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IU entrepreneurship professor teams with the Crocodile Hunter's wife to launch new edition of book

Dec 03, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As the world gathers at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Indiana University and Australia Zoo's Terri Irwin (widow of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin) join forces to urge entrepreneurs to use their skills to capitalize on a crisis to help save the planet.

In a ground-breaking new book to be launched in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 8, Donald F. Kuratko, IU's Kelley School of Business professor of entrepreneurship, and Australia Zoo's Terri Irwin propose that a new breed of entrepreneurs could well be the saviours of the planet.

"Climate change is the great challenge of our time, and the stakes could not be higher for entrepreneurs," says Kuratko, the Jack M. Gill Chair of Entrepreneurship and executive director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Kuratko has authored the Asia-Pacific edition of his famous textbook Entrepreneurship Theory Process & Practice with Australia's Howard Frederick, professor of entrepreneurship education at Deakin University in Melbourne. This pushes Kuratko's reach into many Asian countries. A Mandarin edition of the textbook will be launched early next year.

Kuratko and Frederick believe that a savvy new group of entrepreneurs called ecopreneurs are increasingly crossing over to the business of climate change for a cleaner, more sustainable planet. This approach is not limited to small business entrepreneurs. Within large companies there are 'social intrapreneurs'.

At Tuesday's event, Irwin will issue a statement on her views of the Copenhagen process and on her personal concerns for the environment in Australia. These views continue the legacy of her husband Steve Irwin, who was tragically stung through the heart by a stingray in 2006.

"No other book has come to grips so comprehensively with the dual crisis of climate change and economic collapse," writes Terri Irwin in the foreword. "This book is essential for social and business entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region."

Kuratko said that while governments struggle to protect the environment and achieve economic growth, the ecopreneur is well placed to help them in both areas.

"They can see business opportunities, where others only see chaos and despair," Kuratko said. "Ecopreneurs are entrepreneurs who have moved to the next level. They are contributing positively to the environment rather than designing wasteful products."

Irwin, who Kuratko describes as "the embodiment of the environmental entrepreneur," said there were many themes in the book that resonated with her own experiences as an entrepreneur.

"One was about the pathways to becoming an entrepreneur," she said. "I, too, started out with a lemonade stand, a natural progression from my decision at 5 to take over the family business. By 6, I had opened my own bank account, by 18 I had purchased my first house and by 20 I did in fact take over the family business. At 27, I met and married Steve and began my greatest adventure."

Irwin said family and an enterprising spirit were themes in the book that resonated with her life.

"When Steve and I married in 1992, we took over the running of the Irwin family's small wildlife park," she said. "The park has since expanded from four acres and two full-time staff into Australia Zoo, comprising 1,500 acres, more than 600 staff, 1,000 animals, a wildlife hospital and other business interests including wildlife documentary filming, more than 400,000 acres of conservation properties, whale watching tours, international conservation programs and extensive research.

"I am instilling that enterprising spirit in my children Bindi and Robert; I want them to grow up understanding that there is no such thing as failure just varying degrees of success."

Irwin said entrepreneurship is difficult to teach.

"One of the reasons entrepreneurship is difficult to teach and to learn is because it relies on one magical ingredient -- passion," she said. "You cannot teach another to be passionate; your level of passion is uniquely yours."

Kuratko said ecopreneurs like Terri Irwin, combined the unrelenting drive of the entrepreneur with the stewardship of a conservator.

"Terri is the embodiment of the environmental entrepreneur who puts the earth and her family first," he said.