TFS 005 - Philippe Telio


How to become a successful entrepreneur?

Philippe Telio during his interview with Sylvie Gendreau for the podcast of The New School of Creativity at the Hôtel Gault in the Old Montreal.

Philippe Telio during his interview with Sylvie Gendreau for the podcast of The New School of Creativity at the Hôtel Gault in the Old Montreal.

At Startupfest: We’re here to deliver people live on their dreams.
— Philippe Telio

You know these two old questions that so many people ask often: Can we teach someone how to be more creative? Can we teach someone how to become an entrepreneur? 

To both questions, I can assure you that the answer is yes. I have taught creativity for a long time and for almost five years to the PhD candidates at Polytechnique Montreal. Many of my students will tell you that they discovered they were much more creative than they thought and some of them have become entrepreneurs with an idea they had during my course. So I have absolutely no doubt about that.

But teaching creativity and entrepreneurship, in my opinion, cannot be taught in the classical way of teaching. Without the engagement of the students, nothing will happen. The role of the professor is more to create the emulation, share some accurate processes and tools but the most important will come from the open minds and desires of the learners to evolve and succeed, and from the experiences while cooperating with others.

A few decades ago, the word 'startup' was not in our dictionary. We had only small, medium and large companies. Being an entrepreneur was something you felt you had inside you. Entrepreneurs didn't overthink it, they just did it. At that time, universities didn't think to build a corpus of knowledge around it as they do today.


In 2017, entrepreneurs are wanted as never before to build new companies that will be able to develop new products and provide new services that our society will need. The good news is that more and more people wish to become entrepreneurs. This explains why suddenly so many schools, universities and accelerators develop new programs to teach how to become a successful entrepreneur.

However, Philippe Telio got started with Startupfest even before the name startup existed! It all happened naturally and organically. The founder is still amazed at the results that are growing faster and faster every year. 

I never expected that a marketing tactic will become a functioning and operating business.
— Philippe Telio

If the challenge for an entrepreneur is to scale as told us Philippe Telio in the episode TFS-004, Startupfest is scaling indeed! The event has grown into a global gathering of the world's best entrepreneurs, founders, investors, and mentors. It features world-class content across three days of keynotes, interactive how-to sessions, thought-provoking predictions, and a healthy dose of irreverence.

Listen to the founder of this successful enterprise, Philippe Telio, who has explained the differences between accelerators who teach entrepreneurs how to succeed. He doubts that universities are the best place to teach entrepreneurship even if some do an excellent job.

For him, their roles are more to produce great researchers who will come up with the intellectual breakthroughs. Entrepreneurs are more interested in disrupting business models: "I think entrepreneurs are also stimulated by innovations and disruptions but much more by disrupting a business model coming out with a sustainable growth."

The inventors are not always the very successful entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs commercialised the computer mouse created by Xerox, Google did not invent the text-based keyword-driven advertisements (from which most money is made) and MySpace existed before Facebook. The great entrepreneurs are not necessarily the inventors of what made them successful.

However some entrepreneurs are true visionaries, always looking for new inventions in many fields, as Elon Musk is with Solar roof, Tesla, SpaceX, Self-driving Electric Semi Trucks, OpenAI... but as he said his goal is not to be disruptive, his motivation is to fix problems that need to be solved.

In Zero to One, Peter Thiel, one of the co-founders of Paypal along with Elon Musk wrote: "It's easier to copy a model than to make something new. Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from zero to 𝓃, adding more of something familiar. But every time we're creating something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange."

Being an entrepreneur means being unique and creative. We can learn a lot from these inspiring makers. Everyone has a different story to tell. This is why Startupfest is such a fun place to be! 

Listen to the founder, Philippe Telio:

Startupfest is meant to inspire people, those who really want to consider becoming entrepreneurs, inspire them but also educate them on the how-to’s.
— Philippe Telio

Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art, it's a craft. And as with all crafts, the more you practice, the more you learn and improve. And because it is so experiential, seeing what others do can give you good ideas that you can apply in your project or business.

Philippe Telio invites everyone to participate to Startupfest:

Anybody is welcome to come with their social desires and they don’t need to have the desire to raise venture capital funding to get something out of Startupfest. Any entrepreneur can come and figure out how to use technology. You don’t have to be a technologist to come, you can come to learn how to use the thinking of startup mentality to grow your business whether social or not, I think there will be value there for you.
— Philippe Telio

Another ingredient to be a successful entrepreneur is creativity. Finding new ways to look at a situation to solve problems creatively and efficiently is very important. Uber and Airbnb innovated by changing the business model in their industry.

As important a good idea may be, it counts often for less than 20% of the overall project. 

The former serial entrepreneur, Bill Aulet, who is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT, explained in Disciplined Entrepreneurship that you need two essentials things to become a successful entrepreneur: 


The willingness and even joy in being different and a high-level mindset to achieve your vision. Don't be afraid to be unconventional, this is the creative spirit!



Entrepreneurship is all about execution to bring these ideas to the market.

In the introduction of his book, Bill Aulet presents three common myths that must go: “The first myth is that individuals start companies. While the entrepreneur as a lone hero is a common narrative, a close reading of the research tells a different story. Teams start companies. Importantly, a bigger team actually adds to the odds of success.”

"The second myth is that all entrepreneurs are charismatic and that their charisma is a key factor. Instead, research shows that entrepreneurs need to be effective communicators, recruiters and salespeople.

The third myth is that there is an entrepreneurship gene, that certain people are genetically predisposed for success in starting companies. They are not, people can adapt and learn new behaviours.”

Indeed! We can learn entrepreneurship as well as we can learn to be more creative. You just need the right mindset and the skill set.

I like the way the Club of Cambridge defined the key factors of entrepreneurship (The Creative Mind of the Day) with the 4H (Heart, Head, Hands and Home). What I have found is that Startupfest provides the perfect ecosystem in line with the Cambridge Club.

I also think that learning how to become an entrepreneur can be helpful for almost everyone nowadays. No matter if you are an artist, a scientist, a technologist or a social activist, you will probably have a side project or a family project one day and these 4H's including mindset, knowledge, learning by doing and communities will be very helpful.

The time has come where everyone is more responsible of the cities and society in which we live in. Gaining autonomy is a key factor for more happiness and a better life. If our children are more and more responsible for their learning, they will become more responsible adults. The world is shifting fast. Acquiring this mindset and these skills will encourage more people to start new ventures and achieve their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.

Now you play

If you wish to become an entrepreneur, here is what you should do:

1. Download our printable, look at the 24 steps suggested by Bill Aulet in Disciplined Entrepreneurship. If it talks to you, read the book, it's very clear and it's a systematic approach to see how you can increase your chances of success. (1)

2. Take the four free online courses on EDX with Bill Aulet and his colleagues the Director of the MIT BootCamps, Erdin Beshimov. (2)

3. Finally, register on Startupfest! If you're too late for this year, get ready for 2018.

Follow me during the Startupfest 2017 edition... I will share my thoughts and discoveries with you. It's always exciting to meet entrepreneurs, influencers, mentors and investors who are writing the future now.

And if you want to make sure that what you do is aligned with who you are, get noticed when I will launch the online course Sketch Your Future. It will be empowering knowledge!

Please, share your comments and experiences, and if you have a topic you would like me to explore or a problem you need to fix...let me know, I'll be happy to help.



1. Sylvie Best Books: 

Aulet, Bill, Disciplined entrepreneurship, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, 2013.
To purchase in:
U.S. and UK.:

Vance Ashlee, Elon Musk, Harper Collins, New York, 2015
To purchase in:
U.S. and U.K.:

Thiel, Peter. Zero to One, Notes on Startup or how to build the future, Crown Publishing book, Random House, New York, 2014
To purchase in:
U.S. and U.K.:

They Make Me Smarter Website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

2. Sylvie Best Courses:

You can innovate: User Innovation & Entrepreneurship 

Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?

Entrepreneurship-102: Do you have a produc?

Entrepreneurship 103: Show me the money? 

3. Sylvie Best Event:


(1) Listing of schools  most  vc backed entrepreneurs