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Entrepreneurship Always Leads to Inequality

Posted on Mar 10, 2014 in Authored, Harvard Business Review

Originally published in Harvard Business Review on March 10, 2014 “Inequality is bad.” “Inequality is dangerous.” “Our system is at risk due to increasing inequality.” Wealth inequality is on everyone’s minds these days: citizens, political leaders, economists, policymakers and yes, business leaders. Unfortunately, simpleminded thinking and insensitivity are often clouding the conversation. Deservedly vaunted venture capitalist Tom Perkins’ callous, arrogant and elitist recent comments should not serve as an expedient excuse to overlook an important “dirty little secret” about entrepreneurship, the acknowledged engine of economic growth:successful entrepreneurship always exacerbates local inequality, at least in the short run. The $19 billion sale of WhatsApp’s to Facebook made Koum and Acton, overnight, vastly wealthier than their next door neighbors. The Boston Innovation District’s meteoric real estate prices are pushing the very entrepreneurs who made the district sexy towards neighboring districts where rents have not tripled since 2010. Tel...

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The Pitfalls (and Upsides) of Partnering with Entrepreneurs

Posted on Oct 18, 2013 in Authored, Harvard Business Review, Print

Originally published in Harvard Business Review on October 18, 2013 To en·gage  ( n-g j ): To pledge or promise, especially to marry; to draw into; to involve; to enter into conflict with Corporate executives are exhorted daily by well-meaning public leaders that they should support their local entrepreneurs in order to be good corporate citizens and to bolster local economies. But engagement with entrepreneurs is not a question of conscience or moral imperative; it is a question of strategic self-interest. As any experienced corporate leader knows, engaging entrepreneurs has potentially the same spectrum of pleasure and pain reflected in the formal definition, from the prospect of inextricable involvement including conflict, to the promise of partnership, to the happy possibility of union in blissful corporate matrimony and acquisition. Let’s start with the pitfalls, because these are often ignored or discounted in...

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Harvard Business Review Press: Worthless, Impossible and Stupid

Posted on Jul 12, 2013 in Authored, Book Coverage, Harvard Business Review, Video, Videos and Radio

3 Videos by Daniel Eisenberg on his new book...

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Find Out if You’re a Scale-Up Entrepreneur with This Two-Minute Test

Posted on May 24, 2013 in Authored, Harvard Business Review, Print

Originally published on the Harvard Business Review, May 24, 2013 Cool ideas for new businesses are a dime a dozen. That — plus all the new tech enablers such as instant websites and e-commerce platforms — makes it deceptively easy to start up a new venture. The bigger challenge is to start up a big venture that just happens to be small at first. Fortunately, real entrepreneurs are growth-obsessed: they cringe when you call them “small.” In fact, I don’t think you can call something entrepreneurship unless it is driven by big vision, big aspiration, and a burning desire and ability to grow — that is a key message in my new book,Worthless, Impossible and Stupid (due out in July). In the book, I tell the stories of scale-up entrepreneurs from around the world, and how they beat the odds to make a mark...

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Enabling the Natural Act of Entrepreneurship

Posted on Apr 10, 2013 in Authored, Harvard Business Review, Print

Originally published on the Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2013 I met Slovenian entrepreneur, Sandi Cesko, in 2007 when his Ljubljana-based multi-channel retail operation, Studio Moderna, had about $70 million in sales. Not bad. I met him again two months ago: six years later he had scaled up by a factor of ten — all the result of organic growth — and employs over 6000 people. Even better. Scale-up means growth, and growth means jobs, wealth, and tax revenues. In a recent post onHBR.org, I called attention to the fact that we entrepreneurship promoters are too focused on start-up, and need to re-balance the dialog to support scale-up as well. That dialog includes all stakeholders, from the entrepreneurs themselves to investors to government policymakers. For you entrepreneurs, the challenges of scale-up are first and foremost the responsibility of managements and boards. Don’t go...

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When Big Companies Fall, Entrepreneurship Rises

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 in Authored, Harvard Business Review, Print

Originally published on Harvard Business Review, March 18, 2013 When a whale dies, the 30-100 ton body — or “whale fall” — slowly, silently sinks to the ocean bottom where it becomes the wellspring of a complex new microcosm of seabed flora and fauna that can thrive for well over half a century. These new ecosystems with their hundreds of species from flesh-eating sharks to sulphur-metabolizing worms also include “innovative start-ups” — previously undiscovered new sea animals that have naturally selected to flourish in the unique ecosystem. There are many ways that live “corporate whales” can cultivate entrepreneurship ecosystems — as investors with capital for ventures to grow, as customers who buy innovative products, or as marketing partners to give the small dynamic firms global reach. I am a big believer of the symbiotic necessity of large companies and entrepreneurial ventures living side...

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