Geographical Diversity in BAEN502 2011

I’m going to post a few thoughts on the 4th installment of the Customer Development course BAEN 502 that I just finished teaching. The first is on geographical diversity.

The first thing that grabs my attention with BAEN 502 at UBC, is the geographical diversity. The Internationals always outnumber the Canadians. This year 61% were Internationals. Specifically 27 Internationals and 17 Canadians. Here is the Country breakdown.

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Austria 3
Canada 17
China 4
Finland 1
France 3
Germany 2
India 7
Italy 1
Mexico 3
Russia 1
Spain 1
Switzerland 1

Many people ask me if culture, or language, is an obstacle in this class. Surprisingly the answer is (mostly) no. The best presentations are almost always done by Internationals. This always “blows me away” because English is not their native language. They are doing the presentations in a 2nd ( or 3rd ) language. That said there are always 1, or 2, whose English is “challenged”.

The biggest obstacle for students in this class is always the same. It’s always about unlearning the maxim of “following the rules to success”. My bias is that start-ups are about discovering their own rules. If a startup plays by the rules of an incumbent, then the startup will lose.

If a student comes from a background of conformance and following the rules they have trouble. It is always interesting that this doesn’t follow the stereotypes of a culture. My guess is that when one becomes an International student one becomes an “Outlier” of their culture, definitely not the average.

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