One of the pleasures of my job as a business librarian is the chance to routinely meet the innovators enrolled in Foster’s entrepreneurship programs. Whether undergraduates, MBA students, engineers, or medical researchers, these visionaries eagerly share their enthusiasm for new products, services, and technology solutions—and their passion is infectious. I observe routinely, however, that one common side effect of this sort of laser focus is a myopic worldview.
Entrepreneurs necessarily become immersed in the specifics of their burgeoning companies. The folks I meet can tell me about the precise details of how their products and systems work, the expertise of their team, and what problems they aspire to solve. Where they often lack awareness, though, is understanding how to answer bigger-picture questions like “Who are your customers,” “What is the potential market size,” and “Who are your competitors?” This is where I become excited because it presents an opportunity for librarians to contribute.
When I deliver my personal “elevator pitch,” I often characterize my role as one who procures information and ensures that it is put to good use. So when I meet an aspiring startup team lacking the ability to articulate the big picture, I point them to the wealth of information sources that the library provides and help them to apply it directly to their business plans.
In an effort to keep up with the growing needs of the UW startup community, the Foster Business Library is in a constant state of developing new vendor relationships that provide our budding entrepreneurs with valuable and relevant information. A few key sources have come online in just the last year:
- BCC Research — Specialized market research reports covering health and medical, science, technology, and other business-to-business sectors.
- eMarketer — Statistics and insights into all things digital. Information graphics, articles, and reports illustrate what consumers do online and how marketers reach them.
- PitchBook — Through a partnership between the Buerk Center and the Library, students may tap into a wealth of information on private equity and venture capital funding trends.
Working with Foster’s entrepreneurs is genuinely inspiring. Their energy and drive motivates me to be entrepreneurial in my own efforts to increase awareness and relevance of competitive intelligence in new business ventures. Such awareness in our future leaders plays a significant role in addressing opportunities and making strategic decisions.
Learn more about the Foster Business Library.