The concept of entrepreneurship is based around taking risks and exploring opportunities in order to develop a product or service, and to sell it. Entrepreneurs move the economy and the progress forward, unite various production factors or develop new technologies or approaches, drive demand and employment, and create wealth. Among key qualities of an entrepreneur there are: success and achievement, bearing risks, exploring opportunities, perseverance, facing uncertainties, independence, interaction with the environment, flexibility, self-confidence, planning, motivating and stress taking (Minniti & Zacharakis & Spinelli, 2007).
At the same time, all the above-mentioned qualities might also describe a manager. However, there are several key distinctions between managers and entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur starts own ventures and is determined to reach personal gratification, while a manager operates a venture devised and created by someone else, and pursues the goals set by the owners (Hisrich, 2004). Entrepreneurs take all the risks and rewards of the new initiative, while managers commonly do not bear risks involved in the enterprise and receive a fixed or predetermined salary for their effort.
Finally, entrepreneurs are innovating, and managers execute the strategies set by entrepreneurs (Hisrich, 2004).
In my opinion, all three persons ”“ Shai Agassi, Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey ”“ are entrepreneurs. Indeed, all of them have devised or created something new, all take risks and bear full responsibility for their projects. Shai Agassi is a founder of Better Place, the company working on electric cars. His project has become a great success in 2008, and Shai Agassi was named as one of 100 most influential global thinkers in 2010. Thus, he is clearly an entrepreneur.
Donald Trump is a very multifaceted person ”“ business magnate, television personality and author all in one. He is CEO and chairman of the Trump organization, and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts. He was still studying at college when he remodeled and pursued his first successful project ”“ apartment complex in Cincinnati. His business ventures experienced periods of financial success and losses, and Donald Trump bore all the risks as well as rewards. He managed to push ahead a large bunch of companies, projects and initiatives. Thus, he’s also an entrepreneur.
Finally, Oprah Winfrey is a well-known television host, actress, author and producer. She has created a unique talk show and pursued a number of other projects. In fact, she has revolutionized the genre of talk show. These features already point out that she is an entrepreneur, but the occupations of an actress and television host do not involve risk taking. But Oprah is a lot more than all the above: she publishes 2 magazines and established a new radio channel. Thus, without doubt, Oprah Winfrey is also an entrepreneur.
2. Analysis of Shai Agassi’s achievements
I have chosen Shai Agassi for further consideration since he is pursuing a very innovative idea which would possible lead the world into a better future, without excess pollution and constant gasoline problems. His company, Better Place, was founded in 2007 in California, with the purpose of the startup being to become a global manufacturer of electric vehicles and to accelerate the evolution of transportation to sustainable stage.
Before Better Place, Shai Agassi has been implementing his entrepreneurial qualities in software industry. In 1992, he founded a TopTier software company (which was finally sold to SAP AG for $400 million in 2001) and was the co-founder of a number of other companies (Kumar, 2008). In 2007, he was expected to become the CEO of SAP AG, but resigned because Henning Kagermann’s (former CEO of SAP AG) contract was extended by 2 years.
Shai Agassi’s intention was to set up a kind of ecosystem for electric vehicles, with smart charging and battery swapping possibilities, which would use solar and wind energy. The idea of charging stations for such devices implied that customers would be able to swap batteries, which is quicker and easier than filling in the fuel tank.
Core idea of the business model was to subsidize the cost of electric cars on a miles per month basis. The analogy was taken from the telecom industry where payments were taken on a per minute basis and the handset cost was subsidized; owners of electric cars are also offered subscription through miles per month. In 2008, the project was ranked world’s 5th largest startup, and several countries (Israel, Denmark, Japan, Australia and partly US) agreed to provide a loose regulatory environment for Better Future products, and to help the company to develop its infrastructure (Kumar, 2008).
Entrepreneurial actions of Shai Agassi exactly fit into Timmons model of entrepreneurship (Fig. 1).
Figure 1. Timmons model (Doke & Hatton & Smortfitt, 2007)
Indeed, Shai Agassi gathered a team of professionals (in each of his projects), and pushed the company ahead using his creativity and leadership qualities. He used his innovative thinking and research potential of the team to exploit opportunities and managed to get access to additional resources (even at the governmental level) using his leadership qualities and communication.
However, entrepreneurial actions of Shai Agassi with regard to Timmons model have one feature: creativity, leadership and communication are the qualities belonging initially to him, and not to the team. Thus, Shai Agassi has to develop a corporate culture and cultivate his unique approach in order to make the company scalable and competitive in case of global expansion. Shai Agassi is dealing with a market which is clearly expected to grow, and what he needs to continue success is to check his business model in commercial environment.
Doke, L. & Hatton, E. & Smortfitt, R. (2007). Entrepreneurship. Pearson.
Hisrich, R.D. (2004). Small business solutions: how to fix and prevent the thirteen biggest problems that derail business. McGraw-Hill Professional.
Kumar, S.A. (2008). Entrepreneurship Development. New Age International.
Minniti, M. & Zacharakis, A. & Spinelli, S. (2007). Entrepreneurship: The Engine of Growth. Greenwood Publishing Group.