Investor & Entrepreneur, Harvard Innovation Lab


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What is the future of entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurs both in a business and social context are so key to building our future. The question is what helps us find, develop and support great entrepreneurs?

Will great entrepreneurs just naturally rise to the top? Is it therefore survival of the fittest or should we be looking to nurture entrepreneurs and enable them? If so how?

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    Gail .

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    Jul 26 2012: The related video was a difficult one for me to watch. I felt as if he had looked into my education and saw my aspirations and abilities being maligned.

    I have a very high IQ and nearly aced my SATs, but still, I was considered stupid, unmotivated, and actually encouraged to avoid college because I barely made it through high school. But I do have very real talents that I was able to later recognize, and when freed from societal expectations as it pertains to the definition of success, my life changed dramatically.

    It's time to change our educational paradigm. However, contrary to Mr. Herold's desires, it's also time to change our economic paradigm.

    related TED talks:

    I also suggest learning about economics - starting with Zeitgeist movement and moving on to other economic models.
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      Jul 26 2012: your comment went from interesting to ignorant very fast. the zeitgeist movement is a joke, and it takes like two minutes of actual thinking to see that. with average iq.
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    Jul 4 2012: Part of the problem is a paradox of rationality inherent in the current system. The people irrational enough to be willing to take on the outsized risks of quitting their stable corporate jobs and launching a venture are not necessarily the same ones capable of making solid, rational decisions about hedging risk, analyzing market data, or leveraging capital in order to actually grow a successful business. The same is true for coming up with great business ideas in the first place. I have met tons of really bright people with really clever ideas for businesses - some far more clever than we see in the current marketplace; but these are people who also see the potential downside of packing everything they own into a covered wagon and heading West, to borrow a model.

    If we want to overcome that gap, there have to be ways for people to present their ideas and get feedback before they attempt to launch. Too often the current system steps in once people have launched to help them step up to the next level. Then too, people are afraid to put their ideas out there because they think someone else will grab the idea and run with it. Thus, the entry-level feedback system has to build a reputation of trust.
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    R H

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    Jun 27 2012: In my opinion, a few 'natural' entrepreneurs (I can never spell it right) will always 'rise', but thousands more will languish undiscovered - both to the society and themselves. I feel it is an untapped resource, or 'mine' (that leads to a sence of failure and despondancy, which leads to huge social costs). Previously, we were taught to be 'good citizens', that America was a 'melting pot', and that we wanted to 'fit in'. Now, we're evolving. We are transforming (again, in my opinion) as a group through our technical abilities. We're creating singularities and synchronicities, and what's required now (finally and thank goodness) is individual creativity, individual viewpoints, and individual expression. Whereas before we supported the homogenized 'supporter' and 'improver' and ostracized the 'eccentric inventor', we now need to support the innate self-worth and abilities of each and every person, and hold as valuable and provide guidance for their perceived contribution. How to do it? For me, everything starts with the vision. We speak about, get 'buy-in' for, develop strategies for, execute those strategies towards, and evaluate our actions in reference to, the vision. In addition, nothing succeeds like success. Peter Diamandis (?) started a school called The Singularity Institute which addresses futuristic technologies with planetary impact. Possibly this is a good way to make the transformation possible - start a school specifically devoted to the vision of future entrepreneurship. Maybe a consortium of venture capitalists could start a foundation for such an enterprise. If it's successful, the public sector will follow. The sky's the limit after that.
  • Jun 26 2012: Thanks Pat,
    I have watched Shark Tank and I know what you mean about the signals it sends. Thank goodness it's not reality - just reality TV!

    I agree lowering the barriers to starting up is an important part. Another question is what to do to nurture the startups beyond that point.

    Also do the barriers in some way cause the natural selection of the best or are they just plain restrictive?
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      Jun 27 2012: I think that entrepreneurship is organic to human beings so it is not a matter of nurturing it is a matter of removing the stops to what man naturally does.

      Hard to answer your last question but I have heard it many times that business owners say they could not do today what they did in the past to get where they got. Home Depot being one example.
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    Jun 26 2012: At the moment it is rather bleak. The thing that brings ideas to fruition is investment capital. The thing that drives investment capital away is uncertainty. The U.S. is undergoing the greatest uncertainty it has had since FDR.

    To get idea about great entrepreneurs watch the tv show the Shark Tank. You will notice how the panel reacts to the contestants. The panel is highly tuned to what the market place wants. Notice that they react to 2 things one is the idea and how relevant it is to the market place, and second the quality of the individual who is presenting.

    The way to nurture entrepreneurs is to lessen the barriers to business start-ups. To illustrate my point John Stossel did a story about starting up a business in Hong Kong took about 20 minutes to get a business license but in India it was years. (I'm not sure about the numbers but that is the neighborhood)