Entrepreneur Danny Warshay lives on the East Side, where his children attend public schools and he enjoys spin classes at the Dwares JCC. Warshay, who holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a Harvard MBA, has taught entrepreneurship for Tel Aviv University’s MBA program every summer since 2006. Warshay teaches entrepreneurship in such far-flung locales as Bahrain, China, Egypt, Portugal, Slovenia and South Africa and across the United States.
Years ago, when Barrett Hazeltine, now professor emeritus at Brown University, asked him to teach a core entrepreneurship course at the university, Warshay said, “I thought he was joking. I had never taught anything.”
Can you describe teaching entrepreneurship?
“There’s a structured way to learn and do entrepreneurship – not in a cookie-cutter way, but with a beginning, middle and end,” Warshay says. “Ideas are worthless; it’s all about execution. It’s not accidental that I teach in Brown’s engineering school. If you were teaching someone how to build a bridge, you wouldn’t say, ‘Just go out there and see if it holds the cars up.’”
Warshay pushes his students to behave like anthropologists – observe without intervening and detect issues and patterns among people and cultures.
You’ve developed, built and sold several entrepreneurial ventures. Is it hard to let go?
“Sometimes... I get close to the people, but that’s the nature of entrepreneurial companies,” he says. “They’re destined to grow up and leave the nest.”
You visited Israel this summer during the conflict with Gaza. How was that?
Running to the bomb shelters was a new experience for Warshay, who says, “You can get acclimated... with the Iron Dome being so effective.”
Of his decision to lead an entrepreneurship workshop in the West Bank, Warshay says, “I did what I always do... shared my Harvard Business School case studies with [participants],” who included one Brown graduate and several individuals with MBAs. Israelis and Americans alike thought he was insane to travel to the West Bank – home to a vibrant entrepreneurial community – although it turned out fine.
“Working and collaborating together is the path to peace,” he says. “Mine was just a tiny piece of the process, [but] I hope it catalyzes the [peace] process.”
Will our increasingly diverse society affect entrepreneurship?
“On a micro-level, diversity is one of the most critical elements for successful entrepreneurship,” says Warshay, who encourages students to form diverse teams. “An increasingly diverse society is good for entrepreneurship,” he adds.
Want to learn more? Visit www.dewventures.com.
Nancy Kirsch is a freelance writer on the East Side. Find her at nancykirsch.com or firstname.lastname@example.org