5 Professors Who Became Successful Entrepreneurs

The art of teaching can be closely connected to the art of making money. The same skills that help to lead a classroom — communication, persuasion, and charisma — can also help to lead a business. The following five professors who became entrepreneurs all used their teaching skills in order to better their corporate products.

Jay Craven, Marlboro College

jay craven
Image credit: Marlboro.edu

As a professor of film studies, Dr. Craven is most famous for telling quality stories without putting much money into his productions. He runs a production company known as Kingdom County Productions, helping local area filmmakers to get their projects off of the ground.

Teaching at Marlboro College, Vermont, Dr. Craven has worked with high-profile actors with his film production company like Rip Torn and Kris Kristofferson. He enjoys having a local group of actors as he tells stories about Vermont culture and history from his hometown in southern Vermont.

Dennis Green, San Diego State

denny green
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Sports business has not only become a major financial mover for the entertainment industry but also for colleges as well. Some students who want to pursue a career as a coach or general manager or player agent are doing so through college coursework, though the competition is stiff.

Dennis Green of San Diego State University knows this better than many, as he taught the sports business MBA program and then became the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL. His courses involved students looking into real-life intersections of sports, business, and politics, such as the negotiations over billion dollar stadiums. All of these played a factor in his success as a factor in an NFL team’s success.

Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School

Image credit: Mashable.com
Image credit: Mashable.com

With a plethora of degrees — bachelor’s in economics and management, master’s in philosophy, legal degree from Yale — Dr. Lessig has a rather long CV. In addition to his schooling, he founded the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, meant to look into the interaction between law and our online world. This organization is responsible for courtroom decisions and played a major role in the recent controversy over Stop Online Piracy Act, a legal doctrine that proved to be so unpopular that it was not ratified once put on the table by Congress. The act, nicknamed SOPA, gained notoriety when online reference site Wikipedia famously closed down their services for a single day in order to protest the measures put forward by anti-piracy efforts.

Al Franken, Harvard University

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Image credit: Wikipedia.org

There are several instances of comedians and entertainers turned into professors and vice-versa. Al Franken may be the model of all entrepreneurs, entertainers, educators, and politicians, having had a career spanning all elements of each industry.

As a visiting honorary professor at Harvard, he taught courses on politics before announcing that he would run for office in Minnesota, his home state, where today he is the junior senator of the Great Lakes State. Having published half a dozen books and being featured in films as well as television, Franken’s experience goes well past the classroom and into the world of practical business and politics.

Oprah Winfrey, Northwestern University

Image credit: Wikipedia.org

Though she was an entrepreneur long before she stepped into a college classroom, the queen of all media enhanced her resume by teaching leadership courses at Northwestern University’s school of management, classes that filled up in a matter of minutes. With a long list of accomplishments that include founding her own TV show, magazine, and home service shopping network, Oprah has both book smarts and street smarts to spare when it comes to creating a brand image and making money off of a corporate strategy.

Author Bio: Joshua Turner is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to the field of business. In this article, he offers situations where professors began successful entrepreneurial projects and aims to encourage further study through Masters of Education Programs.