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McCormick in the Media

Farley Director’s Op-ed on ‘Whole-Brain Thinking’ Startup Approach Featured in Crain’s Chicago Business

Northwestern's unique approach proving successful

There is an ongoing debate in the technology world about what makes the ideal startup founder. Is it an innovative technical expert that lacks formal business training? Or a business-savvy MBA graduate that is short on technical experience?

Michael MarascoAccording to Michael Marasco, director of the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northwestern University, the debate itself needs to be changed.

In an October 22 op-ed in Crain’s Chicago Business, Marasco argues that startup success is not determined by the college degrees of its founders, but rather the diverse skills and viewpoints the founding team members embrace when working together. Embodying a “whole-brain thinking” approach that values both technical expertise and business savvy is the most effective path to become a high-growth startup.

Marasco references the startups emerging from the Farley Center that currently enjoy success thanks to this method. SiNode Systems, which has won more than $1 million from business competitions in 2013, is led by an MBA graduate from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, but the rest of the founding members are graduate students from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Another startup embodying the “whole-brain” philosophy, SwipeSense, is currently a finalist in the Wall Street Journal’s “WSJ Startup of the Year” competition.  

 “Many of these teams have technical co-founders, but that is not the sole reason for their success. Rather, it is the ability of their teams to think collectively across disciplines and embrace multiple viewpoints that has driven them to rise above their competition,” writes Marasco.

Read Michael Marasco’s entire op-ed at Crain’s Chicago Business.