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Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur? A Dose of Reality

BY TOM WALKER Published: November 1, 2011

In talking with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I can't tell you how many times I've heard one of them say, “I remember the day that I decided I was going to start my own company,' or ‘That was when I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.'”

They might have been 10 years old or 50, but entrepreneurs can tell you when that defining moment occurred.

That's why events like the Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur? workshop can have such an impact on innovation over time.

“What I hope for my students,” says Dr. Karli Peterson, associate professor in the School of Business at East Central University (ECU) in Ada, OK, “is that at some point they will suddenly look around and say, ‘ah ha, this is the time.' Without taking courses in entrepreneurship, that might not ever be on their list of possibilities.”

Dr. Peterson, who teaches four courses in entrepreneurship at ECU, brought 10 ECU students to Who Wants to Be.

“Most of our students are from the region around Ada. They may be first generation college graduates. Many have families and jobs and are fitting their education in with the rest of their lives,” she says. “We want to broaden their horizons to the point where they start looking around on their own.”

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DID YOU KNOW? According to research from Duke University, for the last 10 years or so, the average age of U.S.-born technology founders when they started their companies was 39.

Tom Walker is President and CEO of i2E, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based start-up companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact him at


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