The Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate (SI&E) program, launched in 2012, is celebrating its 100th graduate, serial entrepreneur Francisco Santolo from Dubai.
A unique collaboration between world-renowned faculty from Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford School of Engineering, the SI&E program exposes its students to the skills, mindset, and culture that have fueled the most innovative organizations in the world. Blending industry insights and proven research models, this flexible, online program teaches professionals how to think like an entrepreneur and innovate like the most successful leaders from around the world. And, because the program is both self-paced and online, professionals find they can apply new skills and insights on the job, making an immediate impact on their organizations and careers.
That was the case with SI&E’s 100th graduate. Santolo already had an MBA and previous startup experience, yet the program was fundamental for him to reconnect with entrepreneurship in a professional way, he said. It gave him “powerful tools and concepts to rethink every venture, plus a boost of motivation.” He chose SI&E because he wanted to explore new possibilities and grow his career. As he moved through the courses, he decided to apply his learnings by helping other entrepreneurs for free. He was also invited to teach entrepreneurship together with Domingo Sanna at Universidad del CEMA, where he received his MBA in 2012. “It was amazing,” said Santolo, “in the process I became co-owner of a company, Les Croquants, and cofounded two others: deartota and Eneldo. They are now profitable businesses facing aggressive expansion, and while I continue my corporative career I am an active member of their boards.”
Among the eight courses Santolo took to earn the SI&E certificate, the one he cites as most valuable is Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset, taught by Tom Byers, Entrepreneurship Professor in Stanford’s School of Engineering. The course focused on the key ingredients that drive success in entrepreneurial companies. Santolo refers to his experience in the course as a “transforming journey.” It provided him with a clear understanding of business models and concepts that he could apply to a broad range of projects. Today, not only is Santolo applying the knowledge he gained from the course in his own ventures, but also he is sharing these tools and resources with fellow entrepreneurs. Taking part in the certificate program also inspired and motivated Santolo to cofound several new companies.
Similarly, the program’s first graduate, French product manager Franck Langevin, introduced design thinking to colleagues through a novel event, “Make It Day,” at his 100-employee Paris-based software company, Mappy, akin to Google Maps. Langevin, like other SI&E participants, launched his own company while taking SI&E courses.
While the certificate can be earned by taking 8 out of 12 self-paced online classes without having to interact with other participants, many connect through discussion boards and social media. Craig Damlo, who completed the certificate earlier this year said, “This certificate program has been more than just courseware. I have met fellow students both in person and online from across the globe. These relationships and the camaraderie have been professionally and personally satisfying.”
Austin Nichols came to SI&E after the small company he was working for was acquired. He needed to understand concepts and have tools that could be used in startups and large companies. “When you’re running at a hundred miles an hour and constantly putting out fires, it can be hard to focus on improving yourself as a people leader. However, if you’re not focused on improving yourself, how can you expect to ask the same of your team?” Austin’s new skills were recognized by his organization quickly. “I finished this program in November and got promoted in January. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that the skills I learned in the program were a big part of the reason I got the promotion.”
Daria Kouzmenko had been working for startups for several years and really wanted to start her own business. As she was finishing SI&E she “… started one business that grew into another and now both are slowly flourishing.” As a cofounder of Keep Calm And Monetize, Kouzmenko said the courses helped her start writing content and marketing right away. She said the course also helped her to “discover how to find the right clients.”
All courses are self-paced video lectures that can be accessed from any location with an Internet connection at any time. In addition to Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset, other online certificate courses include Empathize and Prototype: A Hands-On Dive into the Key Tools of Design Thinking, Negotiation: How to Get (More of) What You Want, and Building Business Models. A complete list of courses is available online.
Some of the most innovative companies around the world are using Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate curriculum to train their high-potential employees.