Disruptive Innovation is Required to Transform Healthcare

Will disruptive entrepreneurship transform healthcare?

Hacking Health and Centre d’entreprises et d’innovation de Montréal (CEIM) hosted a digital healthcare leadership forum (May 2015) and attracted a full house, with audience members with research, industry, and clinical backgrounds. The event featured a panel of speakers and was moderated by Michael Grandinetti, a person of many talents who is a serial entrepreneur, advisor to venture capitalists and start-ups, and Managing Director of StartUp Boston and Managing Director of ProtoHack Boston as well as Global professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Hult International Business School.
Michael began by providing an overview to the state of healthcare, and talked about challenges facing consumers-as-patients. He noted that one of the biggest flaws of the current healthcare system is that medical communities only make money when someone is ill. As he put it, “The system is broken… the incentives are upside down”.

How can we move forward?

The international startup marketplace may offer inspiration with projects such as:

Embrace: a highly cost-effective infant incubator

Sproxil: uses mobile technology to combat counterfeit medicines

These initiatives provide preventative healthcare resources that is accessible to many and reduces the unnecessary burden of disease.

A video of Mike’s keynote speech can be found here:


Panel discussion with physician-entrepreneurs

Further inspiration was provided by the panel discussion with three former physicians who are now entrepreneurs:

Mike Grandinetti: Moderator

John Reeves: digital marketer and innovator

Omar Shaker: consultant and co-founder of Health 2.0 (Cairo)

Alexis Theriault: consultant and co-founder of CureBox

John began by stating, “I think doctors rock. The system is not broken. Having a surgery which gives you 15 years of life is a miracle”.

Omar considered this point in the context of workflow optimization, saying, “It is everything around this miraculous moment of surgery that needs to be improved – the paperwork, the administration – this is where the issues lie”.

Digital technology may replace up to 80% of what doctors’ administrative tasks while allowing them to focus on what matters: the science and art of medicine.

Michael asked, “Can you compare and contrast being a doctor and being an entrepreneur?”

Omar: “You lose control when you into entrepreneurship, in medicine you can have certain expectations…”

Alexis: “Going into the commercial sector is very hard… you may have 29 ideas, and someone else will have 125. Business is organic, different than medicine which is very concrete because I can really get to +know my patients inside out”

John: “Industry is a critical partner for all innovators”

Michael asked if the panelists had any advice for Québec entrepreneurs and they responded:

“Have humility when you go into business, be around people who are better than you… Invest in time rather than resources to understand what works here…”

For many doctor-entrepreneurs, the book is not written. They are applying knowledge as they go along. The story remains to be told.

The panel discussion was followed with presentations by PetalMD and OMSignal, two Québec startups that are…

Overcoming pain points in healthcare

Petal MD is a networking app featuring productivity tools for healthcare professionals. Physicians can use PetalMD to engage in tasks such as collaborative scheduling continual medical education, document-sharing, and secure messaging.
The founder, Patrice Gilbert, reflected on how far the company has come since it was founded “Four years ago, it was almost impossible [for entrepreneurs] to work in clinical settings – we could be kicked off the hospital premises”. The medical culture is changing slowly but surely as technology and inter-professional collaboration becomes a part of many clinicians’ workflows.

In terms of the evolution of a healthcare company, he remarked, “We can do a lot of innovation so long as there is the human ingredient such as data scientists, designers, subject matter experts, mobile gurus, and an executive team”.

OMsignal is bio-sensing apparel company that has turned fitness clothing into connected devices that can track the user’s bodily states.

Health Data Sensors and the Internet of Things
The co-founder, Stephane Marceau, explained that asking people to enter data about their heart rate, ECG levels, and so on is pain point, but one which had a solution. In a few years from now, smart apparel may very well become the norm.

Regarding OMsignal’s approach – and success – Stephane emphasized, “The customer has a set of emotions, we have to work from that… You need to access real buyer engagement to create products that can draw deep signals”.

Design thinking is a crucial part of this process even if entrepreneurs don’t always understand this approach.

This event showcased the many ways that extraordinary innovation is occurring in the healthcare industry, in Québec and beyond.

As Michael put it,

“Design thinking, patient journeys, raising capital – this is the challenge of healthcare startups. I can’t imagine a more exciting journey that can be taken. We have the tools… everything is in place to transform healthcare to be the system we want it to be.”

This Conference summary was created by Hacking Health Montreal in advance of the International Startup Festival, where I will give a talk on Disruptive Business Models on Thursday 16 July, 2015.


Does an MBA Really Make Sense for an Aspiring Entrepreneur


To get the lowdown on the value of a business degree for entrepreneurs, we caught up with Mike Grandinetti, professor of entrepreneurship, innovation, management and marketing at Hult International Business School.

Mike was an obvious candidate as our go-to guy for advice on this topic. He’s one of Hult’s most popular lecturers, and has won numerous awards for teaching excellence. But he’s also an accomplished entrepreneur who, since beginning his career as an engineer in Silicon Valley, has been involved in the formation of seven advanced technology startups and helped lead five venture-backed startups to successful exits, including two NASDAQ Stock Market IPOs.

In addition to teaching at Hult, he is a faculty member at the MIT Enterprise Forum Smart Start program, and a senior lecturer at the Technical University of Denmark and speaks about entrepreneurship and innovation on the TEDx circuit.

BENTO: So, Mike, you probably hear the argument that ‘real’ entrepreneurs don’t go to Business school a lot. What’s your view?

GRANDINETTI: Well, I’d agree in the sense that entrepreneurship can’t be learned in the same way as traditional MBA subjects like accounting or finance. The Nike motto, “Just Do It,” is pretty good advice for entrepreneurs. You want to be an entrepreneur? The only way to learn how is by doing it—doing it and failing and then doing it again until you finally get it right.

I think an MBA can help. But I tell students to look for programs where faculty are experienced entrepreneurs themselves, and, ideally, current practitioners. Students should seek out programs where they’ll have opportunities to roll up their sleeves and create new ventures, whether that’s through new student ventures and pitch competitions, on-campus “hackathons” or consulting projects for other startups.

“Remember, working for a startup isn’t just a job. It’s a serious lifestyle choice.”

At school, students should sign up for practical electives to learn about current methodologies such as design thinking, lean startup and raising capital.

Many MBA programs now have on-campus startup accelerators for both students and alumni—and some have seed capital funds that invest in student ventures. In Boston, the DormRoomFund, capitalized by an institutional venture capital firm, has student representatives on 12 research university campuses in the area, including MIT, Harvard, Northeastern and Tufts. They make $20,000 seed investments in promising student ventures. Stanford has the StartX Fund for its student entrepreneurs.

Students should try to get as much exposure as possible to entrepreneurs, especially those of their own generation, as well as venture capital and angel investors. They should try to meet entrepreneurs and investors who come as guest speakers in class or participate in on-campus entrepreneurship student club events—wherever they can find them. They should also get off campus regularly and attend venture-centric meet-ups and other events to get a feel for how the local startup ecosystem functions. There’s a better chance of making those kind of connections at campuses located in established global innovation clusters—Boston/Cambridge, the San Francisco Bay area/Silicon Valley, London, Berlin or Singapore.

Social entrepreneurship is a rapidly emerging field. Many of the same arguments apply. I actually think getting a degree is one of the most effective ways to be exposed to this domain.

And don’t forget, business schools are a great place to meet co-founders and start your venture. Some amazing companies were launched on business school campuses by student co-founders: Airbnb (Rhode Island School of Design), Microsoft, Facebook and Rent the Runway (Harvard Business School), Warby Parker (Wharton School), GrubHub (University of Chicago), Uber (Stanford) and Akamai (MIT).

BENTO: What are some of the most common mistakes business students make in planning for entrepreneurial careers?

GRANDINETTI: Well, you know, students can be swayed by what’s in popular media. So many have an overly glamorized view of what it means to be an entrepreneur. They underestimate how hard it is—how heavily the odds are stacked against any single venture, the extraordinary level of commitment and sacrifice required to get a business off the ground. I tell students to remember working for a startup isn’t just a job, it’s a serious lifestyle choice.

BENTO: So what advice do you have for students who are looking for professional experience before starting their own ventures?

GRANDINETTI: The best professional experience is one that’s directly relevant to the job you aspire to. So, if you want to start a company, one of the best experiences you can have is to work in someone else’s startup first and learn from them. A lot of students tell me they want to get experience working for a big firm first before starting their own venture. But my view is that, with a very few noteworthy exceptions, working for a large global company will not be of much value to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur. More often than not, working for a big global firm tends to be a detriment to future success as an entrepreneur. It’s not that working for a big company is a bad thing. It’s just that the differences between big companies and startups—in corporate culture, velocity, performance expectations—are vast. In general, my advice is: if you want to work at a startup, start at a startup. There will be far more room for growth there—more chances to have a significant role, bigger responsibilities.

BENTO: You mentioned “hackathons.” What’s up with those? What are they and why are they so popular?

GRANDINETTI: A “hack” is a quick, creative, but maybe inelegant solution to a problem or limitation. A “hackathon“ is a mashup of the terms “hack” and “marathon.”

Hackathons have quickly emerged as key places for networking, job recruiting, pitching and in many cases, winning cash for your startup. For example, Salesforce.com awarded a $1 million prize to a team that came up with the most innovative solution to a challenge it issued. Kleiner Perkins, the big venture capital firm, sends partners to about 20 collegiate hackathons a year.

Recruiters and startups use hackathons to see which students thrive in a chaotic environment that models the dynamic of a startup. For students, hackathons offer a “test drive”—the chance to experience the intensity of working for a startup before committing to a job.

Last year, the world’s largest organizer of hackathons, UP Global, delivered 1248 StartupWeekend hackathons in 568 cities across 112 countries worldwide, with 105,000 attendees. This year they figure the number will rise to 1800 hackathons with many student participants. University–specific hackathons are now a big part of the tech startup scene, with over 150 intercollegiate hackathons expected to be held on US college campuses in 2015 according to Major League Hacking, the “NCAA of Hackathons.”

BENTO: So what’s a hackathon like?

GRANDINETTI: Well, typically they run from Friday night through Sunday night, and are designed around small teams who gulp Red Bull and Starbucks while working together to find quick solutions, often by writing software applications. At the end of the weekend, judges circulate and review each team’s “hacks” to pick winners.

For MBA students who don’t have technical backgrounds, or have not yet attracted technical co-founders, non-coding hackathons like Protohack offer a less intense experience. Protohacks are 12-hour events that allow teams to develop prototypes without writing computer code. Instead they use “drag-and-drop” editors, mock-up tools and wireframes to approximate the rapid prototyping common to more traditional hackathons.

“Business schools are a great place to meet co-founders and start your venture.”

BENTO: So what about “accelerators”? What are they, and what should students know about them?

GRANDINETTI: An “accelerator” is designed to accelerate the market traction of a startup. The first two accelerators were founded in 2005 and 2006: Y Combinator started in Boston, and Techstars started in Boulder, Colorado. Now accelerators are a global phenomenon.

There are a variety of different business models for accelerators. The most common involves selecting a small number, typically about ten, through a highly competitive application process. Winners are hosted for 90-120 days “in residence” with their cohort, and get intense mentorship from entrepreneurs and angel investors who push them to achieve market validation fast. In exchange for this access to mentors and investors, the startups are typically required to sell approximately five to seven percent of their equity for an investment of between $50,000 and $150,000. At the end of the program, there’s a “Demo Day,” where entrepreneurs share their progress with the local investment community.

With top-tier accelerators, hundreds of angel investors and venture capitalist attend. Many view this as the first rung on the venture capital ladder. The leading accelerators are now very hard to get into.

There are also “pre-accelerator” programs like StartupNext, created by both Google for Entrepreneurs and Startup America. In just a year, StartupNext has helped place over 40 global ventures into top-tier accelerators.

Worldwide, there are at least 1500 accelerators. The best ones have a universally established track record of success. The latest trend is toward more industry-centric accelerators, from Hacking Health in Montreal and Rock Health in the Bay Area, to energy accelerators such as SURGE in Houston, the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator in San Diego, the Mobility Automotive Tech Accelerator in Detroit, and the LearnLaunch Education Technology Accelerator in Boston. Notable non-US accelerators include Startupbootcamp and Seedcamp, which are pan-European in scope. There is also MassChallenge in London, EISP8200 in Israel, Start-Up Chile in Santiago, Joyful Frog in Singapore as well as Techstars in Berlin. Well-known graduates of accelerators include Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe and Next Big Sound.

BENTO: So, bottom line, if I know I want to work at a startup or launch one of my own, is investing all the time and money on a business degree worth it?

GRANDINETTI: Yes, if you are purposeful in taking advantage of all of the resources and connections available to you, in the classroom, on campus, in extracurricular activities and in the startup ecosystem where you are studying. I’ve seen many of my students grow remarkably during their time in business school. Many are now well on their way to launching and growing exciting, innovative startups in San Francisco, Boston, London or other cities around the world.


This interview first appeared in the Hult International Business School Online Publication, “Hult Bento” http://bento.hult.edu/new-learning-by-doing/




Experiential Learning in Entrepreneurship Education

This is the complete interview that I conducted with Boston Innovation on the subject of experiential education for MBAs, Masters students and undergraduates.

  1. What is your philosophy on experiential learning and how do you implement it in your teaching?

Entrepreneurship or marketing can’t be learned in the same way as traditional MBA subjects like accounting or finance can, with problem sets and exams. The Nike motto, “Just Do It,” is pretty good advice for entrepreneurs and digital marketers. You want to be a great entrepreneur? A world-class digital marketer? The only way to learn how is by doing it—doing it and failing and then doing it again until you finally get it right.

I tell students to look for programs where faculty are experienced entrepreneurs themselves, and, ideally, current practitioners. Students should seek out programs where they’ll have opportunities to roll up their sleeves and create new ventures, whether that’s through student new venture and pitch competitions, on-campus “hackathons” or consulting projects for other startups

  1. Where has Boston’s education community as a whole had success incorporating experiential learning and where do we have room to improve?

In general, some Boston colleges and universities have done a great job of integrating students into real world opportunities. For example


  • The MIT $1000K global entrepreneurship competition (where I served as a judge for 10 years) the grand-daddy of ALL B-Plan competitions, which has spawned literally hundreds of imitators around the world, and has a huge positive legacy in Boston and beyond. Participants come from across the Institute, from Bachelors through PhD programs and includes Post Doctorates.
  • The MIT Hacking Medicine Hackathon – which has students working alongside doctors and health care industry officials to cerate innovative new solutions to improve the standard of healthcare. Several of my Hult MBAs, tow of which are MDs, attended this past year with my strong encouragement. Itw as a n awesome experience for them.
  • At the undergraduate level, the Boston College Venture Club aka BCVC, (where I have served as a judge and a keynoter) is aimed at undergraduates and serves to inspire them early on in their careers
  • The Northeastern University accelerator IDEA, which has 200 companies now being incubated in its offices.
  • Northeastern’s iconic Co-Op program has long been the gold standard for university programs of this type
  • The Harvard Innovation Lab” iLab” is  open to all members of the Harvard community across all degree programs
  • Student centric seed stage VC funds like DormRoomFund, now targeting student entrepreneurs at 12 Boston / Cambridge Area research universities. Students from each campus actually source deals and serve as investors.

3. What, specifically, do you to to engender experiential learning at Hult International Business School? 

I have always stood for bringing the real world into the classroom, whether at MIT Sloan, where I taught as a Senior lecturer form many years, and of course at Hult.

Some activities that I would highlight include:

  1. Hult Impact Challenge, where EVERY Hult MBA
    1. Create a new startup
    2. Create  anew social venture
    3. Address global challenge from IBM, Philips, Unilever
    4. I was fortunate to be part of  small team of Hult leaders and served as an architect of this program while participating on our MBA Curriculum re-design team, which was named as the most innovative MBA curriculum in the world by the global accreditation body last year. Students really loved this experience and the level of improvement in our students over the course of this guided journey has been extraordinary.  I recently had the pleasure of judging our finalists from each of our global campuses at our graduation summit  in Davos  and was blown away.
  1. In my New Business Ventures Entrepreneurship elective offered to our MBA students in Boston that just ended, students brought in ideas for their own ventures, formed teams, and were guided by a very real-world, best practices process, including Design Thinking, LeanStartup, Value Proposition Design, etc, validated every step of the process by interacting with prospective customers and strategic partners, and ended the course by pitching 2 Boston angel investors and me. Several of the companies will continue into the marketplace. I had many guest lecturers in from the local Boston community, including Hubspot, and a company in the Techstars. Boston accelerator, Shearwater International and a company that has appeared on Shark Tank twice, failing the first time and raising money successfully the second time. We ran a joint session on pitching with the MIT Enterprise Forum Funders Smart Start Program, where I am also a faculty member, on the Hult campus. The MIT participants were all more senior in age and therefore more experienced professionally, and the multi-generational differences made the session quite interesting.  Almost the entire Hult class attended my StartupNext Demo Day, which was held at Hubspot’s HQ the night after the course started. The Founders pitches made a huge impression on many of them. For the final project, the students pitched their ventures to lasers from Techstars and Betaspring, tow of the top startup accelerators in the US.
  3. In my Digital and Social Marketing and Advertising core course,offered to our Masters in Marketing students, I recruited 15 startups from around the world (Boston, NYC, San Francisco, Montreal, London) . Our students worked closely with company founders and executives in a very hands-on way across the entire module to develop Digital and Social Marketing and Advertising strategies and campaigns, using Facebook, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, and YouTube. They presented to the founder sand executives. Many were rewarded with internships and some were hired full time. I had 8-9 guest lecturers from leading companies in the digital advertising world as well as the Financial Times.
  5. Many of my MBA and MIM students served as consultants to my 7 StartupNext Boston startup cohort members furthering their real word experience. Many attended my MeetUp at MakerBot on Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyoping and heard from 3 inspiring local startups, all using 3 D printing in their product manufacturing.  I ran a MeetUp on EdTech at MIT that featured the Boston EdTech accelerator LearnLaunch, the global accelerator Startup Chile, as well as a 9 EdTech startups including those from tech stars, StartupNext and LearnLaunch, that was very well attended by Hult students.
  7. We ran several events in conjunction with our Hult Startup Club , the Hult Science in Business Club and Hult Think Tank Group.  For example, we held a Meetup where we had speakers including the Managing Partner of  the Dorm Room Fund and the Managing Director Boston University . Technology Licensing office.  Another event featured the CTO and Co-Foudner of Shark Tank money winner Scholly as well as the  co-founder Founder of the award winning local craft brewer Revival Brewing.


  • There are still far too many students that I from across many area colleges and universities that I regularly connect with at MeetUps and Conferences that I organize and run that here in Boston that seem to feel that their courses are taught in the same way as they have been for the past 100 years, lectures and exams.
  • How has experiential learning contributed to the growth of Boston’s startup ecosystem?
  • Hackathons have quickly emerged as key places for networking, job recruiting, pitching and in many cases, wining cash for your startup. Recruiters and startups use hackathons to see which students thrive in a chaotic environment that models the dynamic of a real startup. For students, hackathons offer a “test drive” – the chance to experience the intensity of working for a startup before committing to a job. Boston holds many hackathons each year, and students are key participants.( For example, I will be bringing ProtoHack, a code-free Hackathon, to Boston for the first time, on 21 November- this will bring a much larger community into the rapidly growing global Hackathon culture )

What role does it play in improving talent retention in Boston?

  • The result in ALL of the above is that that has created a much more “Job Ready” work force that meets the requirements of the local business community. Startups don’t have the time or resources to rain people- hiring students with practical startup experience is a HUGE win for BOTH startup and student/ recent graduate. Students now know if startups are really right for them as a career choice. They are far more self-aware of whether they have the personality to thrive in such a stressful environment. Startups know the skills students have to get the job done on Day 1. They don’t wash out nearly as easily as they might have when both students and startups had to fly blind, and where many costly hiring mistakes were made

As more international students are attending Boston colleges and universities, how does experiential learning accelerate their adjustment to a new culture, language, etc.?

  • My international students get great benefit from experiential learning. For many, they come from far more traditional universities in their home countries, where ALL learning is from the professor‘s lectures and the only application of that knowledge happens through tests and exams. In many cases, the professors are regarded as “deity figures: and even asking questions can be considered inappropriate. Experiential learning is something that they are hungry for and actively seek out. It can be hugely transformative. Whether it be learning about the importance of punctuality in a business context, the “whatever it takes 24X7” business culture of the startup, or the unique US “pitch culture”, there is vast adaptation.
  • Who does experiential learning benefit more: Undergraduate students or graduate students?
  • While both benefit, my experience is that graduate students benefit more because they already have work experience under their belts. Therefore, they can be more productive when joining an employer in a consulting project, field study, hackathons, ect. They have more context and more skills fro their previous professional experience and are typically more self aware regarding their own intetersts and skills.


From Startup to Empire: How Disruptive Innovation Fuels Netflix, Uber & Nike

“Disruptive innovation” is an increasingly popular idea in the business community, however, many people don’t understand what it truly means. Described as the process by which a product or service starts out in its simplest form at the bottom of the market before moving up to displace established competitors, the term “disruptive innovation” was first used by business professor Clayton Christensen in 1995.

Today, the concept can account for the emergence and meteoric rise of companies like Uber and Netflix, according to Mike Grandinetti, global professor of entrepreneurship, innovation, and digital marketing at Hult International Business School.

Grandinetti is an expert in disruptive innovation and has made a career of pursuing disruption since his introduction to Silicon Valley working as an engineer for Hewlett-Packard Company (HP). He has used his 25 years of entrepreneurial operating experience to guide high-growth startups — mentoring at accelerators such as Techstars and Startup NEXT — and inspire student entrepreneurs throughout his simultaneous 20-year teaching career at the MBA and executive education level.

“I love looking at disruption both from the point of view of the attacker — the startup — and the incumbent who has to defend against the attacker,” Grandinetti says. “I’ve been teaching a course on disruptive business model innovation across many of Hult’s global campuses, while also speaking, publishing, and blogging about it. My interest and passion just continues to grow.”

BostInno sat down with Grandinetti, who shared how early-stage startups can use disruptive innovation to mirror the success of Uber and Netflix, and how corporate empires like Nike use disruption to remain ahead of the competition.

Ingredients for Building a Disruptive Startup: Netflix and Uber

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Mike Grandinetti has been an expert in disruptive innovation since his introduction to Silicon Valley working as an engineer for Hewlett-Packard Company.
“Startups that are disruptive tend to be led by or founded by people who see the world and can’t agree with a principal model,” Grandinetti says. “They believe that the current process or business model is less than optimal and care deeply about delivering a superior experience to users.”

He points to Netflix founder Reed Hastings as an example. Hastings recognized Blockbuster as a predatory company that generated 10 to 20 percent of its profits from late fees. After experiencing the exorbitant fees first-hand, he started Netflix and changed the way we consume on-demand media.

“He did it out of a sense of frustration, in order to deliver a superior at-home movie viewing experience,” Grandinetti says. “Watching movies should be convenient and pleasant. Before Netflix disrupted Blockbuster, that simply was not the case.”

Grandinetti marvels at the fact that Hastings built Netflix at a time when broadband did not exist yet named and branded the company based on his ability to see the future and capitalize on it.

According to Grandinetti, true disruption relies on “a combination of envisioning something that you believe will positively impact the world, but also understanding when the technology will evolve to be delivered at scale.”

He notes Uber’s success: The company aggressively capitalized on the universal pain point of hailing, riding in, and paying for a taxi, and combined it with emerging technology to build a ride-sharing empire.

“They understood that there was huge frustration and inconvenience, and they were ahead of the curve in seeing the convergence between ubiquitous mobile phones, increasingly accurate GPS systems and the fact that mobile apps have now become a very important part of the global ‘always-connected’ economy,” Grandinetti explains.

Staying Disruptive After Enjoying Success: Nike and Intuit

In order to avoid becoming irrelevant, Grandinetti says that great companies constantly challenge themselves and dare to continuously innovate, pointing to Nike and Intuit as examples.

Nike recognized the strength of the Techstars venture accelerator model and chose to infuse the company with similar entrepreneurial energy. Nike invited these startups to work on the company’s campus using Techstars methodology and handpicked entrepreneurial teams to create an in-house accelerator, Nike+ Accelerator, to advance the digital products that the company was already pursuing.

“Startups that are disruptive tend to be led by or founded by people who see the world and can’t agree with a principal model.” – @mikegrand1
Intuit Chairman Scott Cook and CEO Brad Smith also rely on open innovation, a lean startup model, and human-centric design to maintain an 80 percent market share, according to Grandinetti. He notes that Cook refers to his employees as entrepreneurs, understands they are the ones who are going to make the company great, and creates a unique corporate atmosphere that empowers them.

“He runs Intuit like a massive accelerator, and it’s brilliant,” Grandinetti says. “It takes a lot of humility for a billionaire to say, ‘I’m not the boss, I’m a mentor. These entrepreneurial employees come to me with ideas to solve our customers’ financial problems, and I coach them, mentor them, guide them along or I challenge them, but I’m not here to tell them what to do.’”

Developing the Next Generations of Disruptors:

“If we don’t bring the real world into the classroom, we are doing students a disservice,” Grandinetti says.

As an educator, Grandinetti combines classroom-based learning with the opportunity to work directly with startups to expose students to how innovative disruption is realized. During a recent digital and social marketing course, Grandinetti brought in 15 startups that he advises and had 150 marketing students consult for them.

“Over three months, 50 percent of the students’ grade was based on the quality and strength of the recommendations that they made to each of these startups,” Grandinetti says. “Marketing students rolled up their sleeves, and they ran optimized Facebook campaigns, Buzzfeed campaigns, Pinterest campaigns, LinkedIn campaigns and Google AdWords campaigns for a range of B2B, B2C and B2B2C startups.”

Practices such as this have paid dividends for the Hult student body, as alumni are impacting the Boston innovation scene with startups of their own.

Leveraging City-Wide Disruption to Advance Boston:

Grandinetti admits that Silicon Valley has the upper hand when it comes to innovations in the social, mobile and cloud arenas, but Boston’s strength in key technologies such as biotech, life sciences, clean tech and robotics is helping us close the gap.

“We’re the best in the world — and no one can ever dispute this — around biotech, life sciences and anything medical because of the world-class teaching and research hospitals in the region, the presence of research institutions like MIT, Harvard, and BU, and the cluster of startups that have sprung up around them,” Grandinetti says. “We should focus on building on our strengths and not view Silicon Valley as a competitor. These innovation clusters are the envy of the world.”

This article was written by Ethan Buckowicz and originally appeared in BostonInno on 9 June, 2015