Technically Speaking Series

Revolutionary Innovation Lessons from Unicorn Entrepreneurs: How Evolutionary Corporations Can Build Unicorns in Emerging Trends | Technological Leadership Institute

Series Event Date: Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 5:30pm

Location: Online

Speakers: Dileep Rao, PhD

Unicorn Entrepreneurs (and mini-unicorn entrepreneurs) built billion-dollar and hundred-million-dollar mini-unicorn companies from startup. In the process of building their businesses and dominating their industries, they beat their direct competitors in the emerging trend and then decimated the large corporations that previously dominated their industries. Over the last 70 years, examples include:
• Sam Walton dominating in-store retail and destroying K-Mart and Dick Schulze building Best Buy.
• Jobs and Gates destroying companies like Control Data and DEC and humbling IBM.
• Page/Brin and Bezos using the Internet to dominate information search and retail.
• Kalanick and Chesky changing transportation and hospitality.

These entrepreneurs dominated emerging industries and beat existing corporations by using revolutionary innovations to create new business models and obsolete the old. Contrary to popular myth, venture capital (VC) played a secondary role to unicorn entrepreneurs. Of the 85 unicorn entrepreneurs studied, only 1 percent got VC after proving the technology innovation; 23 percent got VC after proving their strategic innovation; 76% percent never used VC at all.

Ultimately, nearly all unicorn-entrepreneurs used unicorn skills and smart venture strategies to take off without VC. Dr. Rao will discuss these strategies and how large corporations can follow in the footsteps of unicorn entrepreneurs to develop unicorn ventures in emerging industries with limited capital, limited risk and maximum skills. By doing so, corporations can take advantage of emerging trends spawning business model innovations and build corporate unicorns. Incidentally, they can also reduce the risk of bankruptcy and avoid following Sears, Wards and Control Data on the road to oblivion.

Who Should Attend?
This discussion is targeted at corporate executives who want to build corporate unicorns in emerging trends with reduced risk, as well as entrepreneurs who want to know how to build unicorns without VC.

About the Speaker

Dileep Rao

Dileep Rao, an instructor in our M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT) program, was the V.P. and director of one of the largest development finance institutions in the U.S. where he managed turnarounds and financed more than 400 businesses (including two billion-dollar entrepreneurs and seven hundred-million-dollar entrepreneurs) using venture capital, subordinated convertible financing, loans and leases. Dr. Rao was also a consultant in venture development for governments and Fortune 500 corporations. He is the author of venture financing books for the NY Times and the American Management Association. 

Over the last 13 years, Rao has interviewed 35 billion-dollar entrepreneurs and hundred-million-dollar entrepreneurs and researched an additional 80 billion-dollar entrepreneurs to understand their business, finance, and leadership strategies and skills. His first book on this topic is "Nothing Ventured, Everything Gained." His second is "Finance Secrets of Billion-Dollar Entrepreneurs: Venture Finance without Venture Capital." The key finding is that 76 percent of America’s unicorn-entrepreneurs did not use venture capital — they built their businesses with a combination of seven other types of venture financing, skills and finance-smart strategies. He has developed a unicorn-entrepreneurship program to teach these skills and strategies to the 99.98 percent of entrepreneurs who will not get VC or who will fail with it.

Dr. Rao has taught high-performance entrepreneurship, innovation and venture financing in undergraduate, MBA and Executive MBA programs around the world in universities, including the University of Minnesota, Harvard, Stanford, Florida International University and INCAE Business School (Costa Rica). He has won numerous awards for excellence in teaching. He has a bachelor's in mechanical engineering, a master's in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in business administration. He also writes articles/blogs for and has written nationally acclaimed books, including "Handbook of Business Finance & Capital Sources" (American Management Association), and "Business Financing: 25 Keys to Raising Money" (NY Times MBA Series).

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