Published: Aug. 3, 2022

“I wanted to be in a position where I could help empower people to become entrepreneurs.”
Andy Wu, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, discusses his journey from entrepreneurship to academia.

Creative Distillation research podcast

Hosts Brad Werner and Jeff York break from tradition for the Creative Distillation season three finale, recording at York’s home instead of a brewery for a special showdown. Colorado beers are pitted against a Boston brew in honor of guest Andy Wu, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

After sampling pilsners from Verboten Brewing Barrel Project, Upslope Brewing Co. and Prost Brewing Co. alongside Samuel Adams’ Alpine Lager, Wu shares how his background as an entrepreneur inspired him to become a business professor.

“I wanted to be in a position where I could help empower people to become entrepreneurs, both because I think it’s a good opportunity for people to empower themselves, but more generally, that it’s something good for the American economy,” he says. “I think that education and universities can play a really critical role in that.”

Making meaningful research

Wu acknowledges that a significant portion of academic research doesn’t serve entrepreneurs or managers, and the trio explore the disconnect between topics covered in academic papers and real-world questions business owners need addressed. For Wu, bridging the gap starts with research questions and data that have “managerial relevance,” questions he might draw from his own personal experience or workplace-focused TV shows like “The Office” or “Silicon Valley” that get viewers to laugh at tense situations.

York discusses how he intends for his own research, which examines how entrepreneurship can address climate change, to be translated into something useful for people, whether it’s students, activists or policy makers. Werner posits thinking around entrepreneurship is limited by its close association with business schools, when it could be a powerful tool to bring people together and generate new ideas.

“If you can bring all these disciplines together, the problem solving that can come out of it is amazing,” Werner says.

Season three, distilled

Lessons learned from and by entrepreneurs were the topic of conversation throughout this season of Creative Distillation. Guests included Sanitas Brewing co-founder Michael Memsic, Upslope Brewing Company founder Matt Cutter and Dan Garfinkel, CEO and Founder of Finkel & Garf Brewing Company, who shared their experiences in the local brewing industry. The local business owners touched on topics from starting a brewery in a heavily saturated market and securing funding to building a brand and staying profitable.

Werner and York also welcomed Executive MBA students to the podcast and took a closer look at research examining entrepreneurship educationautonomy’s role in entrepreneurship, the challenges craft brewers face after acquisition and how formal and informal institutions affect startups and entrepreneurship.

About the podcast

Creative Distillation is a research podcast co-hosted by Jeff York and Brad Werner, both of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. Each episode distills academic research on entrepreneurship into actionable insights. This season, the hosts connect with researchers from around the globe to discuss sustainability, yoga, cannabis, food trucks, entrepreneurship programs and accelerators.

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