you to explore an entrepreneur’s experiences, challenges and opportunities. You can interview someone leading a for-profit or nonprofit operation. They may be running a small, medium or large business, or an emerging fast-growth venture. It can be someone who has acted entrepreneurially in a small business, emerging fast-growth business or even a large corporation. Identify someone with a minimum of 10 years of work experience who has hands-on, entrepreneurial experience. Do not interview an undergraduate student, but you can interview a relative or friend. You might consider expanding your network by making a cold-call to an entrepreneur you would like to learn about. You will find that most entrepreneurs will be honored to be asked about their experiences and willing to talk with you.

Contact the entrepreneur as early as possible. Entrepreneurs’ schedules are often tight, and your biggest challenge will be to find free time to meet them. YOU SHOULD IDENTIFY AND GET AGREEMENT FROM THIS ENTREPRENEUR WITHIN A WEEK TO 10 DAYS OF THE ASSIGNMENT BEING POSTED (WEEK OF 11/9-11/13) SO THAT YOU CAN THEN DO THE INTERVIEW IN ADVANCE OF THE DEADLINE AND HAVE TIME TO WRITE A GOOD PAPER. We also recommend you have a backup entrepreneur lined up in case your first entrepreneur falls through. It is not acceptable to tell us a few days before the paper is due that you have not lined up an entrepreneur or that he or she postponed your interview. Extensions will not be granted due to last minute scheduling issues that could have been prevented with better planning.

The final paper should be uploaded to Canvas. It should be between 4-5 pages (no longer), 11-point font, and double-spaced. This paper will count towards 12.5% of your overall grade (the Final Exam/Paper is worth 25% in total, split between your OB paper and this one). The paper should cover the following:

Brief background on the entrepreneur and their business.
How did the entrepreneur determine this was a good opportunity for them?
How did the entrepreneur determine who their customers were and how big the market was BEFORE they launched the business?
Were the actual customers/market different from what the entrepreneur anticipated?
Your critique and key learning points: based on what you have learned so far in FME, what could they have done differently and how might that have helped? How did what you learned relate to what you have been studying and experiencing in class (overall and with respect to markets/customers and business models)?
Personal reflection: how did this interview inspire you (and/or in what way not)? What will you do next to build your entrepreneurial abilities? Can you see yourself as an entrepreneur at some point in your career?

The goal of this assignment is for you to analyze and explain what you learned from interviewing this entrepreneur, how it connects to what you have learned about entrepreneurship in class over the fall, and how it will impact your future career decisions. Make sure you include questions and discussion with the entrepreneur about topics we have covered in the second half of the semester—specifically what they experienced relative to their target market and business model.

Develop an initial interview protocol. Below are some sample questions that can help you develop this protocol. During the interview, be prepared to follow up further in areas that arise as you talk with the entrepreneur. Did the entrepreneur say something that surprised you or answered a question differently than you expected? Did something they said pique your interest? Ask additional questions to learn more about this. Your actual conversation should therefore go beyond your expected protocol. So, remember to listen to what they say and follow up their responses with questions that delve into more detail. You want to uncover surprises and depth of insights. Show that you learned something you did not know before, and reflect on how that impacts your thinking and your future.

Finally, be sure to include the following confirmation that you have abided by Babson’s Honor Code on your submission:

Honor Code: I pledge my honor that I have neither received nor provided unauthorized assistance during the completion of this work.



Sample Questions & Script

Start out thanking them for their time and explaining the purpose of the interview and what it’s for.

Opening Questions (start with questions that get them talking and comfortable)

Tell me a little about your business and how it got started.
Can you talk about how you became an entrepreneur?
What inspired you? Was any person(s) particularly influential? Were you motivated by any experiences, interests, beliefs, or just seeing a problem or opportunity?
Did you have any past work or educational experience that were helpful or influential when you started your business?
Target Market

Who would you say is your primary target market? What characteristics describes your typical customer? This might include demographics like age, gender, education, or income. It might also include geographic factors like location, urban/rural. Are there any behavioral characteristics or preference that describe them (such as: early adopters, socially active, frequent exercisers)?
How did your market evolve over time? Did you have different customers in the beginning versus now? Did you encounter any surprises, in terms of who your customer was/is?
Do you, or have you, surveyed or directly talked to your customers about your product/service? How did/do you learn about customers? Can you give me an example of something you changed/adapted based on customer feedback? How do you identify changing market needs?
What are you seeing now with COVID? How has your business been affected? What changes do you see with customers? What do you think will happen with customer behavior over the longer term (will it change when COVID is less a threat, or will there be some permanent changes)?
Business Model

Who are your closest competitors? What would you say is a key difference that leads customers to pick your solution over alternatives?
Do you have repeat customers? Is it critical for your particular business to work at maintaining customers? How do you reinforce the customer relationship over time?
How have your marketing and distribution practices changed since you started your business? Thinking about all the value chain activities that need to take place, how did you decide which are important to your business, and which do you outsource or rely on partners for?
Have you incurred changes in your business’ cost structure? In other words, have costs increased or decreased over time? Has COVID affected your costs or prices?

What is the greatest challenge that your company faced in the past (pre-COVID)? How did you handle/overcome that challenge?
How is COVID affecting your business? How are you adjusting?

What is the most important lesson learned from your experience?
What advice would you have for me, as a college student, to consider becoming an entrepreneur and building my entrepreneurial abilities?

Remember: do not submit a transcript that is a simple write-up of the interview or provide a rundown of details about the entrepreneur’s process and responsibilities. This assignment must reflect insight and analysis about the interview. It must include a reflection of what you have learned through the class content and discussions, and working on your business concepts.


Background on Entrepreneur and Business

Needs Work Fair Acceptable Good Outstanding

o Brief background on the entrepreneur.

o Brief description of his or her business or venture.

Interesting Interview Findings

Needs Work Fair Acceptable Good Outstanding

o What were your key findings? Why were they interesting?

o Where the findings surprising to you, or consistent with what you expected based on class discussions or your prior experience?

Key Learning Points and Personal Reflection

Needs Work Fair Acceptable Good Outstanding

o Discussion of how the entrepreneur applied (or did not apply) the key concepts you’ve learned in FME so far.

o Discussion of what the entrepreneur might have done differently if you were advising him or her.

o Personal reflection: how this interview inspired you (and/or in what way not).

o What you will do next to build your entrepreneurial abilities.

o Whether you see yourself as an entrepreneur at some point in your career.

Organization and Writing

Needs Work Fair Acceptable Good Outstanding

o Overall quality and organization.

o Free of spelling and/or grammatical errors.

o Worked within the page limit.

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